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On The Rise
Sooners’ Iglesias poised to join Kelly as regular go-to guy

Juaquin Iglesias has learned to settle down. And that, as much as anything, has perked up his play.

Now, finally, Iglesias may be on the verge of becoming the wide receiver he wants to be. Knows he can be. Has been expected to be.

“This season, I just feel more comfortable, like I’ve been doing this for a while,” Iglesias said. “And now I can just relax and play. That’s the big difference.”

Iglesias has been doing this — manning a wideout post — a while with the Sooners, although he is just now into his junior season, that vital third-year checkpoint in a player’s career when things often begin to click.

There was a sense things had clicked for Iglesias in Oklahoma’s season opener, a rollicking rout of North Texas, when he registered career bests with seven receptions and 128 yards. Another grab on a swing pass, which Iglesias turned into a 41-yard gain, was ruled a lateral and a run, or Iglesias would have posted the third-best receiving yard total in school history and the most since Corey Warren went for 187 against Texas in 1992.

Not that Iglesias knew, or cared, about his final numbers. It’s the fact that he was productive and an integral part of the attack that mattered to him most.

“Hopefully every week is like that,” he said. “I’m just going to try to do what I can to help the team.”

His first two seasons as a Sooner, Iglesias’ production was hit-and-miss. Flashes of brilliance were offset by inconsistency, even disappearances.

Now, however, he holds tangible proof of his varied skills, highlighted by speed, but complemented by some nifty moves that only enhance his total package as a receiver.

Funny what one game can seemingly do.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Iglesias said. “I know I can do it, but it makes it that much better when you see yourself on film doing it.”

And Iglesias is a fan of film.

One of his favorite characters is former OU wideout Mark Clayton, now a star-on-the-rise with the Baltimore Ravens. Clayton was smaller and quicker in tight spots, yet Iglesias offers some of the same after-the-catch thrills of his unofficial mentor.

“Juaquin is quite a bit bigger than Mark was,” said Sooners coach Bob Stoops. “And Mark might have been a little bit shiftier.

“I think it’s fair to say Juaquin is capable of being a big-play guy for us.”

Iglesias’ first two seasons only hinted at such ability.

Oh, there was plenty of optimism following Iglesias’ debut year, when he started four games and caught 19 passes as a true freshman out of Killeen, Texas. His 21-yard scoring catch in double-overtime was the difference in a win over Baylor. Then he closed the season strong, producing a touchdown grab against Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale and finishing with his best game — five receptions, 85 yards — against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.

And while fellow freshman Malcolm Kelly commanded much of the attention coming out of that 2005 season, Iglesias was considered a potent piece of a potentially wicked one-two combination.

He finished as OU’s second-leading receiver — behind Kelly — but the week-to-week production was missing. And there were drops — passes and fumbles, including a costly giveaway in the third quarter against Texas, negating a big gain that would have set the Sooners up at the Texas 15-yard line.

Maybe Iglesias was pressing, putting unnecessary pressure on himself. He’d show up strong some weeks, barely at all others. Four times he managed but one catch. Against Colorado, he caught two balls for minus-4 yards. In six games, he failed to crack 20 yards receiving.

Editor's Note: This is only a portion of the Juaquin Iglesias feature that appears in the first September 2007 issue of Sooner Spectator. Read it all by subscribing today for only $34.95.... call toll free at 1-888-335-4385 (between M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).