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Rambo’s emergence is a major positive in CFP setback

MIAMI — The Sooners saw their season end the same way it has two of the previous three years, with a loss in the College Football Playoff Semifinal. However, wide receiver Charleston Rambo’s emergence served as a definite bright spot in the setback.

Rambo tallied a trio of catches on four targets, one of those a 49-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 31-20 in the third quarter. His other receptions featured a fourth down conversion and a 15-yard catch that set up Kyler Murray’s fourth quarter TD run.

“Yeah, Rambo played well,” said head coach Lincoln Riley. “I thought he gained some confidence. Made some big plays in the Big 12 Championship Game, a big catch, had some big blocks.”

All of that, of course, was in relief of the injured Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. OU’s leading receiver never could get right and didn’t catch another pass over the final five quarters after exiting in the fourth quarter of a 39-27 Big 12 Championship victory over Texas.

“Honestly, as ‘Quise has been down this year and then also A.D. [Miller]—we really didn’t have A.D. the whole entire second half of the season—even though until last night and the Big 12 he hadn’t gotten a ton of game reps, he has gotten a ton of practice reps,” Riley said. “I mean, we have been as thin at outside receiver as I can ever remember being in all my years of coaching. I mean, hell, we had to move Myles Tease out there darn near full time as well just to have a body, and so [it’s been tough]. But Rambo took advantage of all those reps, and he obviously got a ton here through bowl practices, I mean basically all of them, and has gotten better, got more confidence.

“And yeah, you make a play, [you’re gonna gain confidence], and he made the big fourth down catch in this game last night, too. So you make those big plays on the biggest stage, I think the kid’s going to continue to grow and should have a lot of confidence going into this offseason.”

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He’s one of a group of very talented receivers set to return, also including CeeDee Lamb, who exploded for 109 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.

Hollywood has a pending decision whether he’ll exit for the NFL Draft or return for his senior season. The latter is a distinct possibility when considering some of his play down the stretch, coupled with his health.

“Yeah, that was a battle just because the time was good for him to be off it, but that’s just one of those positions that it’s hard to stay sharp when you can’t move,” Riley said. “I mean, you’d rather be darn near anything else other than that. Then, the injury was such that we just [thought] the best thing for it was to be off it, and so we tried to condition him in our pools as much as we could. We’ve got those treadmills, you know, where we can take a lot of that weight off him, hand bikes. Just tried to do everything we could.”

Gone are Tease, Nick Basquine and potentially A.D. Miller, who has entered the transfer portal, but back are the likes of Grant Calcaterra, Lee Morris and scout team members Jaylon Robinson and Jaquayln Crawford, among others. A stacked class that currently includes five-star Theo Wease, plus four-stars Trejan Bridges and Austin Stogner, is also set to arrive for the following season.

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