|Wildcat receivers will have to make the most of their abilities|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Aug. 10, 2005 - Brad Turner looks at his receiving corps, and he doesn't see the same talent the Sulphur Springs Wildcats have had the last two years.
The SSHS head coach doesn't have a 6-4 leaper like Rolaundo Wright, a state track qualifier like Keelan Green or a Division I shoe-in like Keenan Clayton.
After two All-State receivers the last two years, if the Wildcats are to have a third, it will be someone who does other things well, like running precision routes and hanging onto the ball in traffic.
"We know we have a good offensive line, a great running back, and right now we're trying to find the right group of receivers," Turner said Tuesday. "We really worked hard in the spring on technique and precision and running routes.
"We have several guys who are excellent route runners. A good receiver doesn't have to be a 4.4, 4.3 guy (in the 40). I'll take a 4.6 or 4.7 guy that runs great routes."
Fortunately, the Wildcats have some of those on the roster.
While the Cats don't have someone with Rolaundo Wright's height and leaping ability, they have several who stand 6-0 or better, including Spenser Daniel (6-2), Jon Holt (6-2), Josh Harrington (6-0), Tyler Rhoades (6-0) and Keith Harris (6-3) as outside receivers. For inside receivers, they have versatile Josh Riley, who have almost 400 yards in total offense last season, along with Bailey Potts, Marc Crook and Josh Pryor.
"Right now, Mark Crook has been a pleasant surprise. He's had two good days of practice," Turner said. "Of course, Josh Riley is certainly doing really good. Spenser, Tyler Rhoades, Bailey Potts - those all have been catching the ball pretty good."
Harrington and Riley were both part-time starters last season, combining to catch 23 passes for more than 200 yards.
The Wildcats spend a lot of practice on the timing between quarterback and receivers. They work individually, against defensive backs and in 7-on-7 drills.
Receiver coaches Rahn Smith and Jeramy Burleson are also emphasizing to the receivers how to use their bodies to shield the defensive backs from the ball, and to make tough catches in traffic.
One of the most interesting drills is a one-on-one match-up between receivers and defensive backs. Daniel working against Ryan Gibson, Rhoades against Jeff Pitts, and Ivan Beard covering Holt and Harrington have been some of the better contests.
"When we do one-on-one, in my mind, the defense should never win that match-up," Turner said, explaining what he expects from the receivers. "If the guy's running the right routes and doing the things he's supposed to, and we throw the football the way we're supposed to, they shouldn't be able to cover us.
"We've got to make up for the things we don't have. We don't have 6-4 and we don't have 10.3 (time in the 100), so we have to use what we've got to the best we can."
Turner is also putting an emphasis on conditioning, not just for the receivers but for the whole team.
"Conditioning is going to be a huge factor. I feel like we really need to push the conditioning and do everything we can to be physically as good as we can be in that game," he explained. "I think it will be a factor.
"And, they've done well. It hasn't been too hot and we haven't been in pads, so those things have helped. But, that's what shorts are for - to get their bodies back to the grind, and we try to push them and run as hard as we can before we get the pads on."
The Wildcats' first day in pads is Friday.