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Receivers take advantage of spring chances

Bill Brink | Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jimmy Clausen’s worst nightmare, believe it or not, can benefit the Irish receiving corps.

Not having the tandem of freshman Michael Floyd and sophomore Golden Tate around to catch passes can’t be fun for the sophomore quarterback, but it has allowed the rest of the Irish receivers to get more work in spring practice. Floyd has practiced on and off because of a knee injury and Tate has spent the spring as the starting left fielder and leadoff man for the Irish baseball team. But their absence lets receivers like Robby Parris, Duval Kamara, John Goodman and Deion Walker get more work.

“It’s still competitive because you know we have guys like Goode and Deion out there,” Kamara said. “The competition hasn’t went down. I’d just say it’s more reps, if anything.”

Floyd and Tate combined for 1799 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Kamara finished with 206 yards and one touchdown and Parris had 50 yards receiving. Both Kamara and Parris said they wanted to improve their consistency this spring.

“To be a consistent receiver you gotta block, you’ve got to catch, you’ve got to run routes, you’ve got to know what to do,” Parris said. “If you’re a receiver and you can’t block, you’re probably not going to play. If you’re a receiver and can block and can’t catch, you’re probably not going to play.

“To be a complete receiver you’ve got to block, be smart, catch the ball, finish everything.”

The way the receiving corps is structured, Kamara said, helps the unit improve as a whole. The players spend time together off the field and have a good time during practice.

“I spend time with almost all of the guys, when we’re in the dorms it’s like Deion and Floyd,” Kamara said. “If we’re out on the weekends it’s more Robby and George [West].”

That closeness goes hand-in-hand with a tight balance between living it up and putting in hard work. Parris said that, as an older member of the unit, he’s the one who keeps the balance.

“I used to be kind of the clown of the group, and now I just kind of ease in there and make sure everyone’s not screwing around too much,” Parris said.

But it’s hard for Parris to shed the fun-loving persona that he said coaches have tried to limit since he arrived. He makes sure to liven up the receiving corps as well.

“I’m also the one who likes to have fun too,” he said. “So I kind of make sure everyone’s in check, but not in check at the same time, because you can’t be too tight if you’re going to play good.”

The receivers, Parris said, all have a little character in them, even the ever-business-like Floyd. They all have nicknames, too, but Parris isn’t snitching.

“We all got nicknames for everybody around here, but we gotta keep those on the hush-hush,” he said.

While more reps means more work for the receivers, it also means more focus on other aspects of the offense.

“It’s tough not having those guys out there, not being able to throw the ball to them, but it helps us in other ways,” Clausen said. “We can work on the run game a little bit more and get better at that.”

Parris said the reps are starting to even out, and that the receivers are getting more rest. But the practice speed, he said, indicates a team working hard to prepare itself.

“It’s been more up-tempo than it has been in the past, because we know we have to get ready for the season,” he said. “Even if it’s not full go, everybody’s running around, hitting people, making sure we’re trying to get ready for the game.”