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New staff gives receivers chance to compete

Laura Myers | Thursday, April 22, 2010

If recent practices are any indication, the first three wide receivers fans will see Saturday will be junior Michael Floyd, senior Duval Kamara and early-enrollee freshman Tai-ler Jones. But many others are competing for playing time, playing time that wide receivers coach Tony Alford said is anything but secure.

“We’ll see. Guys have to keep making plays,” Alford said. “It’s an ongoing process, and just because you’re there doesn’t mean you’ll be there the next day or if you’re not there doesn’t mean you won’t be there the next day.”

Junior John Goodman and sophomores Theo Riddick and Shaq Evans look to be the next three competing for a spot on the first team.

As a freshman in 2007, Kamara set receiving records for total receptions and touchdown receptions by a freshman with 32 and four, respectively. His role decreased in the following years, however, as he had to compete with Floyd — who broke both records in 2008 — and with former Irish receiver Golden Tate.

“You’re going to compete, either way, no matter who’s here,” Kamara said. “We had Golden Tate last year, guys had to compete. They have to compete now. It’s no different.  We have a bunch of talented guys. You just have to go out there and do what you have to do each day.”

While Jones only arrived on campus in January, he has already made a name for himself, something Alford said was not surprising.

“He’s a competitive guy and that’s why we recruited him,” Alford said. “We didn’t recruit him to come here and sit down, we recruited him to compete and that’s what he’s doing.”

The conversion of the offense from a pro-style offense to a spread offense should allow for more opportunities for the backup receivers to make plays and distinguish themselves.

“You just have to step up and take on the challenge of the new offense, a different offense,” Kamara said. “Just retaining all the plays and everything, you just have to step up and go along with it like you’ve been running the offense for three years.”

Goodman caught six passes for 104 yards in 2009, seeing action in nine games. Evans caught seven passes for 61 yards in six games. Riddick, a running back in 2009, played in all 12 games and caught six passes for 43 yards. Goodman has played with the first unit at times during spring practice, but all three have spent most of their time with the second team.

“I think that all those guys have done a great job of competing and really taking the time off the field to learn everything and then apply their knowledge off the field to what we’re doing on the field,” junior quarterback Dayne Crist said. “They’ve all got very unique skill sets and they definitely offer something different, but I know they share the commonality of wanting to compete and be on the field.

“Seeing the competitiveness of those guys is really positive and something you want to see at the quarterback spot.”

Crist said he has had time to work with all of the receivers in order to establish timing and rhythm with each one, which he said is critical no matter who is on the field. 

“It’s good knowing that you’re going to get the cream of the crop at the end of the day and you’re going to get the most competitive guys out there,” he said.