Spring Practice Report: Wide Receivers
March 28, 2014
The Clint Conque era at Stephen F. Austin has officially begun as the Lumberjacks have commenced on their 2014 spring practice schedule. Each practice session, SFAJacks.com will highlight a different position with today's report focusing on the SFA receiving corps and the veteran leadership it will need to provide. The reports will conclude with coverage of the 2014 Spring Game, being held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12th at Homer Bryce Stadium.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – A number of words could be used to describe the Stephen F. Austin receiving corps. Words such as experienced, veterans and playmakers.
But how would receivers coach Demo Odems describe his players?
Which is how Odems and the rest of the SFA coaching staff hope the receivers play this coming fall. They’ve already made some big plays through the first few days of spring workouts, proving why they are the deepest and most experienced position on the field for SFA.
“We can catch the ball pretty well,” Odems commented. “Our overall foot speed is really good and we have players that have that willingness to ‘want to.’ They want to catch balls, they want to work on the fundamentals and techniques, they want to be technicians when it comes to route running. They are all very coachable which makes it a much smoother process.”
Odems inherited a stocked cabinet when it comes to the Lumberjack receiving corps. SFA returns five of its six leading receivers from 2013 as the group combined for 3,137 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Senior Tyler Boyd looks to be the leader of the wide receiving staff, coming off his career-best season in which he caught 79 passes for 1,183 yards, both of which were team-bests. His eight touchdown catches were second only to the 11 from Mike Brooks, the lone receiver SFA lost to graduation. Brooks, a first team All-Southland Conference selection, ranked second on the team in both catches (76) and yards (985).
Fellow senior DJ Ward had looked strong in spring workouts as well, looking to build on his 2013 season in which he caught 61 passes for 809 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Marquis Mosley has also caught attention in practice as he looks poised to have a breakout season for SFA after racking up 292 yards on 22 catches with four touchdowns.
Junior Aaron Thomas also adds leadership and experience to this group, coming off a season in which he caught 40 passes for 719 yards and four touchdowns. He has been limited in practice – wearing the red non-contact jersey as he continues to heal from shoulder surgery at the end of last season – but Odems is relying heavily on the veteran quartet to set the tone for 2014.
“Those seniors have played a lot of football,” said Odems. “They’ve caught a lot of passes over the years and we expect a lot from those guys. I lean on those guys for their leadership and to set the tempo of how I want things done, and they’ve really bought in.”
A handful of underclassmen have had the opportunity to take meaningful snaps as well, including juniors Braxton Bearden and Antonio Cannon, sophomores Bradley Krall, Justice Liggins and Robert Sylvester and redshirt freshman Aaron Doddy.
It is a stark contrast from the other end of the equation as for the first time in most of these receivers’ careers, they are dealing with an unknown at the quarterback position. With five players fighting to be SFA’s signal caller, the ‘Jack receivers know this is the time to show just how dynamic they can be.
“Everyday we talk about winning the ball,” Odems said. “Even if the quarterback doesn’t throw a perfect ball, its our job to get to that ball and help our teammate out. We are the ones looked to to make big plays and put our team in a situation to win. We focus on being physical, separating ourselves to get open downfield and then being in a good spot to make a play. It’s a learning curve right now, but once that familiarity and timing comes, we should be exciting to watch."
Lumberjack fans can get their first glimpse at the SFA receiving corps and the rest of the team in live action as the 'Jacks will hold the first of two spring scrimmages on Saturday, March 29th. The scrimmage gets underway at 4 p.m. at Homer Bryce Stadium.
2014 Spring Practice Schedule