|Alabama receivers trying to catch balls, attention|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 08 August 2008 22:50|
So why is Mike McCoy so optimistic? ``I think we can be great,'' said McCoy, the most established player of the group.
The Crimson Tide's wide receivers are largely veterans who have been modest contributors and freshmen with impressive high school credentials, but only a handful of college practices under their belts.
McCoy accounted for most of the returning receivers' 44 catches and 400 yards last season. That collectively doesn't even approach DJ Hall's production of 67 receptions for 1,005 yards.
Not to mention Matt Caddell and Keith Brown, who like Hall are gone.
The remaining receivers are focusing more on who's on the team, not who left. That includes McCoy, Nikita Stover, Earl Alexander and newcomers Julio Jones and B.J. Scott.
Redshirt freshman Darius Hanks also appears to be a strong candidate for playing time.
Again, McCoy has only nice things to say about all of them.
``We've got the freshmen coming in, and they're outstanding,'' said McCoy, who had 28 catches for 207 yards last season. ``Julio, B.J., (Marquis) Maze, Hanks, all of those guys have stepped up their game tremendously. Everybody's going to contribute this year. Everybody.''
Coach Nick Saban was more reserved in his praise of the receivers. He has seen plenty of big plays from a number of them in practice, but not the consistency he's looking for.
``The biggest thing with our receivers right now is we've had guys flash and make a lot of very good plays,'' Saban said. ``But the thing that we are really emphasizing with the receivers and the passing game is consistency, attention to detail, the timing involved, the spacing involved. That's what's going to help us become a more consistent group.
``We've had lots of players flash a lot of ability at receiver.''
He said McCoy has likely been the most consistent receiver.
The situation creates constant competition during practice with everyone jockeying to fill the empty spots.
Other than McCoy, the only contender with significant playing experience is Nikita Stover, who has managed 22 catches in the past two seasons but has had injury problems.
He did pick a nice time to come up big last year, catching five passes for 101 yards against Auburn, including a 52-yard touchdown.
Stover's focal point: ``Just staying healthy. That is my only problem.''
Quarterback John Parker Wilson said Alabama is still looking for ``some big-time playmakers.''
The freshmen bring two candidates for the role. Jones was regarded as the nation's top receiving recruit and Scott was rated the No. 1 athlete by ESPN.com.
Scott was also one of the nation's top defensive back prospects.
``They're good. They're really good,'' Wilson said. ``Julio's going to make some big plays this year. He can go up and get it. He can run by guys. He's going to make some big plays.''
Added safety Rashad Johnson: ``They've both made some great plays. Those guys are athletic and physical and fast. That's all you need for any receiver to make big plays.''
Alexander, meanwhile, caught four passes in the Tide's opener last season and none the rest of the way. He and Jones are the two biggest receiver targets, at 6 feet 4, but McCoy said Alexander is getting overlooked in discussions about receivers.
Alexander likes the Tide's receiving depth.
``I feel like all the receivers we have are playmakers,'' he said. ``All the ones that we do have basically can come in and play any time, and when their number is called they can make the play.''