April 29, 2011

Texas receivers will need to bounce back in 2011

[db]Darrell Wyatt[/db] equals intensity.

Talk to those close to Wyatt and he's always had the focus and determination to do big things. Whether it was working as an undersized receiver at Kansas State in the late 1980s or working as an assistant coach for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma or grooming Rashaun Woods from a little recruited receiver into a first-round pick at Oklahoma State.[

"I think I bring a level of intensity to the field, but I'm a fair guy and it's out of love and I think that that's going to help the group," Wyatt said. "I think the group is looking forward to that kind of energy. I think we need some energy, and I think that's what I bring to the table. I bring a lot of energy that's been developed over a lot of years, and I'm looking forward to working with the guys."

Wyatt's track record of taking talent and making it better is proven. Woods. Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias, Mark Clayton. Wyatt also spent a year at Arizona in 2007 under Mike Stoops and helped develop receiver Mike Thomas, who plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I think of a guy like Rashaun Woods, who was kind of an unheard-of-receiver, and we formed a bond in a short time and before you know it he was one of the most dangerous receivers in the country," Wyatt said.

"You go out, get to know these guys, develop a relationship and a trust factor where you can coach them in a hard but fair way and that they understand that if they're willing to work hard and listen and trust, then they've got a chance to be special players and max their talent out."

Wyatt knows how to win big, having won Big 12 titles at OU in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2006, he went to the Minnesota Vikings and coached receivers under then-coach Brad Childress. And in 2008-09, he was the offensive coordinator under Larry Fedora at Southern Mississippi before joining Turner Gill as co-offensive coordinator at Kansas in 2010.

Wyatt said all of that experience will pay off in Austin as he takes on the role of shaping the Longhorns' receiving corps and serving as co-recruiting coordinator with Bruce Chambers.

"Being familiar with this league, knowing the teams, having competed at a high level, certainly having recruited in this state for a long time and having a great relationship with the Texas high school coaches, it was a great move," said Wyatt, who also coached receivers at Baylor in 1996.
Wyatt has been recruiting the state of Texas for 20 years.

"I've had experiences in just about every part of the state," said Wyatt. "I've recruited the Dallas Metroplex area, [and] at one point I recruited Houston as well as East Texas. Obviously, my wife is from San Antonio and me being from Killeen - central Texas, so I've recruited just about every part of the state."


Wyatt's latest priority is to shape a receiving corps at Texas that underachieved in 2010. Wyatt spent much of the spring getting his receivers to be more physical. They will block, he says, so that Texas' offense under Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite, will have a running game.

"You don't get the long runs unless the receivers are blocking downfield," Mack Brown said. "And I've been really impressed with the way Darrell gets after his guys to be more physical."

Let's take a look at how the receivers fared this spring ….


GREAT CAMP

MIKE DAVIS, SO., 6-2, 186 -
Davis showed his incredible work ethic and drive in the spring and set the bar for everyone else. Davis doesn't want to look good. He wants to be good. And he has the tools to break out in Bryan Harsin's new offense. Look for him to be the go-to guy in the fall. Might have had a really special year as a freshman if not for a knee injury in the middle of the season that slowed his progress.


GOOD CAMP

DESEAN HALES, JR., 5-11, 175 -
Hales probably should have gotten more playing time last season when Marquise Goodwin showed signs of leveling off. But he grabbed the stage in the spring without Goodwin to show Harsin, Applewhite and Wyatt that he can be reliable. Hales should be able to put pressure on Goodwin in fall camp if Goodwin isn't ready for the battle.

DARIUS WHITE, SO., 6-3, 220 - White should be the next big thing at split end. He was frustrated that he didn't get more reps last year. He ended up stuck behind Malcolm Williams, who's certainly had an up-and-down career at Texas. But White should be the guy this season. Now, he has to show he's ready for the opportunity. He made some circus catches in the spring, including a couple for TDs in scrimmages.

JOHN HARRIS, R-FR, 6-3, 206 - Harris is pushing White for the chance to play split end, and that's a good thing. That position is the one a right-handed quarterback sees first as he drops back to pass and is the reason it's usually a bigger receiver who can handle himself in one-on-one situations. Harris hasn't done it under the lights. But he made a lot of plays this spring.


WILDCARDS

MALCOLM WILLIAMS, SR, 6-3, 228 -
He missed the first half of spring for personal reasons and came back to action in the second half closer to 240 pounds. As a result, he worked more as an inside receiver and at H-back. Williams set a nice tone for Darrell Wyatt's new emphasis on blocking because Williams will block a concrete wall if you ask him. The question is what kind of playmaker is he now?

MARQUISE GOODWIN, JR, 5-9, 177 - Goodwin didn't take part at all in the spring because of track, which will raise questions about Goodwin's ability to transition back to football. He didn't take part in the spring last year, either, and just seemed tired at times last season. His numbers in 2010 (31 catches for 324 yards and 1 TD) were a hair better than in 2009 (30 catches for 279 and 1 TD). But it seemed like there was a drop-off because he didn't make the big plays he did in 2009 (OU, A&M).


PROVIDING DEPTH

CHRIS JONES, R-FR, 6-0, 160 -
Jones made enough catches this spring in a competitive setting to show he made the most of his redshirt year, which is a big deal. Now, getting on the field is still a challenge considering Marquise Goodwin and DeSean Hales are also vying for playing time at the flanker and inside receiver spots. But if he keeps making plays like he did in the spring, he'll get on the field.

PATRICK MCNAMARA, JR, 6-4, 210 - Don't laugh. This walk-on from Lubbock had a pretty good spring. He doesn't blow you away with speed, but he's a big target who gets open and catches the ball. He proved to be reliable and consistent, and that's what matters.

GREG TIMMONS, SO, 6-3, 205 - It's not that Timmons doesn't make plays. He does. He's just in a crowded spot as a bigger receiver competing against White, Harris and Williams. He's got to do a lot to break onto the depth chart because of his competition.

BROCK FITZHENRY, JR, 5-9, 178 - Didn't really fit in Greg Davis' offense, especially with the guys he had ahead of him (Jordan Shipley, James Kirkendoll, John Chiles and Marquise Goodwin). So he's got to hope there's a package for him in Harsin's imaginative offense.


FINAL ANALYSIS: With James Kirkendoll and John Chiles gone, there are opportunities at the inside receiver spots and at flanker. Jaxon Shipley comes in carrying high expectations. So the field will get more crowded. Miles Onyegbule is more suited to play split end at 6-4, 210. So he will have a more difficult path to the depth chart.

There's a lot of talent to work with. And Darrell Wyatt will undoubtedly get more out of this group in 2011 than it showed in 2010, when it was one of the most underperforming positions for the Longhorns.

Because of how poorly this group played in 2010, I think it can turn around quickly with Wyatt's leadership. Wyatt is a taskmaster who asked a lot of himself as an undersized receiver and won't put up with prima donna attitudes.

I also don't think Wyatt will care as much about spilled blood, only productive blood. I expect this position to be greatly improved in 2010 - even after losing James Kirkendoll (52 catches for 707 yards and 2 TDs) and John Chiles (29 catches for 418 yards and 1 TD).

If everyone in this group can adopt Mike Davis' work ethic, this group will be much better off.



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