Kennedy excited about competition among improving receivers
Wide receiver coach Bobby Kennedy spoke with Cardinal Sports Report Tuesday morning about where the scholarship players stand after winter conditioning and several spring practices.
Michael Wilson and Brycen Tremayne will lead the way as the most experienced guys. Expectations for third-year Elijah Higgins and second-year John Humphreys are almost as big as the players who would be tight ends in most offenses.
The competition for playing time includes third-year Colby Bowman, third year Marcus Graham (he has missed most of the past two seasons due to injury) and second-year Bryce Farrell, who got some reps as punt returner at the end of last season.
Wilson and Tremayne: “I’m really impressed with them. They’re the two guys now who have taken the mantle from Simi (Fehoko), Osiris St. Brown and Connor Wedington, where they really are the leaders in our room. The standard is set by them.
“Brycen played a lot of football last year but now, man, he’s a full-time guy and his consistency has to improve in terms of his technique and blocking. He has made big plays for us.
“He has gained strength. He came in I think 165 pounds and he’s 208 now. He’s running well. He’s a guy now in that room who guys watch him and think, ‘That’s the way it should be done’.
“Mike Wilson has pretty much always been that way but maybe not always as vocal as a leader. We had other big personalities in the room. Now Mike can take on that leadership role and that’s what we need out of him. This is a big opportunity for him to showcase what he has.”
Higgins: “Playing in six games really helped him last year. He has grown. He’s bigger and stronger, but also he’s more confident. That first year that he played some everything was going so fast.
“Now he played those six games and things started to slow down. He is more confident in his assignments and the role we have for him. I’m really excited to see him continue to emerge. He made some really good plays for us down the stretch.
“Obviously with his size and speed he has a unique skill set. Coach Shaw, Tavita and I have a clear, defined plan for him. I think his role will stay very similar to what it has been in the past.”
Humphreys: “I’m really excited about John. I think the experience from last year benefitted him greatly. You can see he is more confident and understands the offense better.
“The great thing about John is he is an extremely hard worker, he’s very bright and nothing really fazes him. I see him taking on a bigger role. He’s a guy who quite frankly we need to emerge a little bit and move forward.
“In winter conditioning and right now I see his confidence growing and growing. I’m very excited about that.”
Farrell: “He’s still very raw. He’s a guy who wants to be really good and he works extremely hard. Being what I call a medium-size guy, everything can’t be about speed. We know he has great speed. Now he needs to refine his technique, whether it be releases versus the press or holding space on the sideline or at the top of the route — not making everything a speed cut.
“He’s in that process right now and showed really good improvement. It’s not add water, instant player. What guys have to do is keep refining their skill and doing those things over and over again. He’s not there yet but I see flashes.
“We know he has great speed and the big thing is staying healthy and body maintenance.” (He hasn’t missed a practice.)
Bowman: “After being in the program for two years he has a much better feel for what we’re trying to do with him, what he is supposed to do in the offense, but the thing that has encouraged me about him is that he is turning into one of those guys who is extremely hard working as a receiver and in special teams.
“What I’ve seen him improve on this spring is his release getting off against the press has been much better. He is starting to show more physical aspects of his game because to be quite frank that’s what he has to do. He has to be a gritty guy. He has to be a guy who anything we ask him to do he is willing to do.
“Also, he has good hands, good speed and once again this is a process. I’ve always told guys there are some guys who come in and can play right away. Every year it seems we’ve had a freshman do that. But you know you’re a healthy program if it does take some time for you to get onto the field. You have to put the work in.
“Colby is at that stage where I think he is ready to take the next step. Now we have to see consistency, grittiness and the ability to make plays.”
Silas Starr: "Silas is doing a great job. He still has to master the finer points of the offense, but I see him making improvements every day. His footwork versus the press (has improved since last year). He is doing a much better job being physical at the line and not getting widened."
Graham: “He is full go. Last year he was on the scout team. What I've seen from Marcus Graham this year is I think he has taken a huge step against the press, being more physical, getting out of his cuts.
“Now he has to finish plays. He needs to reach for the ball more consistently rather than let things get into his body. Marcus has been a very, I wouldn’t say surprise, because we know he has it in him.”