What Goes Into Making The Perfect Receiver?
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — While there is room for argument on many things, it’s difficult to argue that wide receiver coach Tyron Carrier has the most talented group of players on the Mountaineer football team.
But how good are these guys, David Sills, Gary Jennings, Marcus Simms, T.J. Simmons, Dominique Maiden, Druw Bowen, William Crest and a number of freshman recruits who are just beginning to catch on?
Are any of these guys the perfect receiver?
Who better to ask than Carrier? So that is just what we did, asking him what makes the perfect receiver and if he exists on his team.
“I think I got three of them, maybe four,” Carrier answered.
That came as a surprise. Like at this time of year, in camp, you seldom hear a coach praising much of anything because this was the time to grind it out, to get better and to accept nothing but the best.
When that was mentioned to him, Carrier didn’t backtrack, although he did sort of offer up an asterisk to go with his statement.
“All four of those guys mixed together would make the perfect receiver,” he said. “You get a 6-foot-5 guy who runs 4.3, is explosive in and out of breaks, has great technique and is physical. But that’s just about all my guys.
“David Sills is tall, Marcus Simms is 4.3, Gary Jennings is great with his technique and is physical, as is Sills … and T.J. Simmons combines a lot of that same stuff.”
It’s a talented crew.
But they didn’t just show up that way. Sills was a quarterback. Jennings caught seven passes his first year. Simms had troubles holding the ball.
It’s a process.
“In this day and age, there are not many receivers who coach receivers any more. I still believe that you have to know what it feels like to understand and be really good to coach at that position,” Carrier said.
And yes, he was a receiver, one of the best in the University of Houston’s history, setting an NCAA record by making two or more receptions in all 53 of his college games and finishing No. 2 all-time in the NCAA with 320 receptions.
He caught 22 touchdown passes in his career while gaining 3,459 yards, and with all that he was a better return man, owing an NCAA record seven returns for touchdowns in his career.
And yes, he is coaching the kickoff returners as well as the wide receivers.
“You don’t ever get the finished product,” Carrier said. “if you do, you are lucky. I like to challenge the developing guys. Those guys have really bought in to what I am teaching in the development process.”
Most of what Carrier says about the perfect receiver involves natural ability, but there is another side to what makes a player great.
“Everybody sees the big plays, the touchdowns and the great catches, but nobody knows these kids stay here all summer and all they do is live, eat and sleep football,” Carrier said.
“They catch endless amounts of balls a day. They work in the sand pit to come in and out of breaks. They work with the strength staff to strengthen those little muscles they need to come in and out of breaks.
“They have to learn how to bring your body back the next day,” WVU’s receiver coach concluded. “Those things people don’t understand. All they see is the touchdowns on Saturday.”
If only it were that simple.
“These kids have bought in, so everything I tell them to do they do and they can see the results that come from it,” he said.
Sometimes, of course, there is the player who isn’t driven enough, isn’t mature enough to dedicate himself to reaching whatever part of perfection could belong to him.
“Usually those guys will transfer,” Carrier said.
It isn’t even that he suggests such a decision be made on their part.
“They usually get it themselves. The guy they came in they thought they were better than elevates himself because he is working. They say hard work beats talent any day. It’s all about working hard.”
In truth, it isn’t really about talent.
“A lot of kids, they really don’t know how to play wide receiver. They see the ball and they just go attack it,” Carrier said. “There’s a lot of stuff you do from the time the ball is snapped to when you catch it and it’s all about being taught to do that.”
And none of this even touches on another aspect of the position, and that is getting in the film room and looking at yourself and your opponent.
“We want to know every little detail about the guy we’re going against,’” Carrier said. “Is he a physical DB? Does he think he’s a cover guy? Is he not good breaking to his left? Does he always bite on the outside move?”
That comes from the coaching staff but the older guys learn to watch the film themselves, devise their own scouting report and then Carrier gives them a yea or nay on it.