McGaha is Rewarded for Hard Work

Being a wide receiver for the Sun Devils is an exercise in patience. Chris McGaha, who was voted the state's high school player of the year in 2004, knows all about that theory. He redshirted his first year in Tempe, and began the pre-season low on a depth chart with an abundance of talent. Slowly but surely he climbed up the ranks, and last weekend had a career game against Colorado.

"I was getting a lot of reps the week before the game," said Chris McGaha. "Some of it was because of Rudy Burgess getting that concussion. I had good practices and it paid off." He was surprised though when we told him that he's actually listed as a starting wide receiver in the depth chart for this week's Pac-10 opener at Cal. "I didn't notice, I just go to practice and practice," he said laughing.

The former Moon Valley (Ariz.) standout had a personal best four catches for 40 yards against the Buffaloes, including an 18-yard touchdown – the first one of his collegiate career. "Yeah, I'm gonna remember that one for a while," stated McGaha concerning that milestone. "I was disappointed at first, because I saw a flag and I figured they called it (pass interference) on me. When I saw that it was on him (the Colorado defender) I was definitely happy."

Improving his mental part of the game is the virtue the redshirt freshman notices the biggest difference when he comparing his skill set from last year to present time. "Now I just knowing what I'm doing," he commented. "This year I'm just going out there and playing, not thinking about what I'm doing."

Everyday McGaha faces the notion that he may not get that many reps in practice, let alone in games, given the fact that the maroon and gold core of wide receivers is loaded with talent. Head coach Dirk Koetter stated that the depth at wide receiver is a big positive because it creates competition. McGaha agrees and notes that perseverance is a must playing in his position. "I just stuck with it and all this competition has been a positive influence on me," he claimed. "We had good depth last year with Matt Miller, Moey Mutz and obviously Derek Hagan. I did expect to play right away my freshman year, but then I came to the reality that I will have to redshirt."

"This year I know that if I practice well it will carry to the field in games," McGaha continued. "Coaches are showing confidence in me, and a good practice is the way for me getting on the field."

Being a local player, means that one will get a healthy dose of family and friends attending games at Sun Devil stadium. A byproduct of that loyal following can sometimes result in unintentional pressure. "It's nice to have family, friends from my high school…support me each game," he said. "It's pretty cool. They were bugging me last year, saying ‘when am I gonna see you on TV.?' I told them my time will come and it has now."

Cal boasts a solid defense, and McGaha talked about the challenges the Golden Bears will present on Saturday. "They like to play zone, but I think we have plenty of weapons to get through it," he said. "Our receivers are having good practices and we should have a big day against them. I feel that this game is a big statement for us because it's a Pac-10 opener."

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