Willie looks to make fast impact

To say that the wide receiver group has several new faces would be a gross understatement. Very few units on the team have welcomed as many newcomers as this one. But it's more than adding more bodies; it is infusing talent to a group that will carry this year's offense. JC transfer Mike Willie will undoubtedly be looked upon as one newcomer that is expected to make his mark early and often.

6-4 215 Mike Willie was one of several wide receivers that stood out at Arizona State's fall camp which began on Wednesday night. However, the transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) Community College was rather humble in his assessment of his inaugural session as a Sun Devil.

"First day was good," Willie said. "I stumbled a little bit in the beginning so I didn't get to show that much. But it's a first of many (practices) – that's all. There is a lot more speed here than a JC practice and the players you're playing with are a lot better too. You just have to get used to all of this, but it will be fine. I just have to adjust."

"Well it was his first day of practice, obviously he's got some talent," said ASU Coach Dennis Erickson of Willie. "We're playing him inside; we don't want to give him a lot of things. We're trying to play him at our Y in our four receiver (set), which is our other inside guy where Gerell (Robinson) plays, and Gerell can move outside so we're gonna teach him that first and we'll go from there.

"But he's got some talent but there's a lot to learn. It's not just the physical but there's a lot mentally to learn in what we're trying to do."

At Cerritos Willie totaled 76 catches for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns in 22 games at Cerritos College and led his team in receptions and receiving yards over that period. In the Sun Devils' new offensive scheme, a solid combination of strength and athleticism are desired attributes for the wide receivers who will often operate in tight spaces. The junior wide receiver believes he does posses those skills which can make him an effective contributor to the team.

"I do a good job catching the ball and breaking tackles," Willie stated. "If I do those two things all the time, and obviously score, I feel that I can help my team."

Willie arrived in Tempe during the first week of July. Aside from taking summer school classes and participating in the team's off-season strength and conditioning program he also was part of the team's informal 7 on 7 sessions which he described as invaluable for a new player such as himself.

"Those workouts helped me get adjusted to the speed and obviously really learn the plays," Willie explained. "Omar (Bolden) and Quan (LeQuan Lewis) really helped me get ready, showing me how the cornerbacks will come up and play you.

"GRob (Gerell Robinson), GBell (George Bell) and Smitty (Brandon Smith) have been helping me a lot with the routes. You have to precise on the routes at this level. You can't come up short or run it too deep. You have to run the route just right so you can make the play. With those guys helping me out I'll be ready."

Even though Willie wasn't part of the 2009 offense which certainly had more than its fair share of struggles, since his arrival on campus he is deeply impressed by the sense of urgency and motivated attitude on offense to improve from last year and help the maroon and gold become a balanced squad this season.

"We need it right now," Willie proclaimed. "Everybody is fighting for it. The defense is already on the map and now we have to put the offense on the map too. I'm going try to help the team do that because I'm an older guy that can spread some knowledge to the younger guys. But even though I'm an older guy I'm also listening to the guys that were already here.

"We're just all working hard out here and we are going to get it done in the Pac-10."

The vast depth at wide receiver is impossible to ignore, and first-year players such as realize that he has to make him presence known right out of the gates in fall camp.

"Obviously I want to be a starter, but I really want to see our offense ballin'," Willie claimed. "As long as we are attacking all the time and doing well with our assignments I know we will get our defense and we will be all right.

"Of course I want to be in the mix, but I also just want our offense to get it done."

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