Last year Jeris McIntyre caught only 12 balls for 187 yards. This season, the Tigers really need the six-foot, 204-pound junior to step up because he is one of only three receivers returning with any significant collegiate game experience.
"I have been trying to work hard," says McIntyre, who dropped more than 10 pounds since last season to improve his speed. "I knew last year, and in years past, personally I have been slacking. Over the summer I tried to just have fun and work hard and do the things that I needed to do day-to-day."
Jeris McIntyre is shown at practice last year as a sophomore.
Coach Tommy Tuberville says that getting off the line of scrimmage against press-man coverage was a big problem for his receivers last year. McIntyre is well aware of the issue. "He has challenged us to do that and I think we are just going to have to get the job done if we are going to be a successful offense," McIntyre tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.
"You have to have receivers that are able to make plays down the field and last year we didn't do as good as we really could," McIntyre adds. "We did have players, but we just didn't do things how we were supposed to, but I think with us coming together and working on the fundamentals we'll be able to get down the field and make some plays this year."
McIntyre is shown at a practice at the Georgia Dome prior to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. Jeris is the son of former Tiger standout running back Secdrick McIntyre.
McIntyre says a talented group of freshmen receivers will challenge for immediate playing time this fall. "They have pushed us," he notes. "They came out and worked hard this summer and we just want to come out and work hard as well. All of us working hard together will make a good unit and that's what we are looking for. We just want to put all our skills together and make one receiver unit and help this team."
New offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino has coached offenses that have produced big passing numbers at previous coaching stops. However, McIntyre says that Auburn fans should expect to see a balanced attack in 2002. "We will spread it around--tight ends, receivers, running backs. I think it is a receiver-friendly offense, but we will use running backs and tight ends and everybody together."
The junior predicts that the receivers will benefit from improved quarterback play this year whether the starter is senior Daniel Cobb or sophomore Jason Campbell. "They worked hard all spring," he says. "They came out and did the things that they needed to do and us coming out throwing two or three times a week this summer has really helped them."
Based on their performance in the spring and the uncertainty of counting on freshmen, the wide receiver corps is considered an area of concern for the 2002 Tigers. McIntyre suggests that football fans who are doubting the receivers could be quite surprised throughout the year. "All of us want to come together," he says. "With Coach (Greg) Knox being a great coach and teaching us all of the fundamentals and all of the things that we need to do, I think with our skills and his coaching ability we could become a good unit as a whole."
Thin is in this year for a trimmer McIntyre, who is shown at preseason practice.
McIntyre says his goals in 2002 are not personal. "I just want to help the team in any way possible and do the things I need to do to help us win," he notes. Team goals are to win the SEC West and then take the conference title in Atlanta."
For Auburn to make a run at the SEC title, McIntyre and the receiving corps will have to play significantly better than they did last season. McIntyre says that should happen and he adds, "We just want to win as many as we can and I think we do have the talent here to win a lot."