Mentoring a Bright Future

Experienced and talented, junior O'Neill Chamber figures to play a key role on the outside at wide receiver. He may have had a slow start in spring practice due to some academic issues, but is nevertheless looking to add to a very promising receiving corps, as well as help BYU's youngest receiver develop.

Chambers started in nine games last year and was second behind Dennis Pitta in reception with 32. He totaled 376 yards receiving yards and averaged 11.8 yards per catch. With another year of experience under his belt, Chambers looks to play a greater role in the Cougar offense.

"We're really looking for a passing game first," Chambers said. "We know we have guys back there that can run and have a quarterback that can run, but I think what it will come out to is we will run more of a spread and pass the ball around. We have a lot of versatility in our offense with all the guys we have playing receiver. We'll have more athletes out there and more speed out there and on the inside receivers' position as well. I think we're going to be a good group and we're waiting to see how good that group is once we have all the parts in it."

Coach Higgins will be fielding a group of receivers that Chambers feels could be used in various ways that would make it tough for any defense they face.

"We have really good receivers in our program right now coming back," Chambers said. "I think if we go spread and have McKay [Jacobson] and Luke [Ashworth] or Spencer [Hafoka] in there mingling around on the inside, no linebacker is going to be able to hang with their quickness and shiftiness. Those guys are fast and shifty and tough for even cornerbacks to cover, but to have those guys bring their game and their hands to the field, it's going to be hard for defenses. It would be a kind of who's-going-to-guard-who type of deal for defenses. I think they would have to bring out four cornerbacks out onto the field just to cover every single one of our receivers."

The receiving corps isn't currently at full potential, as there is still one key piece – and a rather talented one – that needs to be added to an already lethal group of receivers.

"We're all waiting to see what Ross [Apo] looks like when he gets out here," said Chambers. "Once we get Ross out here, I think we'll have even more options and abilities out on the field. I really think he's going to be good and will bring just another dimension to our receivers' group. I really think he's going to be good."

As is part of the culture of Coach Mendenhall's program, a more experienced player often takes a younger member of the team under his wing. That is just what Chambers is doing with Apo, who isn't participating in spring camp because he's recovering from an injury.

"We work out a lot together," Chambers said. "He picks things up really well from stuff we've gone over. I just want to help him reach his potential because I really think he has a lot of upswing to his game, and having both of us on the outside would really be good. I think it's going to be good to have two big bodies on the outside with him in there stretching defenses. It would be tough trying to figure out how to stop that. Having one big body out there that's not afraid to hit anybody, you can find ways to stop it. But to have two big bodies out there that's not afraid to hit and be aggressive but can also fly with shifty guys on the inside would be tough."

It didn't take long for Chambers and Apo to become friends, something that will help them also be better teammates.

"I found someone that I'm very similar with and feel comfortable with," said Chambers of Apo. "When he first got here he came up to me, and he's a really nice kid and I'm a nice person. We just kind of hit it off from the get-go and understood that we're two people trying to make it to the next level. We just kind of came together to try and help each other and make each other better by putting in a lot of extra time working to make each other better. We've been able to build up a good relationship together, and so we can have good unity on the team and on the field."

After Apo arrived at BYU and got to know Chambers, the two teammates quickly went to work.

"We've been going over the plays and learning that part of the offense and how the receivers fit together within the plays," Chambers said. "We've been going over other things like body control, route running and getting in and out of our breaks. We've also been going over selling our route and deceiving the cornerbacks. We've also been working on being stronger with our hands and catching balls as much as we can."

In fact, the two have worked out too much at times.

"There have been a few times that we've been kicked out of the IPF because we've been working out so much together catching balls," said Chambers with a smile. "We've been putting in a lot of extra time together and we're doing whatever we can to be great. This started when he first got out here, and ever since then we've been putting in a lot of extra time working out together."

While working out with Apo, Chambers witnessed firsthand why the University of Texas extended a scholarship offer to the Texas native. The 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound true freshman has a lot of the qualities valued by top football programs.

"I would describe his style of play as being explosive," said Chambers. "He comes off the line quickly for being a tall receiver. He's strong, confident and not afraid to go up and get the ball at the high point. I think he has a lot of talent and having him working with the rest of us in our wide receiver group will only make us that much better. It's good that he's here with us."


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