University of Louisville Director of Strength and Conditioning Pat Moorer now has the responsibility of getting the Cardinals into top condition by improving strength and speed. For the receivers, that means improving techniques, route-running and timing in the passing game.
"Today was the first day that the guys got out and ran," said Ron Dugans, the Cardinals wide receivers coach. [The coaches] can't be out there with them, but Coach Moorer has a lot in store for those guys because we know how important this season is."
One of the deepest and most talented group of receivers in the nation, U of L returns last seasons top three receivers. Senior Damian Copeland led the team with 50 receptions, junior DeVante Parker was tops with 744 yards and 10 touchdowns and fellow junior Eli Rogers' 46 catches and 4 touchdowns both ranked second on the team.
In addition to spending time in the weight room, the receiving corp will spend a lot of time working with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in 7-on-7 drills.
"All those guys know the importance of getting better," Dugans told Cardinal Authority on Tuesday. "They all know the importance that even if I'm a backside guy, I'm blocking the safety or a cornerback and to finish my route because I'm not a selfish player. Those guys have bought into the concepts and the way we raise them. We want you to go out there and be competitive on every down. Sometimes they say the wide receivers are the prima donna, but we want to be a physical ball club."
The group lost one of it's more physical players to graduation and Dugans is looking forward to finding the guy that will step up and fill that void.
"We lost Andrell Smith, who was a physical presence for us, so somebody else is going to have to step in."
With a full stable of talented receivers, Dugans is looking forward to seeing who will rise to the occasion. Eli Rogers and Michaelee Harris are two that have the opportunity, as well as transfer Robert Clark. Another transfer, Matt Milton, is also expected to push for playing time.
"As far as the slot goes, you have smaller guys like Eli Rogers and Robert Clark, who didn't play this past season but he can fly and he's a really good kid, a humble kid who loves to work hard, and you have Michaelee Harris. I told him the other day that if he gets healthy, you'll be a plus for us. If does that, it'll be big for us. Then you have Matt Milton, who's a total receiver, who plays on the same side as Parker plays."
Michaelee Harris, who suffered a torn ACL during fall camp last year, told Cardinal Authority on Tuesday that he's at about 80% and Matt Milton, who sat out spring practice, is "about the same."
Incoming freshman James Quick, the US Army All-American game MVP, provides another dimension to a deep group.
"He's a smart kid and I think he's going to pick up the offense well, because when he came on his official visit we talked to him about a few things and he picked it up," said Dugans. "I know he's a competitor and Coach Moorer is going to put some weight on him and get him even faster. He's fast now, but it's a different ball game from high school to college."
With so many weapons to choose from, Dugans is looking forward to a very competitive fall camp.
"I'm looking forward to all those guys competing. It's going to be a competition in this camp and it starts now in the off season and they know that."
"Those guys know what's expected of them, because they know what got them to the Sugar Bowl. Now we want to build on that and have to work harder."