Relaxed and Comfortable

Last season wide receiver Akieem Jolla redshirted after catching five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in 2002 during his freshman season. Redshirting allowed Jolla to concentrate on his game and learn from the sidelines. Now, Jolla is ready to contribute.

Redshirting is tough for most players especially after already playing their freshman season.

"I didn't look at it as being tough," Jolla said. "I look at it like it was a good thing. I was able to get a year in of getting better. I was able to get better and watch the receivers make plays. I was able to learn from coach C.J. I feel more relaxed and more comfortable now."

At 6-2 and 185 pounds, Jolla is a big receiver that can give cornerbacks troubles. He has great speed and has improved his catching ability.

"I am feeling good. I am feeling comfortable, but I am not where I want to be at yet. I am working hard every day trying to achieve more. I am just coming out here trying to get better."

Before spring practices began on March 23 the team participated in seven-on-seven drills without a coaching staff around. Some players pointed out Jolla as a player that stood out in these drills.

"During seven-on-sevens I just came out here relaxed every day. I was eager to go out there and make plays every day. There was no pressure. Just came out and had fun."

The wide receivers return six guys from last year, but only Ryan Moore, 45, and Roscoe Parrish, 38, have more than 15 career catches. That leaves plenty of opportunity for the receivers to step up in 2004.

Currently Moore is out of spring practices recovering from shoulder surgery, Parrish had knee surgery, and Sinorice Moss has been hampered by a knee injury.

"Things are coming along good. We are a little bit short because of injuries, but we are coming together as a group. We have to work hard on every down."

Moore and Jolla are the only two receivers over six-feet tall and the two could become quite a combo if Jolla continues to improve.

"I want to improve on everything, blocking, catching, getting off of press, and running routes." The wide receivers have been pointed out this spring as having too many drops. During the scrimmage on April 2, the receivers only managed four receptions. Jolla is encouraged with the progress they have made, but knows it will take more improvement.

"I think we have improved. We have a lot of improvement to do, but we have improved from the following scrimmage at the practice field."

If the receivers can improve the 2004 season could be a lot of fun. Jolla expects big things from his peers.

"I see us making big plays, because we are all big play guys."

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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