Getting a Leg Up

For most of the summer UM coach Larry Coker has talked about the need for a receiver with big-play capabilities in the Hurricanes' passing game. But little did Coker know a tall and lanky speedster with no collegiate experience could be the guy he's been searching for. The kid's name - Lance Leggett.

With the season-opener against Florida State less than two weeks away and questions still looming over the team's depth - if not quality - at receiver it appears likely Leggett could be part of the rotation when the Hurricanes take the field Sept. 6.

An exceptional athlete who has shown elusive speed since arriving in Coral Gables, the 6-4, 178-pound Leggett has done more than just open eyes with his route running, physical nature and knowledge of the offense. So, barring a strange turn of events there's a good chance Leggett will be taking the field right away.

"It means a lot to know the coaches have developed that kind of confidence in me already," says Leggett, rated the No. 6 wide receiver prospect by coming out of Grace Preparatory Academy in Texas.

"There's some guys that you know have what it takes as soon as they step on the field and Lance is one of those guys," says UM junior defensive back Kelly Jennings. "He's got a lot to learn, but from the way he runs his routes and positions himself out there you know he's going to be a good one."

Leggett has been driving opposing defensive backs crazy even before arriving at UM. As a senior last season, he caught 42 passes for 950 yards (22.6 ypc) and 18 touchdowns. In 2002, he had 40 receptions for 880 yards.

"That's in the past. My only goal right now is to help the Hurricanes," says Leggett.

It's not like Miami can't use the help. Last year's leading receiver Kellen Winslow, who had 60 receptions and 605 yards, is cashing NFL paychecks, while sophomore Ryan Moore (44 receptions in 2003-04) is still in the developing stages. Roscoe Parrish and Sinorice Moss, not considered down field threats because of their respected size, are also expected to step up their production this season.

Yet Coker had made no secrets that the Hurricanes will be looking to throw the deep with more regularity this season. That said - Leggett would come in handy.

"Whether it's Lance, Ryan - whoever it is that would be a welcome sight," Coker said. "I know this - Lance doesn't look like he wants to come off the field."

Just ask receivers coach Curtis Johnson.

Johnson, known to be highly-critical of his players as a form of motivation in the past, has found little to complain about with Leggett. Instead, Johnson is saying all the right things about a player he believes could be special.

"He's got that ability to breakaway from guys and just the kind of make-up in a player that's hard to teach," Johnson says. "I don't want to get ahead of myself, but at times it's really hard to realize this kid is only a freshman."

Coker agrees with Johnson.

"He's done nothing to suggest he can't play at this level - I don't care how young the kid is," says Coker. "I can tell you this - If Lance continues to progress the way he has he's going to be a very important piece of this football team."

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