Wide Receivers Expected to Step Up

With University of Miami receiver Darnell Jenkins iffy for next week's game versus Houston because of a tear in his PCL, UM will look for the inexperienced trio of Ryan Hill, Terrell Walden, and Khalil Jones to help fill the void as the third receiver.

Both Jenkins and receiver coach Marquis Mosley are confident Jenkins can return in time for next week's game, but even so, UM must be prepared for the possibility of playing with out their leading receiver.

That most likely means freshman Ryan Hill would be promoted as UM's third wide receiver. Hill, a true freshman, was switched from cornerback to receiver during the middle of fall camp and has caught three passes for 26 yards on the season.

With Jenkins out, Hill has been taking reps as the third receiver this week.

"With Darnell going down with a little injury, I feel like it is my time to step up," Hill said. "Even as a freshman, if somebody goes down, you have to step in and fill that void. I am working hard every day trying to do what I can do."

Hill admits that he is still learning his new position and through the learning process comes a lot of growing pains.

"I am still making little freshman mistakes, but I look at it like I should not be making mistakes at all," Hill said. "All the mistakes I make are mental mistakes, so I have to break those down and step up. I am comfortable right now in the offense though."

Another receiver who will look to get in the mix this week is junior Terrell Walden. When healthy, Walden brings great speed to the position, but he admits he is not 100 percent healthy after tearing his ACL during practice leading up to last season's Peach Bowl.

"I am probably at around 85-90 percent," Walden said. "There is still just a little pain. I am still working the knee out. With the ACL, you just have to give the knee time. There is nothing you can really do for it—you can treat it and work it out, but it all takes time."

Though Walden's playing time has been limited because of his knee, he still tries to have an impact on the field by giving advice and guidance to the younger receivers on the team.

"I am trying to help out the young guys and tell them things if I see them do something wrong," Walden said. "For most of the time they have been here, I have been hurt, so when they come off the field I can tell them what they are supposed to do."

The player that has impressed coach Mosley the most this season has been junior Lance Leggett. Leggett is second on the team in receptions and yards this season and has seemingly put his inconsistent play of last season behind him.

"Lance is special he has come tremendously far from what I heard about him last year," Mosley said. "He right now is probably playing the best out of anybody in my group. I am excited about the progression Lance has made. He is going to be a great player here. He is physical in the running game and is catching the ball over the middle. He is being a leader on the field."

Offensive coordinator Rich Olson recently said that the receivers are still making mental errors in the games by running the wrong routes. Mosley believes that with time his group of inexperienced receivers will get the mental problems ironed out.

"When things happen in the game, it happens much more quickly," Mosley said. "I am a guy that doesn't like to do a lot on Saturdays. I feel like my job is Monday through Friday and when we get t o Saturday, these guys better know what they are doing. Yes they are going to make mistakes because that is all a part of football, but at the same time, we are trying to eliminate those mistakes."

Say what you want about the receivers, but the unit is growing and improving every week. Against Louisville, the receivers made 51 and 49-yard gains. With the possibility of Jenkins missing the Houston game, the young receivers need to seize their opportunity and take advantage of getting more reps.

"We need to just stick together and continue to make plays, regardless of the situation," Khalil Jones said. "We have to continue to fight and continue to press on. We just need to help this offense score points. When the ball is thrown, we have to catch it and dominate every play."

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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