Miles had a hard time holding back his excitement when he spoke to Irish Eyes. He has an experienced veteran and team leader in Omar Jenkins. Two budding superstars in Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight and another veteran that is finally healthy and ready to reach his full potential in Ronnie Rodamer. Four freshmen reported Tuesday and all appear to have the talent to contribute soon. Life is good for Miles but he still has a job to do.
Miles agrees he's got a lot to work with this year but the challenge is reaching and motivating each individual. "Part of your job as a football coach is to get to know what makes a player tick. These are great young men--they are great off the field and on the field. They're eager to learn and they make it easy."
Miles is often one of the more vocal coaches among the Irish staff. He is often heard barking his instruction during practice. Miles says that each player is different and you have to know how to handle each one. "Each guy is different. What makes them tick is different. We're going to motivate guys as hard as we can. When they're doing great we're telling them their doing great. When they're doing bad; we tell them what they did that made them bad and try to tell them what they need to do to get better. You can look at it as getting on guys but that's just the way it is in football. It's not a soft sport—it's an intense sport and we approach it intensely. We coach everybody pretty hard."
Omar Jenkins is the leader of this unit and nobody works harder among the wide receivers than Omar according to Miles. "It's a joy," said Miles of working with Omar Jenkins. "Every day you see a smiling face. He loves the game of football and it makes it really easy to work with him. He works very hard out there and off the field. He's the type of the young man that I feel that if he didn't play football, I would still love him. If he didn't play football, I would still love to be around him because of the type of person he is. Omar is a leader and works very hard and he should have a great season for us."
Stovall and McKnight surprised some Irish fans by contributing a lot to the 2002 season. Stovall made an immediate impact with a 16-yard grab against Maryland in the first game of 2002. McKnight also caught two passes in that game and both appear to be ready to make an even bigger impact.
Miles says it's early but both players should have a great season for the Irish. "It's the second practice and we have a very high expectation level for them. They're doing some really good things but there are a lot of things they still have to work on. We're not where we want to be yet but we're heading in that direction."
Miles says he is counting on both players this year. "We're counting on them. They have to make plays, they have to block, they have to run the right routes and help other guys get better. At the same time, they have to get themselves better. They have to contribute on special teams because they're two of the finer athletes on the football team. They have the ability and the best thing about this year is they have the experience from last year."
One player who appears to be ready to make an impact is Ronnie Rodamer. Rodamer has had a problem with injuries most of his career but was 100 percent healthy this spring and reported healthy for the fall. "For one he's gotten healthy. For another he's gone from 207 pounds to 220 pounds and its all muscle. He's running well, he's got excellent hands and he's running really good routes. He's playing hard and the light switch clicked on when he started to get healthy. Now he is able to make plays and doing a really great job and he'll be able to really help us this year. I think he'll play a lot for us this year."
The four freshmen that reported on Tuesday impressed Miles as well. "They've all got a lot of talent but we knew that coming in. With the new rules, we can't bring them in early. There's a lot of pressure on them to pick the things up quicker because we've got to get going at a fast pace. Our philosophy is to throw them in there and let them go. We teach them everything we can but they're going to have to pick it up as we go. They're all very talented young men and I was very pleased with their athletic ability and now it becomes the process of learning what they need to do. They have the ability—there's no question about that. They've just gotten to be thrown into the fire and let them go."
The Irish wide receivers should be a strength for the offense this year. Replacing Arnaz Battle won't be easy but he has plenty of talented and experienced players to fill his role.