Duval Kamara did not take the next step toward stardom that many analysts had forecasted prior to last season. After setting freshman records for receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2007 (since shattered by Michael Floyd), Kamara struggled early vs. San Diego State and played his worst game as a collegian in Week Three in a loss at Michigan State. With the exception of a solid all-around effort at North Carolina, Kamara's sophomore campaign was spotty at best.
Though the big target is unlikely to set any team receiving records in '09, don't be surprised to see a dangerous No. 3 receiver hit the field this September. A player who'll continue to fight to earn the status of a go-to guy.
(X)Wide Receiver Duval Kamara
Regarding his confidence entering 2009:
"I'm pretty confident – I'm listed as No. 3 but like I said I stayed here (in South Bend) and worked over the summer and I'm trying to get to that No. 1 spot."
According to head coach Charlie Weis (in Monday's press conference, the Irish players that stayed in South Bend to work over the summer had to pay their own way (as summer school didn't start until late June). Kamara, and three classmates, linebacker Brian Smith, halfback Armando Allen, and defensive tackle Ian Williams each mentioned in separate conversations that remaining in South Bend was a key factor in their collective conditioning.
Kamara regarding specific improvements he can make to his game:
"I'd say just being a complete receiver; blocking, running routes, catching. It's nothing different (from most receivers) – working on those things all the time (is key).
On the competition at his position group:
"It's really competitive, you have Michael (Floyd), Golden (Tate), Robby (Parris), the two freshmen (Roby Toma and Shaquelle Evans), so there's a lot of competition. I think that's the best part of the position (the depth).
Commenting on a follow-up question regarding Evans and Toma:
"They're both two quick receivers. Fast. Once they get the playbook down and things get going we'll have to see."
On my question about playing outside as opposed to in the slot:
"I'm comfortable wherever they want me to play, wherever coach wants me to be. "
Kamara agreed he can be a bit more physical in the slot as a blocker in the running game.
Regarding the need to be crisp in his routes:
"Depth of route is part of it too, not just route running, but also connection between QB and receiver."
Responding to an observation that his two best games (in my opinion): Purdue in '07 and at North Carolina in '08 were both the result of early involvement (in the middle of the field) in the passing game.
"That's key for all receivers. Once you catch a few balls and once you get into the game you start to feel it a little more and you can go from there. You start to get into a rhythm.
On the need to expand his repertoire and become more than a "fade-route" receiver:
"I'll be able to run a lot more routes this year but those routes (slants/square-ins/crossing routes) are key. I'm trying to perfect those routes. I can use my body to shield defenders (in the middle of the field).