Talented Group

Grant Heard believes the ability of his group of wide receivers is at a high level, but he knows they have to keep their noses to teh grindstone to be ready for the 2012 season.

Wide Receivers Coach Grant Heard knows the situation his troops are in.

The wideouts will be counted on to be a huge part of the fast-pace offense the Rebels are installing this spring and for the offense to be successful, his guys have to perform at a high level because, on paper, he should have one of the more productive units on the team.

Consequently, he wants more from them than he has seen in spring.

"Their attitude has been great, but their effort is not where I want it to be," said Heard. "They are transitioning from an offense that huddles every play to no-huddle and that is a big adjustment, but they have to learn to push themselves. There's not going to be a break and you have to suck it up and go.

"Knowledge-wise, they are getting better every day. We have had less MAs (missed assignments) daily. I like where they are right now, but the effort has got to be a little better. I think they are starting to see the advantage of the tempo game and they are excited that even when we call a run play there is an option to throw it based on the quarterback's read. No matter what is called, they have a chance to touch the ball or be a big part of every play. I think that motivates them. We just have to keep pushing to get better."

At the ‘X' receiver, sophomore Donte Moncrief has established himself as the main man followed by veteran journeyman Terrell Grant, Matt Tarpley and recently converted Safety/Husky Sam Noblin.

"Donte is a guy who can make some great plays for us, but I have to do a better job of getting his motor going all the time," noted Heard. "He's a young player, so it's my job to make him understand what we want out of him and need out of him. He can be special – we all know that. He's got all the tools you look for – big, physical, fast and he fights for the ball.

Ja-Mes Logan
File Photo

"Terrell is a big, physical kid who can do some things for us to help our cause. He just has to keep working to grasp the offense and get in great shape when the tempo really picks up. Matt is a hard worker with a great attitude, but we've got to clean up his route running.

"We got Sam over here from defense a week or so ago and he's learning the position. He wants to be good and works hard, but he's behind in his knowledge of what we are doing right now."

At ‘Z', veteran Ja-Mes Logan is the leader of the pack through spring training.

"He's had a real good spring in terms of catching the ball and making plays, but I need him to be more physical when it comes to blocking," Grant stated. "He's picking up what we want done really well. He's got an understanding of the tempo we require and he's been very consistent. I just need to see him get after people when we need him to block."

Vincent Sanders, Josh Pinkston and John Ratliff round out the Z.

"Vince had a great day in the last scrimmage and I expect him to keep getting better," stated Heard. "He busts his tail every day. I love his attitude and his effort. Like all of these guys, there is another level of conditioning he has to get to before fall camp, but if he keeps giving the effort he is giving, he will reach that plateau.

"Pinkston has a chance to help us, but I need his understanding of the offense to pick up. He's got some tools to work with, but I need him to tune in to what we are doing a little more. Ratliff is a good kid who tries hard. He's just got to keep working in all phases of the game."

At ‘H', which are the inside (slot) receivers, Collins Moore has had the best spring and will lead that group into the offseason and into next fall camp.

"Collins understands what we want to get done. I need him to make quicker decisions and play faster, but he runs good routes, he has good hands and he's pretty physical. We need him to work on his speed in the offseason," said Grant.

Behind Moore is a group of six who are trying to move up the ladder. Some have already proven they will help the cause in the fall, starting with Korvic Neat.

"Korvic can be special. He's a tough little kid who can do a lot of things in this offense. I like when he has the ball in his hands – he can make things happen with his speed and quickness. He just has to buy in to this whole deal better – on and off the field," noted Heard. "Philander Moore is next. P-Mo needs more confidence in what he's doing. He has a chance to help us. I think once he understands what we want to get done, his confidence level will rise and we'll get something out of him. He's another one who can do some things with the ball in his hands.

Collins Moore
File Photo

"Jordan Holder has good hands, he tries hard and he wants to do right. He just has to keep digging in the playbook to cut out some of the MAs he's making. He's a smart kid, so he'll get it. I like what he is doing out there."

The wild card in all of this is Randall Mackey, who was recently moved to receiver, but is still playing a little bit of quarterback and some tailback.

"He's got a lot to learn, but he can really be special. It surprised me how tough he runs the ball when he does run it. He's excellent at setting up blocks and making a good gain out of what looks like a three-yard play. We just have to get him to understand wide receiver play, something he has never really done," Heard assessed.

"Trust me, there is a place in this offense for a guy with his ability. We want the ball in his hands. He makes good things happen."

Jeremy Reed is also working at the H and Tyler Baker has missed most of spring with an ankle injury.

"Jeremy is a walkon who just got here, but he can really run. We'll see how he gets caught up on the offense," Heard closed. "I haven't gotten to see much of Tyler because of injury."

Analysis: Heard has some material to work with. Most of his top-line guys played and produced last year, despite the difficulties the offense encountered, but Grant was direct in his assessment of the wideouts – he needs, and expects, more. From some, much more. With that in mind, the grade is a B-. The ability is there to be a higher level group, but they have plenty of work to do before the fall.

This is the seventh in a series of articles printed in the Grove Bowl issue of The Ole Miss Spirit. We will reprint them all here.

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