We spoke with him this week.
Have you felt a difference in your second spring practice compared to the first last year?
"I feel a difference every time I step on the field this spring Coach (Dino) Babers is teaching me so much. He's such a good coach that you have no choice but to learn and progress. If you don't stay up with him, and don't listen to what he says, he said that you just won't play for him. He's out here making the receivers so much better."
Has there been a difference with coaching?
"With each coach, Coach (Ron) Caragher, Coach (Jon) Embree, and now coach Babers, I've taken something different away. It's really made me the receiver I am right now. It's all contributed. I keep progressing, and keep getting better, and I feel the sky is the limit for me with Coach Babers right now, because he's such a good coach."
Are you more confident than you were last season?
"Absolutely. The more I play, even if I make mistakes, when I do make a good play, it gets my confidence going. When that happens, I feel that nobody can stop me. That's the mindset you have to go in with. If you're a receiver, you have to be a little cocky."
what happened last season?
"I think with the coaches, they wanted to put me in to see what I could do. I was inexperienced last year, and I dropped a couple of balls. I don't think I was ready. I was ready to play, but I wasn't prepared really to play at the level they wanted. I then knew where the coaches were coming from, and I knew I had to work hard over the spring and this upcoming summer. I really have to continue to get better, because I know no one is just going to give it to you. I really shouldn't have played last year, because I really didn't work that hard last spring and summer. I didn't deserve it. But this year, and the next couple of years will be a lot different."
Why didn't you work hard?
"I learned my lesson. I learned that to get playing time, you need to work. And I want playing time. I watch Craig Bragg, who is such a great receiver, and he works so hard, and even he isn't where Coach Babers wants him to be. So I learned that you have to work at a very high level to earn playing time. It goes to show you, that everyone, if they want to play, has to always be stepping it up. You can't rest."
So do you think it was a matter of maturity, too?
"Yeah, it was immaturity. I just had come off my redshirt season. I'm thinking, ‘I'm not going to play. I might battle for a spot.' The light really didn't go on that I could play D-1 football, and I could start. That's what went through my mind. And then you realize you have to put something into it to make it happen. Then right after the Silicon Valley Bowl it hit me that it was really time to go to work I really didn't play in that game, and I was frustrated not being on the field. But I realized it was all my fault, that I had to get it together. And I decided I wasn't ever going to have another spring or summer when I didn't work hard."
With the dropped balls last year, are you now feeling more confident about catching the ball?
"A lot more confident. I'm seeing the ball a lot better. Most of the balls that I dropped I was taking my eyes off the ball and was starting to drift up field. Trying to run before I have the ball. Now I'm staying in and catching it. Now I'm catching everything. That's what the coaches are harping on me about – staying in and catching it – when I'm going across the middle or any one of my routes. Just staying in and looking the ball into my hands. Then doing something after the catch."
In high school you played quarterback, so was it a tough transition learning a new position?
"As far as learning the plays, it wasn't that hard. I know them inside and out. But the difference between the positions of quarterback and receiver is, you're so used to having the ball in your hands as a quarterback. You're very comfortable with it. As a receiver, you have to be patient, and think more about getting to the point you get the ball in your hands, like with your technique and everything. This year I'm really becoming a receiver. Last year and my first year I was just kind of easing into it. But now I'm a receiver, and I can't look back on being a quarterback. People ask me, ‘Why don't they put you at quarterback?' And I say, ‘I'm a receiver. There's no going back.'"
Are they going to design a trick play for you where you throw the ball?
"I think the coaches might have something up their sleeve. I can throw the ball. I have a good arm, so it's a possibility."
At pro timing day, how'd you do?
"I ran like a 4.45. Something like that. It wasn't really fast. That's not my real time. I didn't run it well technically. If I actually trained a bit for it, and stopped popping up on my starts, I could hit 4.4. But in football, while speed means a lot, it's not everything. Technique is."
What do you bring to the team's receivers that the other receivers might not have?
"We have so many different types of receivers. Like with Joe Cowan, he's big. A possession receiver. Craig, he can do it all. Matt Slater has the speed. I feel I bring some quickness. But I want to bring each one of those categories. The speed, being physical, taking hits going across the middle, running away from defenders. I just want to contribute to the team. I think I bring a real spark to the team. Like, ‘Let's go, let's get it going.' I think I'm right behind Craig and Junior Taylor, since they're the leaders of the receiving corp. So I'm just following behind them. But I feel I'm a spark, that I can be vocal."
How much do you weight now?
"I'm up to 175. When I first came in I was 160. Last year, I was about 168. Now I'm at 175. This upcoming summer, the coaches want me to be up to about 185 by the season. I only weigh 175, and I already squat 420. But I need to get bigger everywhere. Right now, my shoulders kind of hurt so it's kind of affected my bench. But I just have to get it going and work hard in the weight room and get bigger."