In today’s football world, wide receivers are almost expected to be brash, outspoken, prima donnas, “me before the team” players.
CSU’s wide receivers buck that trend.
After a monster season last fall, with 63 catches for 1,114 yards, senior receiver Rashaun Greer is a finalist for the Biletnikoff award — the prize for the top wide receiver in the nation.
He could care less about winning awards.
“That really means nothing. You don’t really have time to recognize awards and stuff like that,” Greer said. “You’ve just got to go out there and play, and just at the end of the season, whatever happens, happens.”
Fellow senior receiver Dion Morton caught 51 balls for 859 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Even though he was an all-conference selection last season, Morton stays focused on his team first.
“I’m not even going to talk about individual goals. Individual goals or accomplishments, they’ll come. If you play hard and do what you’re supposed to, they’ll come,” Morton said.
The less experienced receivers are taking note.
Senior receiver Ryan Gardner has one goal for the 2009 season: “Anything I can do to help the team win.”
Greer, Morton and Gardner represent just three of a very talented, deep, wide receiver corps, which is a vast turnaround from fall camp last season.
Coming into last season, only Morton had ever taken the field as a receiver for CSU.
“We were relatively unproven,” said wide receivers coach Greg Peterson.
But Greer stepped up and into the spotlight and combined with Morton to form one of the best wide receiver tandems in the Mountain West Conference.
Behind those two, CSU fields a group six deep, all of whom are vying for playing time. Sophomore T.J. Borky and juniors Jyrone Hickman and Tyson Ligget join Gardner.
Standing 6-foot-4 and recruited from Florida as a quarterback, Borky has made the transition to a full-time wide receiver, taking great strides during spring and fall camps.
“If you would have asked me after spring football, who maybe was the most improved receiver, I would have maybe said T.J. Borky,” Peterson said. “He’s only going to get better as a receiver with the more reps he takes.”
Sunday’s contest with CU-Boulder will be Hickman’s first game for CSU after battling knee and hamstring injuries last season. With his family in Florida watching, he said he’s “kind of nervous, being in front of a big crowd like this,” and hopes to make a big play.
The smallest receiver on the team, Ligget, stands 5-foot-9 and has received praise from his teammates for his play in fall camp.
“I’m a walk-on, so my responsibility is to come out here and work as hard as I can everyday and try to make the team better,” Ligget said.
Of all these players, Morton is the one seen as a leader, though it is a title he is reluctant to take on.
“You go out there and practice hard and try to set a good example for the younger kids,” Morton said.
“We sure do have a lot of young guys at receiver right now that should step up and make plays in the future.”
Peterson knows how lucky the team is to have a group of receivers who don’t put themselves over team.
“They’re good guys. We’re very fortunate to have the young men who are playing receiver for us. They work hard and they’re very coachable,” Peterson said.
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.