2010 Bryant Hornets preview: Wide receivers

Dillon Winfrey hauls in a pass against Texarkana last season. (Photo by Rick Nation)

By Rob Patrick

Photos by Rick Nation 

During the 2009 football season, the Bryant Hornets completed 98 passes. Of those, 19 were caught by tight ends or backs. Of the remaining 79, only eight were hauled in by wide receivers that have returned for the 2010 season.

Senior Dillon Winfrey (5-9, 150) caught four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, junior Sawyer Nichols (5-10, 150) grabbed three for 43 yards and senior Caleb Garrett (5-10, 140) caught one for 8 stripes.

You get the idea that this is an area where some guys are going to have to step it up for the Hornets this season.

“We’re inexperienced,” acknowledged Hornets receiver coach Jason Hay. “I think we have about two games of starting experience among all of them. So, there’s been some growing pains. But I think the effort’s there. We’ve just got to keep working on our timing especially with a young quarterback.[more]

Sawyer Nichols absorbs a hit on a pass attempt against Little Rock Catholic last season. (Photo by Rick Nation)

“It’s hard to replace guys like Logan Garland and Brandon Parish and Chris Arnold, who’ve been playing together since they were in eighth grade and started all the way through,” he continued. “We took for granted, I guess a little bit, just how smart they were just because you get used to telling them one time and they know what to do.

“These new guys are trying to focus all their attention on learning what to do and it’s just a different deal. But I think they’re learning the system and the effort’s there. We’re just about a couple of points away from clicking, I think.”

Specifically, Hay said the work includes, “Just knowing the timing, knowing where to settle. It’s more than just running a route. Anybody can run a route but you’ve got to know how to get open, settle in a zone and, when it’s man, know where the leverage is, knowing how to stem him (the defender) up and where you want to go. And we’ve struggled a little bit lately at catching the ball. Some of that’s just inexperience and they’re more worried about their route than catching it, and not looking it in. They need to be more focused but we’re getting there.”

Along with the returning trio mentioned, Hay mentioned senior Adam Gonzalez (6-0, 175) and sophomore Hayden “Petey” Daniel (5-7, 140).

“Those guys look to be the main corps of the receiving group,” Hay said. “Sawyer got a couple of games started at the first of the year last year due to an injury. He and Dillon look to be the outside guys. Caleb’s a senior coming back. He’s going to get significant playing time. Petey’s been away but before he left for baseball, he was looking good.

“We’ve got some speed,” the coach noted. “Every one of them can run. Sawyer probably runs the best routes, more crisp. Winfrey is the biggest threat in open space. When he gets the ball, he’s got the kind of speed to make some moves, make somebody miss and go all the way in. Garrett’s an intelligent player. He does a good job of working his man, especially in man coverage and knowing where to settle down. Petey has a little bit of scat in him too, the ability to make somebody miss in the open field. Gonzalez is one of the biggest receivers we have so, obviously, he’s a bigger target to throw to. He also does a good job of blocking.”

Hay also mentioned seniors Brodie Nixon (5-10, 165) and Nic Moore (5-11, 160), sophomore Devon Sears (6-3, 160) plus, at times, senior Tanner Tolbert, a returning starter in the secondary and the team’s punter.

“He’s the fastest guy on the team,” Hay said. “He caught a lot of balls early in his career and he’s a weapon. We’re going to get him the ball somehow this year. He’s going to come over and play a little bit of receiver in special situations.”

Tolbert threw a touchdown pass last season in such a capacity. He also took off from punt position three times for 45 yards.Senior wide receivers, from left, Adam Gonzalez, Brodie Nixon, Caleb Garrett and Nic Moore. (Photo by Rick Nation)

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