August 12, 2009

Gilmore: Put a hold on hype for young receivers

There has been no shortage of hype surrounding Nebraska's crop of newcomer wide receivers this fall, and much of it has been well deserved for the most part.

For NU receivers coach Ted Gilmore, though, the latest group of wide outs hasn't done anything yet.

While guys like sophomore transfer Brandon Kinnie, redshirt freshman Khiry Cooper and sophomore running back-turned-receiver Marcus Mendoza have all garnered their share of praise this offseason, Gilmore said none of the newcomers have established themselves as immediate contributors yet.

The bulk of the attention this fall has gone to Kinnie, who has already drawn some comparisons to former Husker standout Maurice Purify despite never playing a down of major college football.

When asked how realistic that comparison was, Gilmore quickly cooled the flames on Kinnie's sudden rise to fame.

"On no, let's not put that on him," Gilmore said. "He's Brandon Kinnie right now, and he's just trying to figure out where to go right now. He's got a lot to learn and a lot to do. There's talent there, but we've just got to mold and shape it and bring it out to the next level."

Then there's Cooper, who got his share of acclaim last fall when he arrived as a true freshman. While he definitely showed plenty of athletic ability on the scout team, Cooper missed out on all of spring practice while serving as an outfielder on Nebraska's baseball team.

When he finally returned to the football field, Cooper found himself having to play some serious catch-up mentally, Gilmore said.

"It's mental with Khiry right now because he missed a lot of reps and a lot of valuable time," he said. "He's got skills and he's got talent, like so many of them, but once again, until we know what we're doing and playing fast and you can show that talent, right now he's getting balled up."

Finally there's Mendoza, who has only spent a few months as a wide receiver but has been lauded for his blazing speed and quickness with the football.

There are certainly plenty of ways the Huskers could utilize a player with Mendoza's skill set, but Gilmore said the biggest problem has been getting him to go 100-percent on every play, even when he's not getting the ball thrown to him.

"He's making strides, but he's still got a ways to go," Gilmore said. "We run a little bit more than those running backs. He's got to make that adjustment and understand that every play is full-time, not just when he thinks the ball is coming to him."

Obviously Gilmore hasn't been nearly impressed with the progress of Nebraska's young receivers as others, but he admitted it's not a bad problem to have a number of young, promising players to work with over the next few years.

In their defense, some of NU's elders at the position have had some good things to say about their play thus far. They don't have much input in determining the depth chart, but still, it's better than nothing.

"Those young guys have been doing real well so far," senior receiver Menelik Holt said. "Coach Gilmore always says the competition is wide open for us, so everyone is coming to practice trying to win a starting job. They've definitely helped push all of us to work as hard as we can every practice."

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