With 13 scholarship receivers on the team this season, quarterback Matthew Stafford should have plenty of options. One the guys aiming to become his number one target is sophomore Kris Durham.
Durham had eight catches for 82 yards last season as a true freshman and impressed fans with a seven catches, 137 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in the 2007 G-Day spring game. Since G-Day, Durham has been hard at work in the weight room and in the classroom preparing for the 2007 season.
Durham and his teammates get together several times a week to workout and also to work on getting their timing down in the passing game with lots of drills.
"We do pass skeleton on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June and it will be three days a week in July," said Durham. "We warm up and then we do some routes like one-one versus the defensive backs. After that, we get the linebackers and running backs together and we do a seven-on-seven thing."
The summer workouts have paid off for Durham with him adding around ten pounds since spring camp ended in April.
"The last time I weighed myself I was 204, but I have gotten up to 206 or 207. That is the highest I have gotten up to," said Durham about his weight. "I want to be around 210 or 212 that would be good."
Last season Durham worked mostly in the slot and at the split end position, but this spring, receivers coach John Eason threw him into the mix at flanker.
"I am working a little at everything right now. Coach Eason likes us to know all three positions so we can rotate in at flanker and then move back out to either X or Z," said Durham.
As far as there being a major difference between the positions for Durham to deal with, he thinks it is not a problem for him. He likes getting a chance to face smaller guys at the flanker rather than banging against bigger players at the split end.
"When you are playing split end you have to deal more with linebackers than you do with defensive backs. That is the big difference because you are blocking somebody that probably weighs 30-40 pounds more. You have to deal with blocking a bigger man or when you are running a route trying to get off a jam by a bigger man," said Durham about the difference between flanker and split end. "It is like going from [someone like] Asher Allen to Darius Dewberry."
Durham thinks that his height at six-foot-five it is difficult for him to block both smaller guys like Allen or the bigger linebackers like Dewberry.
"They are equally difficult because Asher is so quick and strong, but Dewberry is also very quick and that much stronger than Asher. They both have their advantages and disadvantages," said Durham.
Looking back at his freshman season Durham has seen a lot of uneven play. During spring practice he was down on himself, but a stellar G-Day performance and strong summer workouts have strengthened his resolve.
"There were a lot of ups and downs last season and going into this one, but you just have to work through them," said Durham of the last year in Athens. "You never will have everything go your way. You just have to continue working and believe in yourself and your abilities and do whatever is best for the team."
The wear and tear of the season wore Durham down and his playing time diminished as the season marched on. This year, Durham hopes by building up his body more he can be prepared for the grind of a 13-game schedule.
"I just need to get stronger and more physical, like mentally and physically. I need to change more physically though," said Durham.
Durham likes the new crop of receivers and he thinks Israel Troupe, Walter Hill, and Aron White will help add depth this year to a deep group of wide receivers.
"They are just getting in and they want to get bigger and stronger. They need to get adjusted to college. Guys like Israel and Walter are out there doing well in pass skeleton," said Durham about the new faces. "Guys like Walter will have to go through fall camp and see where they are at. They have the ability and potential to play this year."
Durham also thinks Bulldog fans will enjoy getting a chance to see last season's lone redshirt from the wide receiver group, Tony Wilson.
"Tony has already been in the system so he knows how it goes. Tony is that much more mentally strong and I think he is already ready [to play]," said Durham.
With a lot of new options this year, coach Eason and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will have more options if someone struggles on the field. The receivers last season had only four touchdowns compared to 15 in 2005 and 16 in 2004.
Durham does not blame the lack of production from the wide receivers last season on the quarterbacks. He thinks that as a group the receivers were more focused this spring than last season and that will payoff this season.
"We sat down as a group at the beginning of spring practice and decided to focus more on catching the ball. We figured then everything else would come together. So we started catching the ball and making big plays. After you make a big play someone else is going to get excited and will do the same thing," said Durham of the wide receivers this spring. "It was kind of like a domino effect."
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