March 10, 2011
The University of Houston football team could not have asked for a better day in which to conclude the first week of spring practices. Seventy-degree temperatures turned cool just as the squad finished with a hard-hitting, high-energy team period.
VIDEO: Mic'ed up with Coach Phillips
Each day UHCougars.com will take a look at a specific position group and give fans an outlook for the 2011 season. Today we highlight the outside receivers.
SPOTLIGHTING THE OUTSIDE RECEIVERS: Last season, wide receiver Patrick Edwards posted 1,100 yards receiving to lead the team and with another 1,000-yard season could be the first in UH history to put together three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in a career. He will be leaned on as one of Case Keenum's favorite targets in 2011. After losing starter Kierrie Johnson to graduation, offensive coordinator Jason Phillips will be looking to replace that critical role.
Leading the way is senior E.J. Smith who hauled in nine catches last season for 175 yards and a touchdown. Juniors Isaiah Sweeney and Gino Collins have also logged game time at receiver with Sweeney catching six passes and Collins an additional two.
"Overall (the inside receivers) are doing really well," said Phillips. "We know what we have in Hearne (Patrick Edwards), and E.J. (Smith). What we need to do now is get good quality reps out of our young guys and bring them up to speed.
"I think we'll be able to count on Sweeney a lot this fall and I think the light is beginning to come on for Aaron Johnson. Gino is doing a great job and Chance Blackmon is a guy who has been around for three years now.
"We'll need to determine between now and during fall camp which four guys or so we will regularly turn to during the season."
HOW EDWARDS GOT HIS NICKNAME: If you are in the football complex or out on the football field and you yell "Patrick" or "Edwards" you may not get anyone to come running. But say "Hearne" and everyone knows whom you are talking about. Back when Edwards arrived on campus as a walk-on, then assistant coach Rafe Mata nicknamed him Hearne after the very small hometown of the quiet receiver. With a population of 4,690, Edwards could have easily been overlooked, but after attending a camp at UH during the summer, he was offered a chance to walk-on. It didn't take long for first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin to recognize Edwards talents and make him a scholarship player. Edwards has rewarded him with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING: Last night, senior linebacker Marcus McGraw posted on his facebook page that he proposed to girlfriend, Jennifer Orebo. With a wedding date set for April 12, 2012, McGraw becomes the fourth engaged or married player on the UH football team. Sixth-year quarterback Case Keenum will marry his girlfriend of more than six years, Kimberly Waddell, in their hometown of Abiliene this June. Last Christmas, junior defensive lineman Kelvin King and his girlfriend Sasha Jasper were married. Fellow defensive lineman Nathan Ramirez is also married, to the former Amber Caldwell.
UP NEXT: The Cougars will take a week off for spring break from March 14-18 and will return to the practice field on Tues., March 22. The first open scrimmage will take place on March 26 at 11 a.m. at Robertson Stadium.