Receivers make big impression at spring game
When the Cougars entered last season’s spring game, they returned no starters at receiver and were inexperienced at the position. Throughout the season, they relied on then-freshmen Larry McDuffey, who had a team high four touchdowns, and Deontay Greenberry, who racked up 569 yards and caught three touchdowns.
This time around, the Cougars return all their starters from 2012, including their two leading receivers, senior Dewayne Peace and junior Daniel Spencer.
Head coach Tony Levine said Monday that there are no excuses for his receiving corps next season.
“You might have heard me use the word ‘young’ quite a bit last year,” Levine said. “You’re not going to hear me use that this season.”
The receivers answered the call at the annual spring game Friday at Carl Lewis Field.
Junior quarterback David Piland connected with four different receivers that each caught touchdowns: Greenberry, Peace, sophomore Casey Martin, and senior Xavier Maxwell.
It was good for the Cougars to see Martin’s sideline catch from two yards out and Peace’s 19-yard fade route on the far right side of the end zone, but it was more important to see a lot of players contribute.
Martin surpassed his four team receptions from last year with seven catches for 56 yards, including the game’s first touchdown. Greenberry got loose in the middle of the field and hauled in a 39-yard catch and run. He had five catches for a team high 76 yards.
Greenberry said he and Piland are building camaraderie by practicing routes before and after practices. He said with more work, the sky is the limit for what Piland and he can do.
“I believe we can be great tandem, but we’re going to have to continue to work each and every day if we want to get there,” Greenberry said.
The Cougars’ depth took a blow Monday when senior Shane Ros suffered a severe leg injury.
“It breaks your heart,” Levine told the Houston Chronicle on Monday. “He means a lot to our program, and it was tough to see him go down.”
Ros could have been another asset to the receiver corps. Ros started the last three games in 2012 and tallied 23 receptions for 337 yards with three touchdowns.
With the loss of Ros, the Cougars hope their recent signing of receiver Markeith Ambles, a 6-foot-2 senior who last played for Arizona Western College and was a five-star player who was recruited to USC, will help fill that void.
“He’s got tremendous speed for someone of his size,” Levine said. “He’s got great hands, great ball skills and body control. For months we’ve been trying to find an older veteran receiver to come and join this team, and I think we’ve found him now.”