By Jimmy Hyams
It’s been said that wide receivers are tough to coach.
They can be arrogant, stubborn, self-centered.
But there is another trait among wideouts that Tennessee’s new receivers coach Kevin Beard welcomes.
“I love ‘em cocky,’’ Beard said. “I love ‘em. Why? That’s who you are. That’s all the great receivers.
“It’s not about, `Oh, you can’t handle those guys because they’re cocky.’ No, you’ve got to explain to them when and when not to exercise those actions. Once you learn how to cultivate them and coach them up on when should and shouldn’t, you’ve got a great football player. So I like them cocky.’’
Beard also likes them big and fast. That’s what he looks for when he recruits receivers.
“You have two things you just can’t teach and that’s speed and size,’’ Beard said. “But more than anything, one thing I find myself writing down: Are they dynamic? Can I just get the ball in their hands and forget what everybody else is doing? They’re going to figure out a way to make a play. You can win with those type guys.
“As a coach you’re always trying to figure out a game plan. If you’ve got a guy that’s dynamic, you just call the play and let him go do what he does. That’s one of the things I look for — just a guy that has juice.’’
Beard’s definition of juice might be different from some.
“A lot of people say `juice’ like the rah rah guy,’’ Beard said. “No, I want a guy you can see on the field that he loves to play the game of football. And every play he makes, you can see it in his body language.
“He’s not just `get up off the ground and go back to the sideline or go back to the formation.’ Now I’m not talking about getting no penalties, but I want the guy that you can tell he’s excited about playing football. I love those type of guys.’’
While Beard says he likes size, would he take a 5-foot-8 receiver who is dynamic?
“I would,’’ he said, “but the only thing is, you don’t want your team full of 5-8 dynamic guys. Then you’re like, `We need to get bigger.’
“You have to pick and choose, and in this conference, you need physical guys. So with this being considered one of the most physical conferences in the country, you can’t have too many 5-8 guys.
“They can be physical but they’re small. And everybody’s big in this gladiator league, so you don’t want to fill your team up with too many 5-8 guys.’’
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