Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles concerning preparations for preseason football workouts at Northeastern A&M College.
One of the important parts in the development of the Northeastern A&M Golden Norse offense during the preseason will be the maturation of the receiving corps.
“We accomplished everything we started out to do as a coaching staff during the spring,” Golden Norse head coach Rob Green said. “The kids seemed to have understood what we were trying to accomplish during the spring and they worked real hard to get to a point where our passing game should be a real weapon.”
With the progression of Bo Bowling and Kaelin Woods as bonafide passers, the experience in the Golden Norse receiving corps should pay big dividends during the fall preseason.
Former starting quarterback Blake Byford along with veteran Damyon Dooley return to anchor the tight end position.
Byford (6-1, 241 of Edmond) has put on 35 pounds of muscle since switching to tight end. In three games at tight end Byford had one reception for 15 yards.
“Blake has so much pure athletic ability that he has to be on the field,” Green said. “He's really worked hard at improving his blocking ability to go with his sure hands.”
Dooley (6-3, 238 of Commerce) had two catches for 15 yards in two games before being sidelined with an injury.
Sophomore Tommy Fitzgerald (6-2, 225 of Ardmore) caught one pass for 27 yards in two games last year and has returned following an injury.
Redshirt freshmen Bishop Stewart (6-2, 230 of Smryra, Ga.) and Darren Templeton (6-7, 283 of Tulsa Edison) have also shown some progress at tight end.
Recruits Matt Handy (6-2, 200 of Afton) and Donte Newton (6-1, 220 of Oklahoma City Millwood) are expected to challenge for a starting job in the fall.
Handy caught 32 passes for 435 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior for the Eagles.
“Our tight ends are pivotal to establishing a running game,” Green said. “Not only do they have to block, but they've also got to be able to catch the football.”
“Not only do we have a lot of experience coming back at the receiver positions, but more importantly, they are also all fundamentally sound,” Green said. “Along with excellent speed, they all have the ability to catch the ball over the middle in traffic.”
When Kevin Radford (6-4, 183 of Tulsa Washington) and Curtis Tucker (6-1, 208 of Stillwater) aren't playing running back, the two speedsters could be starting as wide outs. Radford has 4.49 speed in the 40 after catching seven passes for 67 yards as a freshman. Tucker, who sat out last season with an injury, run s 4.37 in the 40 after leading the 2005 Golden Norse with 38 receptions for 744 yards and six touchdowns.
Also returning as experienced wide outs are former Tulsa Union standouts Michael Barnett (5-11, 201) and Jake Borgesmiller (6-4, 195). Barnett caught four passes for 77 yards and one TD last season while Borgesmiller snared nine passes for 128 yards.
Redshirt freshmen Albert Coleman (5-11, 200 of Oklahoma City Western Heights), Ryan Gonzales (6-2, 201 of Del City) and Chase Hart (6-1, 185 of Norman) are challenging for the three wide receiver spots.
Incoming freshmen wide receiver signees include Zach Simpson (6-1, 190 of Miami), David Ballenseifen (6-2, 185 of Mustang), Walter Coleman (6-2, 195 of Denton, Texas) and Don Hawkins (6-3, 200 of Tulsa Lincoln Christian).