BATESVILLE, AR (LYON) – With just over a month of practice as a group, the wide receivers on the Lyon College football team have shown a lot of growth, both in their technique and mental toughness. Receivers coach Nick Palese says he's proud of what he has seen thus far.
The group of 10 wideouts, made up of five X-receivers and five Z-receivers, had a chance to show what they were made of last weekend when the Scots held their first official intrasquad scrimmage as the first-year program continues to work toward its initial season of intercollegiate play in 2015.
The group started out slow with no catches in the first half, but finished the contest with nine receptions for 140 yards as the White Team and Blue Team fought to a 17-17 tie. Lyon quarterbacks completed 50 percent of their passes in that second half. A number of the catchers were in traffic, which pleased Palese.
"They've all come a very long way in the short time they've been with us," Palese said of the receivers. "I've started noticing their hands getting better and they're doing a better job with their hips and feet. They come to work with a smile every day and are eager to learn.
"It's a tough situation to come in to. Everybody comes from different systems in high school, with a different vocabulary and calls for plays. The speed of the game is different at this level as they learn how we do things here. But they're all very receptive and are doing a fantastic job."
The Lyon Z-receivers are most often the slot receivers on the offensive set, unless the Scots are split with receivers on both sides of the field in a "Pro" set. The Z-receivers on the squad include Kensley Fort (FR/Arlington, Tex.) (5-11, 165), Dwane Robinson (FR/Palm Bay, Fla.) (6-0, 175), Nick Hinkley (FR/Allen, Tex.) (6-1, 175), Trent Webb (FR/Kingwood, Tex.) (5-9, 160) and Vince McNew (FR/Henderson, Tex.) (5-7, 155).
Hinkley pulled in one pass for 19 yards in the scrimmage, while Webb hauled in one for a 12-yard pickup.
"Vince probably runs the best routes coming in and out of his cuts," Palese said. "He also has great hands.
"Trent is an extremely hard worker and has done everything we've asked. He's had to run the ball on some wing traps and he's picked up the things we've thrown at him. He's been a pleasant surprise.
"Nick knows both the "X" and the "Z" routes and is very capable. Dwane is an exceptional athlete and fun to watch make plays. Kensley had a knee injury in high school and hasn't had the opportunity to show us what he's got yet, but I'm excited to see him progress when he gets back to full contact."
The X-receivers are the bigger targets on the Lyon wideout corps. They have also been impressive, says Palese.
Players making up that group includes Ben Palazzi (FR/Huntsville, Ark.) (6-5, 175), Logan Rose (FR/Pea Ridge, Ark.) (6-3, 170), Deion Johns (FR/Bald Knob, Ark.) (6-1, 205), Dalton Homan (FR/Malvern, Ark.) (6-4, 220) and Tripp Reed (FR/Denton, Tex.) (6-3, 180).
Homan was the leading receiver in Saturday's scrimmage, with three catches for 67 yards, including a 50-yard reception. Johns pulled in a pair of passes in traffic for 14 yards.
"Logan and Ben have done a good job of coming in and picking up the offense," Palese explained. "I've noticed a huge improvement in their play.
"Tripp is going to make a very good receiver one day. He's very athletic and has the ability to stretch the defense vertically if he keeps working hard.
"Dalton is constantly impressing me. He's an extremely hard worker and great to be around. And Deion is also doing great. He always has a smile on his face and made some great catches in traffic in the scrimmage to move the sticks [first down markers]. He catches the ball even though he's hit and he uses his body and hands to make things happen."