Frankly, I was surprised Wednesday when I asked Virginia wide receivers’ coach Marques Hagans about the transition two of his players had made from quarterback to wideout.
Hagans had made a similar transition when he played for Virginia. In fact, he made it twice. He was a quarterback at Hampton High School and Fork Union Military Academy, played wide receiver and quarterback at UVa, then played receiver in the NFL.
Current UVa wide receivers Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell were quarterbacks in high school, but they had 48 and 38 receptions, respectively, for the Cavaliers in 2012.
Through seven games this year, Jennings and Terrell have 15 and 12 receptions, respectively.
Surely, they would have made the transition by now.
“Is that transition maybe a little tougher than people think on the outside?” I asked Hagans on Wednesday.
“Absolutely,” Hagans said. “I think that people underestimate it, that, just because you’re an athletic quarterback, you will be a great receiver or a great returner. I think what people fail to realize is that receiver is a craft, just like any other position on the field, and it does take time.
“When you play quarterback for so long, you have to go back and learn the [new] position and start with the basics. I was fortunate enough to be drafted in the fifth round [by the NFL] as a receiver after I had played two years at quarterback.
“Even though I had a foundation, it still, honestly, took me about 2 ½ years to three years to fully get comfortable with everything as a receiver. It takes time, from learning how to adjust routes, how to line up, how to get off jams, how to use your hands.
“All that stuff comes into play before you finally get comfortable in that role of receiver. It definitely takes time and [Jennings and Terrell] are in the transition of becoming true receivers.
“I’m only saying that because I’ve been one of those players and I’ve done it at the highest levels. I understand the transition and the timetable that it takes.”
Head coach Mike London said the Cavaliers dropped 10 balls at Pittsburgh and another 5-6 on Saturday against Duke. If a receiver touches the ball with his hands, London said, it is viewed as a catchable ball and counts as a drop if not completed.
My contention is that a lot of the catches would have been made with a high degree of difficulty and that quarterback David Watford has not always made it easy for the receivers.
Head coach Mike London has said that Watford’s propensity for overthrowing might be the area in greatest need of improvement.
Watford is Hagans’ cousin, and they are fellow Hampton High School graduates. However, Hagans is reluctant to offer advice on mechanics, etc., a role he leaves to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Steve Fairchild.
“I think coach Fairchild is a great offensive coordinator and great quarterbacks coach,” Hagans said. “The only time I offer advice is when David asks me. Anything that I say to David, I let Coach Fairchild know as well.
“I will never overstep boundaries to say anything against what his coach is telling him. I can only offer my insight from my experience, but if it goes against what his coach is telling him, it’s no good to him.”
Hagans has done what he can to lift Watford’s spirits and not just Watford’s spirits.
“That’s completely different because it doesn’t affect the way he’s being coached.” Hagans said. “As far as encouragement and being there to push him and motivate him, I think that falls in a completely different category.
“We’re family. We talk. But within the realms of coaching and his reads and techniques, I try to stay away from that as much as possible.”