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Vincent Anderson emerges as threat at receiver
Southeast lost its top four wide receivers from last year's team.
Vincent Anderson made a couple outstanding catches during Southeast Missouri State's scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Houck Stadium.
Those nice grabs helped solidify Anderson atop the depth chart at wide receiver, a position where the Redhawks saw plenty of turnover. Southeast lost its top four wide receivers from last year's team, and Anderson has stepped in nicely to help fill the void.
"I just have to keep working hard," Anderson said. "Don't get relaxed. No one's got a spot. Aug. 30 is still a ways away. We come out, work hard, stay in the weight room, keep our strength up."
The Redhawks don't have a player back who finished with more than 100 yards receiving last season. Fullback Clint Jones and running back Tim Holloman are the only players back who had more than 10 catches last season.
"They are hard working," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said of his receivers. "They are progressing. You've got new guys, a new position coach. They just need time together."
Anderson said the new receiving corps has progressed nicely during the first week of fall camp.
"We had pretty much our top four returning from the spring," Anderson said. "We had some new guys come in and they're helping out a lot. I think they're picking up on offense pretty well so far and I think we're moving along with a good pace."
Freshman Miles Edwards sits atop the depth chart at the other receiver position. Samuel sees a world of potential in the freshman who had five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
"He's talented," Samuel said. "We think he's got another couple levels to take himself to be a really good receiver. I think he has a chance to do some really good things. He finished spring ball at the top of the depth chart."
Edwards, who is listed at 6-foot-3, adds some height to the position. He said the speed of the college game is faster than he expected, but he's adjusting.
"Those who are able to adapt to changes are able to survive," he said.
Junior Michael Williamson is also in the mix for serious playing time. And since Samuel said he plans to use about five receivers, there's a good chance Williamson will see the field more often than his two previous years combined.
"When you get your chance to shine, you've got to go up and make a play," Williamson said. "That's kind of the deal with me is just making sure your alignment is there, your technique is there. When it comes down to running your route, reading the coverage right, if you put in time in practice and put in time in the weight room and you put in time in the film room, you're going to make it when it comes to you if you put in your work."
The Redhawks threw the ball just under 40 percent of the time last season. That means the opportunities are limited for receivers to make impressive catches in scrimmages. That makes it difficult to move up the depth chart. But Anderson said another facet of the game is as important when trying to impress the coaching staff.
"Blocking is key," he said. "We're not just prima donna receivers. We get physical. We get nasty with the defense. Blocking, that's how we separate ourselves."
Then when the offense takes a shot down the field, Anderson said you've got to make the catch.
"We close deals, baby," he said.
While the receivers have worked to improve during the first week of camp, they still don't know who will be throwing them the ball. The battle for the starting quarterback job is still tight. Houston Lillard and Victor Anderson saw the majority of time in Saturday's scrimmage, and Steve Callanan played one series.
"We take so many reps with both quarterbacks," Edwards said. "If one's in, we know what to do. If the other one is in, we still know what to do."
Williamson downplayed the quarterback battle, arguing that the way the offense is designed, it doesn't matter who is throwing the football.
"The thing about our offense is the quarterbacks are usually throwing to a spot," he said. "So if you're a quarterback, you're taking a three-step drop and throwing to a spot. The receivers are running our route to a spot. A lot of times it's not like you've got to adjust to a person's speed or a person's height."
And when it comes down to it, Vincent Anderson doesn't care if it's his twin brother Victor or Lillard throwing him the ball in games. He's got one goal in mind.
"I just want to win," he said. "Whatever we got to do. I just want to put the ball in the end zone. Whenever it's our time to shine, we'll make that play."
The Redhawks' next scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. at Houck Stadium. Southeast opens its season in Cincinnati on Aug. 30.