August 9, 2011

Something to prove

With so much early-camp focus on wide receivers that have yet to take a collegiate snap, juniors Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten may actually have more to prove.

The reasons are two-fold.

For Brown, it's been a matter of getting adjusted to the speed of the college game, while Wooten saw his field time drop inexplicably last year and faces the challenge of proving to coaches that he's still capable of playing an integral role.

Brown appears to be headed in the right direction.

The 6-foot-5, 222-pound native of Memphis is still listed as the first team flanker (Y) although he is busy holding off a host of competitors anxious to make an impact of their own.

"Basically, I'm just out there grinding every day," Brown said. "I definitely came in slow my freshman year and my sophomore year I started making progress, but now I feel a lot more comfortable and am more effective running routes than I was before."

His numbers tell the tale.

As a freshman, Brown appeared in eight games but caught just two passes for 15 yards before catching 11 balls for 133 yards in 12 contests for the Bulldogs last fall.

This year, with A.J. Green and Kris Durham having moved on to the NFL, Brown hopes those numbers will improve.

"It's slowed down tremendously," Brown said. "I know my job and I know how to do it."

Wooten, who only caught seven balls for 41 yards after catching 10 for 197 as a freshman has one very specific goal that he hopes to fulfill.

"As far as what I need to prove is to let the coaches know that I'm a dependable guy that can come in for any type of situation and be successful. That's the main thing," said Wooten (5-10, 185), who missed April's G-Day game while nursing a foot injury that limited his participation in spring drills. "I've just got to come out and work. I'm not complaining about anything. I know it's up to me to get better and show them what I can do. I feel great right now but it doesn't mean anything unless I don't show up."

Wooten said he feels he's improved his conditioning in the months since G-Day, which is a good thing considering the sense of urgency he currently feels to prove he's still the same player coaches thought they had when he signed out of prep powerhouse Glades Central High.

"If you don't have intensity, you don't have anything," Wooten said. "If you don't go out and give it the best you can and compete, you get what you get for it. So that drives me every day to go out and let the coaches know they can depend on me to make plays."

Brown said he's noticed the effort Wooten has been making.

"Wooten's looking real good," Brown said. "He's come in and made some deep ball catches. Everybody is pulling their weight now."

That includes the four freshmen - Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Sanford Seay.

"Malcolm looks real good, real fast and real quick," said Brown, echoing the long list of superlatives that have already been directed his way.

"Whenever he's (Mitchell) has had questions, he's been asking me so I guess I've been kind of teaching him," Brown said. "When I was a freshman I came in and asked guys like Mike (Moore) and Kris (Durham) a lot of question. I'm just paying back the favor."

Wooten has some advice of his own.

"Keeping up with the competition that you have to do," Wooten said. "Of course, you have to get adjusted to a lot that's going on, but every year people are getting better so you've got to get better yourself. You've always got to come ready to work."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.