Reaves making moves at WR
HUNTINGTON -- The wide receiver position is one that is not short on talent for Marshall University's football program this spring.
In all, nine receivers return from the 2012 team, including All-Conference USA first team selection Tommy Shuler while the unit adds receivers Shawney Kersey and Devon "Moo-Moo" Smith to the fold.
So how does a receiver that is in the shuffle for playing time go about catching the attention of the coaching staff?
For Deandre Reaves, the answer was simply getting back to what he knows -- turning heads and ankles.
While the former running back admits he's still getting used to the wide receiver spot, he's starting to get his feet under him at his new position.
As he gets his feet under him, his moves are leaving defenders looking as though they are on skates and leading to big gains for the Thundering Herd offense.
"Making those moves just comes with the game of football," the humble Reaves said with a smile.
Reaves rushed for 1,780 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior at Dominion (Va.) High School, but made the switch to receiver upon signing with Marshall.
After a redshirt season in 2011, Reaves was a special teams fixture last season, using his speed and moves to get downfield and make nine tackles.
This spring, however, he has made quite the impact as a go-to big play receiver for quarterbacks. He caught four passes for 46 yards in Saturday's scrimmage and has produced throughout the Herd's 13 practices to date.
Reaves is starting to perfect his routes and Marshall's quarterback duo of Rakeem Cato and Blake Frohnapfel are looking for him much more as the spring wears on.
"You can tell he's got the juice," Cato said. "He gets the ball and makes people miss. He's very good, very good out there, man."
Reaves credited his teammates with helping him through the transition over the last two years as he has learned what it takes to be an NCAA Division I receiver.
"You'd be surprised coming from one position to another," Reaves said. "It's not as easy as it seems. Playing running back in high school then coming to Division I to play receiver, it's completely different -- learning the routes, finishing well, things like that. Having teammates that I have that are helping me out, that's been the biggest asset."
One of the things that makes Reaves special is his feel for the game.
On several occasions this spring, Reaves has shown an ability to get open for quarterbacks in a spot where they can find him when plays break down because of defensive pressure.
Whether getting in behind the defense for a big gain or coming back to the quarterback, his football I.Q. and instincts are transitioning from that of a running back to those of a wide receiver.
Those attributes are what has separated Reaves from some of the other receivers looking to find their place in the deep wide receiver pool.
"Everybody in our room is able to play in this offense," Reaves said. "When your number is called, you have to make a play. If not, there's five other people next to you or behind you that can do just as well or better. Every chance you get on the field, you have to do what you can."
Reaves has fully done that this spring and has moved into a solid spot in the rotation, along with Shuler and Smith at the slot receiver spots.
And with Reaves' progress, the already-potent Marshall passing attack is getting a bit stronger.
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