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Lycoming receiver Kriner poised for breakout year

April 8, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Cam Kriner turned his head to the side and chuckled. The question being posed to him was on a subject he's been dealing with this spring quite often.

So at this point, the only thing the Montgomery graduate and Lycoming wide receiver could do was laugh. The 6-foot-5, 170-pound receiver has great talent and was productive in his opportunities with the Warriors during the fall.

But the pink elephant in the room has always been his strength. At a lanky 6-5, Kriner has a frame that just screams athlete. But in the physical world of college football, he's struggled with an essential part of playing his position: getting off the line of scrimmage.

Much of Kriner's work during Lycoming's spring football practices has been with offensive coordinator Scott Brisson on getting a free release from the line of scrimmage. He showed off some of those skills Monday during Lycoming's one-on-one and seven-on-seven passing drills.

"Coming from a single-A school like Montgomery, the corners we played didn't play (with press coverage)," Kriner said. "But the corners here are really physical. They the (the coaches) preach to me all the time is to hand fight and be physical."

Kriner has come a long way from spring ball a year ago when he was manhandled by a Lycoming secondary which featured four-year starters like Matt Talerico and Ryan Fenningham, and an all-conference caliber corner in Kody Flail. Head coach Mike Clark remembers times where Kriner couldn't even get into a route because he couldn't create any kind of separation from defenders.

Yesterday he was physical enough on the snap to create space to be open on drag routes. He was able to create space to get vertical with his routes. It was a great sign for the coaching staff because there aren't many players in the MAC that are as much of a matchup problem as Kriner could be.

"Cam should be a matchup nightmare," Clark said. "He's never going to be incredibly strong, he's just not. But he's improved his strength and he has to be more physical and play with more aggression. If he does that, he's going to be a handful because he can get to the balls that nobody else will because of his size."

Kriner saw time in seven of 10 games last year for the Warriors. He caught six passes for 66 yards, but those six catches came in three games.

But with the graduation of all-conference receiver Jarrin Campman, the Warriors' leading receiver, there's going to be more opportunities for Kriner to make a mark in the fall when he'll be a junior.

Even in a loaded receiving corps that returns starters Matt Atkinson and John Sibel, as well as a talented Ryan Umpleby, there's going to be chances for Kriner to show off his skills.

"I'm expecting some big plays from Matt. John had some big plays last year, too, and I want to get on that bus," Kriner said. "I definitely want to get my first touchdown."

"He should be a bigger part of our offense. He's worked hard in the weight room," Clark said. "When he gets a free release, he's really good. Scott has done a great job coaching him. And Cam is a really good learner who has really good ball skills and should end up being one of our top four guys."

Brisson has worked most with Kriner on hand-fighting at the line of scrimmage. Defenders in press coverage love to get their hands on receivers at the snap because it often disrupts the timing between receivers and quarterbacks.

Kriner was able to knock away defenders' hands Monday to keep from getting jammed off the line. Even in just passing drills -- there's no contact permitted in Division III spring practice -- Kriner looked like a completely different receiver.

He's not expected to be the guy who replaces the production Campman delivered as a senior in the fall. Individually, the Warriors' best receivers are not the same as Campman was in the fall. But collectively, they all possess the tools that led to Campman putting up 43 catches, 561 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns.

Clark understands he doesn't need just one player to make up for that production. He knows his top four receivers are quite capable of combining to replace that production.

"We could have a 30-catch guy and a 40-catch guy," Clark said. "Last year, Jarrin was clearly the best guy and then there was a dropoff to the second, third and fourth guys. Now, we'll have a guy who is the best guy, but there's not going to be the same dropoff."

Especially if Kriner becomes the receiver his coaches think he can be.

 
 

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