Ryan Umpleby didn't know what to expect when he came to Lycoming College. He was open to anything, though, when coming to Williamsport from Forest Hill, Md.
He was willing to play whatever role the coaches had in mind for him. He had played both offense and defense at Fallston High School and returned kicks. Heck, he was even the Cougars' long snapper.
Despite starting his career deep on the Warriors' depth chart during camp, Umpleby has become one of a number of receivers who have added to the depth of Lycoming's receiving corps. Maybe their numbers aren't quite as sexy as the number their opponents from Widener will have entering Saturday's important Middle Atlantic Conference game at David Person field, but they're just as effective in the Warriors' system as the Pride's receivers' numbers are in their vertical passing game.
"We've got a lot of people we can throw in there in three-wide and four-wide situations," Umpleby said. "We've got short threats and deep threats, with our running game we can play-action and go for deep balls. We've had a lot of big completions and we think we can keep doing it."
The numbers for Lycoming receivers are never going to quite match the numbers being put up by receivers who are playing in spread offenses. Lycoming head coach Mike Clark and offensive coordinator Scott Brisson still believe in a base of running the football and asserting your will on defenses with a punishing offensive line.
If anything, it makes the numbers being put up by the Warriors' receivers a little deceiving. Sure, 26 receptions, 335 yards and eight touchdowns from Jarrin Campman could tell any defensive coordinator he might want to keep an eye on the senior from Clearfield.
But if you strictly follow the numbers, they would tell you Matt Atkinson isn't a receiver to be too concerned about with nine receptions and 125 yards, and that Umpleby isn't a big part of game plans with nine receptions and 82 yards. Defensive coordinators are smarter than that, though. Atkinson has been hampered by injuries all the way back to the spring, including one that forced him to miss the King's game three weeks ago.
The reality is Lycoming quarterback Tyler Jenny has any number of weapons to choose from. In recent weeks, he's even utilized fullback Nick Mongiello for a couple big plays, including the opening touchdown against FDU-Florham two weeks ago.
"I think all of those guys are capable of making plays that will helps us win a football game," Clark said.
Campman is already tied for 10th with four players on Lycoming's single-season record list with eight touchdown receptions. He's been a big part of Lycoming's efforts to stretch the field vertically, catching long touchdown passes against Lebanon Valley, King's and FDU-Florham.
Sibel and Umpleby have been pleasant surprises, though. Sibel, who saw a lot of time a year ago, is second on the team with 23 receptions and may have the best hands on the team. Umpleby contributed three catches in a key win over Delaware Valley in Week 2. He caught his first touchdown two weeks ago against FDU-Florham.
But it was those three catches against Delaware Valley that got Umpleby feeling like a part of the team. He went from being a nervous wreck in the season opener against Brockport and against Delaware Valley to feeling comfortable in his role as a fourth or fifth receiver.
"Coming into camp it was real tough and I was fourth or fifth string behind all the starters," Umpleby said. "I just moved up on the depth chart and it feels like high school again. It's fun."
"I guess for any freshman to have a big impact is surprising," Clark said. "His high school film was very good, so I'm a little surprised, but I'm not shocked. He doesn't even know how good he could be. He's scratching the surface. He's got great hands, he's very fluid and a talented kid."
Sibel's been a stalwart for the Warriors after coming from a high school program at Pennsbury where he wasn't exactly featured in an offensive role. The Falcons' Web site is www.phsgroundandpound.com. There's also a separate section recognizing their 1,000 rushers for a season.
So what Sibel is showing as a receiver this year is really the first time he's been able to showcase it. He's shown great hands capable of catching anything thrown his way. He's shown great awareness of blocking downfield, evidenced by when he made a key block on a safety to spring Craig Needhammer for a 61-yard touchdown run against Lebanon Valley, and a key block on the punter on Campman's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown against FDU-Florham.
"He's an effort kid. He's not blessed with incredible size and strength, but it's amazing what a little bit of want-to can do for people," Clark said of Sibel. "I don't know if overachiever is the right word, but he does the best he can do at everything he attempts to do."
And so far, his best, and the best of the receiving corps, has been more than good enough.