April 3, 2009

Chiles serious about making an impact at receiver

John Chiles watched Jevan Snead beat Florida last season and then take down Texas Tech right in Chiles' backyard at the Cotton Bowl. Chiles also talked to G.J. Kinne recently, and Kinne, a former UT quarterback who transferred to Tulsa, thinks he'll have a chance to start this season.

Chiles was ranked higher as an athlete than Snead or Kinne was as a quarterback when Chiles came out of Mansfield Summit. So it could be tough for Chiles to see those guys having success or on the verge of success at the position Chiles always wanted to play.


But Chiles said Thursday he is at peace with letting go of his dreams of being the next Vince Young at Texas. He says he's not willing to leave Texas to pursue playing quarterback.

"I've been in Texas my whole life," Chiles said. "Where I'm from in Dallas, you hate OU and you love Texas. So when I got the chance to come here, there was really not any question. I didn't take any other visits. I wanted to be a Longhorn.

"I've seen Jevan Snead at Ole Miss and I've talked to G.J. at Tulsa. He thinks he's going to be able to start this year. But I prayed about it, and this is the school I really wanted to be at."


Receivers coach Bobby Kennedy calls Chiles "Mustang" because he is an unbridled talent right now. To minimize Chiles' learning curve, Kennedy only has Chiles working as an outside receiver and not in the slot. Chiles said he is working second-team on kick returns. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Chiles "will definitely be on the field this season if he keeps working as hard as he's working right now."

And that is the question: How serious is Chiles about his move to receiver? How hard is he willing to work? The knock on Chiles before was that he never seemed to be giving everything he had in his first two years at Texas.


"It's a little different," said Chiles, whose weight is down from 220 to 211 and could go lower. "Before, when I was dabbling in the different positions, I wasn't fully committed to it. Now I am. Everything I do is to make me a better receiver.

"I had to mature and I've learned from it," Chiles added. "I'm having fun, but physically this is the hardest I've had to work because coming in I was always the most talented athlete. I really didn't have to work that much in high school. I didn't have to put in that much work and time. Being a junior, I'm a little more focused and ready for that."


Cornerback Aaron Williams said Chiles is not a trash talker and doesn't "dance" to get off the line like a lot of receivers.

"He'll give you a jab to the chest and then get out on his route, and before you know it the ball is in his hands in the end zone," Williams said. "John is a heck of an athlete. Switching from quarterback to receiver is a big jump. I didn't realize how strong he is. I knew he had the big calves, but he's strong in his upper body and lower body. Trying to press him on the line, you're going to have a little trouble because he gives you a good fight."

Chiles agrees his strength right now is getting off man coverage at the line.

"I think I have pretty decent hands," Chiles said. "And I'm a little bit stronger at receiver than what corners are used to. I played receiver in high school. One thing I used to stress to receivers when I was at quarterback was don't let the defensive backs get their hands on you."


Chiles' technique needs the most work. How to run routes, option routes and getting in and out of his breaks with minimum effort and coming out of breaks with his hands up. Chiles said he has been talking to Quan Cosby and former Longhorn B.J. Johnson for advice.

"You have tough days," Chiles said. "But without the tough days you're not going to appreciate the good days. I was ranked pretty high as a quarterback coming out of high school, then you have to come and sit. You get to a point where you don't want to wait anymore.

"During the course of my time here, I've been moving around, trying different things. But for me to focus on one position, I think it's really going to help me improve.

"I just wanted to be a part of this team. I felt like with me on the field with Colt, this offense and this team, in general, we have a good shot at the championship, which is our ultimate goal."


Chiles thought about redshirting when he was at quarterback. But he said that is no longer an option.

"Once I moved to the receiver position, the coaches felt like there would be enough time if I put in the effort to make a run at playing this year," Chiles said.


Chiles sounds comfortable in his move. But I could remember him talking about following in Vince Young's footsteps, so I ask him, "Is there anything you'd change about your time at Texas?"

"It was a learning experience," Chiles said. "Coming in as a freshman I was ranked pretty highly as an athlete. I wanted to play quarterback, and Coach Brown let me. I think everything happens for a reason. I wouldn't change anything.

"Coming out of high school Vince was someone I definitely looked up to. Now I see myself making big catches instead of standing in the pocket and making big throws. Whichever way I got to get it, I'm going to get it."

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