DeKALB – As a quarterback, DeMarcus Grady always thought receivers had it easy.
They didn’t have to know the whole playbook, for every position. They weren’t expected to read the entire defensive alignment before every play. And they weren’t counted on to have the football in their hands every snap.
“Sometimes Chandler (Harnish) will come over,” Grady said, “and he’ll say something like, ‘You’ve got to turn this way to catch the ball,’ or something. And I just tell him, you know, from my experience it’s not that easy. It’s not as easy as the quarterbacks try to make it out to be for the receivers.”
Like many quarterbacks, Grady said he was guilty of not understanding how difficult it is to play receiver. There are complexities. A certain footwork will result in a certain route, which determines whether there will be an opening. And that’s all before a receiver even can think about catching the football.
“You think the only thing you need to do is catch the ball and get up field,” Grady said. “There is so much more to it.
“There’s blocking techniques, route techniques, getting off of press (coverage), it’s a challenge. If the (pass) is not perfect, you’ve got to make adjustments, turning your hips and getting guys off of the press. It’s a lot different.”
Grady has spent the past four weeks working to become a quality college receiver. He said he can sense his skills improving with each practice, but it hasn’t been easy.
Always a threat as an athlete, Grady said he can’t simply rely on his athleticism. He hasn’t just had to learn how to catch the football instead of throwing it. He’s concentrated on learning how to run routes and how to block, things quarterbacks don’t typically do.
“I don’t think he’s ever been asked to be physical as a football player,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “So that’s all new to him.”
Doeren said he’s seen some good things out of Grady this spring.
“Saturday he made some nice plays on some screens,” Doeren said. “You saw progress there with him running the football, I know he had a touchdown. ... As long as he’s not making mistakes, and he’s getting better, I think that’s important.”
To help make his transition easier, Grady said, he’s relied on his past athletic experience. But instead of thinking of things as a quarterback, the two-sport NIU athlete thinks of it as a point guard.
“Nate (Palmer) and Willie (Clark) told me, actually, they said, ‘Just play basketball. You got a guy guarding you, you’re trying to get around him, just use the same techniques that you use in basketball to try to get around a guy.’ “ Grady said. “That’s helped me. That’s the mindset I have when I see press (coverage) or I’m trying to block somebody, I treat the block like I’m playing defense in basketball. It all falls into place.”