Aug. 10, 2000
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -
A big question for the University of Wyoming football team headinginto the 2000 season is: Who will catch senior quarterback Jay Stoner'spasses?
One part of that answer is redshirt freshman wide receiver Ryan McGuffey.Stoner expects a lot from the Riverton product.
"He's definitely one of our top targets," Stoner said Wednesday during mediaday for the UW football team at War Memorial Stadium. "Coming out of thespring we really didn't know who was going to be the wide receivers.
"We thought (McGuffey) would be in there quite a bit. But with the work hedid up here this summer, he solidified a starting spot for himself."
What McGuffey did over the summer was stay in Laramie and work with Stoner.They threw passes to each other just about every day.
Even before summer, McGuffey had emerged as one of Stoner's top targets. Hecaught a lot of Stoner's passes during spring drills until a shoulder injurysidelined him for the last week.
But what McGuffey missed in spring, he made up in the summer.
"Every afternoon we would be throwing the ball and working on every route,"he said. "I feel comfortable with Jay. By the end of the summer, we hadeverything down really good."
Stoner said McGuffey has all the tools to be a good receiver.
"Physically, he's a big guy," Stoner said of the 6-foot-1, 197-poundMcGuffey. "He can take a pounding and he can deliver a pounding. He's gotgood speed for being that big of a guy.
"I think the best thing for him is his desire. He wants to go out, catchevery pass and score a touchdown every time.
"He picks up on stuff really easily. If I think he ran a route wrong or if Itell him how he should finish a route, he does it perfectly the next time."
Catching passes isn't the only thing expected of McGuffey.
"He's stepped up to become somewhat of a leader," receivers coach RobPhenicie said. "It's hard to do that as a freshman.
"Usually, you would like to have three our four seniors doing that. But wehave mostly freshmen and sophomores.
"We are putting a lot on Ryan's shoulders. He wants it, so we're going togive it to him until he proves us otherwise."
While McGuffey has done everything right so far, he still has a big test topass.
"The only thing Ryan needs is to catch a pass, get his bell rung and getback in the huddle," Phenicie said. "He hasn't been hit like he's going toget hit (in UW's first two games of the season at) Auburn and Texas A&M andagainst any team in the Mountain West Conference."
With UW's top five receivers from last season gone, there is a lot ofpressure on McGuffey - and the rest of UW's inexperienced receivers - todevelop fast.
McGuffey said he's confident that will happen.
"There's a lot of great receivers on this team," he said. "I think we'll bea strength of this team."