Lamar receivers want piece of pie

Published 11:46 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BEAUMONT — If DeAndre Jennings can’t catch a pass, he’ll be more than happy to block downfield for Kade Harrington.

“It really is an honor to block down field for Kade,” the Lamar tight end said. “He is such a humble guy. I’m telling you, after you spring him open for a big run, he’ll come back and say, ‘Thank you very much. That was you, not even me.’ He always comes back and thanks us, no matter what.”

Harrington is a selfless, team-first player, even if he carried the ball almost twice as much as the Cardinals caught a pass in 2015.

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Lamar’s quarterbacks last year attempted 280 passes, completing 158. Harrington had 266 of the team’s 443 carries.

None of the Cardinals have complained about anyone getting a bigger share of offensive plays. That doesn’t mean the wide receivers and tight ends aren’t preparing to make a bigger impact for themselves.

“For us, the bottom line is, when we get opportunities, we’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities,” Lamar wide receivers coach Arlington Nunn. “Eventually, what people start doing, they load up the box trying to stop Kade, and when they do, we’ve got to have guys out on the edge that can go get it.”

So, the wide receivers are aware defenses will key in on who Nunn calls “an exceptional talent” in the All-American running back. That will give a replenished corps plenty of chances in a season, hoping to pick up where current student assistant and former four-year standout Reggie Begelton left off.

Begelton, who worked out for NFL teams as a free agent, caught for a school-record 2,435 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career. The TD count was one shy of Mark Roberts’ record (2013-14).

With four seniors lost from last season — Begelton, Devonn Brown, Gee Gladney and Jayce Nelson — the biggest weakness, Nunn said, among the 2016 receivers is inexperience.

They have replenished in the tight end department with sophomore Duncan McVey and freshmen D.C. Arceneaux, Sam McGee and Mason Sikes. McGee prepped at West Brook, and Sikes starred at Lumberton, where Port Neches’ Nelson is now an assistant coach.

Senior Brannon Beaton has split time between the offense and defense while seeing limited action, but is working out as a tight end.

Handy’s suspension has opened the door for Cisco College transfer Marcus Daggs and sophomore Zae Giles, who came over from the secondary, to contribute on the perimeter.

Clayton Turner, a University of Miami transfer who worked out at quarterback during the spring, is trying his hand as a wideout, where he played with the Hurricanes. Port Arthur Memorial alumnus Trenton Swinton is looking for playing time after a season at Navy, and recent Hamshire-Fannett graduate Kendrick King is hoping to work into the rotation.

Fellow wide receiver DeWan Thompson (Washington State) and Turner are among nine former Football Bowl Subdivision players at Lamar.

Two returnees, redshirt sophomore Martell Hawthorne and senior Jennings, combined for only 17 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns last year. The third returnee, senior Michael Handy, had 181 yards and two TDs on 19 catches last year, but he’s missing the first five games this year for not passing enough credit hours and violating team policy.

So, yeah, the receivers are looking to make a bigger impact.

“Getting hands stronger and just getting my hands a lot better that way,” Jennings said. “I can become more of a value catching balls and just being able to get in the open field and make a play. Make an impact that way so that I’m not just vowed down to a blocking tight end.”

But he’ll take whatever compliments Harrington or anyone in the running corps gives him.

“He comes back and tells us, ‘Hey, you’re part of the offensive line. So, I always thank all of you guys,’ It’s a good feeling,” Jennings said.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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