Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catch The Ball

Dear BYU receiver corps:

This is Eric Drage. This is the only image I was able to find of Drage in the amount of time I had, which is both sad and illuminating.

I guess I can't blame the Internet for not remembering Eric Drage. He was 6'0", 185 lbs. He wasn't considered fast enough to play at his hometown school, the University of Arizona. He didn't have a professional football career. Even in this picture, he just looks like another small, skinny, slow white kid playing football at BYU.

But this is why the Internet is completely mistaken for not remembering Eric Drage. During his three years of starting at BYU, he caught 162 passes for 3065 yards and 29 touchdowns. He would throw his undersized frame at every pass thrown his way, catchable or not. In high school, he played with broken fingers. At BYU, he played with broken ribs. Eric Drage gave absolutely everything he had on every single play. He NEVER dropped a pass. EVER. He caught every catchable ball thrown his way, and a bunch of the ones that weren't. I have never seen as many sick, disgusting, and amazing catches out of one player than I saw from Drage. Most players would give up on the balls he caught. I watched him have to juggle a high pass three or four times before reeling it in for a TD. I saw him drag himself on the ground underneath a safety to catch a tipped pass. He went after high passes over the middle. He went after passes that would be hopelessly out of bounds or too far ahead of him for mere mortals to catch.

Eric Drage was the epitome of a BYU receiver: slow, undersized, overachieving, determined, fiery, precise, resourceful, and intelligent. And over all else, he caught the freaking ball. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. There's two parts to the equation of Quarterback U. We know plenty about the first part, the quarterback. But equally important in that equation are the receivers, and BYU has always had fantastic receivers. Nothing flashy about them - they just caught the ball, no matter where it was, or whether they were technically a running back, fullback, tight end, or receiver. Too many to name in one post. Guys like Matt Bellini, Ben Cahoon, Kaipo McGuire, Chad Lewis, Itula Mili, Chris Smith, Gordon Hudson, Glen Kozlowski, Tyler Anderson, Reno Mahe, Curtis Brown, and on and on.

Anyway, you who are getting a free college education playing a skill position at BYU would do well to emulate Eric Drage. You have the physical tools to be better than he was. You just need to get your heart and mind into it, on and off the field. And catch the freaking ball.

That is all.