By TOM LEA
MADISON – Chris Beatty has a somewhat difficult task as Wisconsin’s wide receiver coach.
Aside from the obvious on-field questions that encapsulate the position, Beatty will have to find a way to overcome the fact he’s the third different wide receiver’s coach in as many years.
At the conclusion of Monday’s practice inside the McClain Center we caught up with Beatty, who is in the midst of developing the receivers that will compliment veteran Jared Abbrederis.
The following is a question and answer with Beatty.
Reporter: What are your initial impressions of the position? I know it’s early in spring camp, but coach Gary Andersen talked a lot about how he needs to see something out of this position and that there are a lot of question marks. What are your initial impressions of your guys here?
Beatty: Jared (Abbrederis) is about what I thought he was going to be. He’s got some suddenness and he’s polished. He’s done some great things. We’ve got a lot of guys that need to separate themselves. Kenzel Doe has got some suddenness and wiggle. I’m excited about him in the slot.
I think Jordan Fredrick has played a lot of ball and you can see he’s done some good things. He’s a big body. Jeff Duckworth has made some plays in the past so we want to be able to build on that as well. We need to get his weight down a little bit and get him moving.
Marquis Mason made some plays today. He’s a big, good-looking kid that’s got a body that can be able to post some guys up. There are some parts there. We’ve got to be able to refine them a little bit and develop them. That’s part of it. A lot of times you look at it and you’ve got to get two or three guys to make that No. 2. It’s not necessarily about that one guy being the No. 2. It’s taking the best.
Reggie Love has made some plays. We’ve got to find a guy and find roles for some guys to be a compliment to Jared.
Reporter: Do you put a lot of emphasis on what you saw on film from the guys that played in games a year ago or is it kind of a fresh start? Are these guys all on the same playing field right now?
Beatty: I try to make it more of a fresh start. I watch the film. I watched last year and the year before. I knew a lot of those guys because I had sat back and we had got a bunch of their stuff on trade when I was at Illinois. I had known a lot of the guys when I was coming in.
You want to give them a chance because you don’t want to have a predetermined thought pattern on what people can and can’t do. You want to give them a chance to show what they can and can’t do. That’s kind of been my approach from day one. I said, ‘Hey, whoever steps up is going to be the guy that plays.’
Reporter: You look at Marquis Mason and he’s a guy that just said over the years he hasn’t had a great practice work ethic. He says he’s developing that right now and that he’s feeling more comfortable right now than he ever has. Can you see that in him? I know you’ve only been here a couple months…
Beatty: No, but I don’t know what to measure that against in the past. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s got some tools. He’s got the frame to be able to post some guys up and to get open and be a physical mismatch. Now we just have to refine some of his skills. He made some plays today on some routes he’s got to be good at. He’s got to be a guy that can Michael Irvin some slants, post some guys up, run comebacks and be able to use a big body like that.
Those are things we want to continue to develop.
Reporter: Would you say at that position there is no real clear-cut favorite at No. 2 behind Jared? Anyone can really emerge for any spot this year?
Beatty: It’s a competition every day. Jordan will get the first shot because he’s played the most ball and he’s entered the year as that guy. But we’re going to give guys a chance and rotate them through and see who emerges. That’s kind of the whole process.
Reporter: How much can you tell before you put the pads on?
Beatty: Not a lot. It will be night and day when they can actually put their hands on you. Right now you’re running knowing they’re not going to knock you out. It’s a little different when they start doing that.
Reporter: What kind of style do you like to see out of a wide receiver? Do you like to see a physical, bump and run or do you like to see finesse guys? Is there a certain style you like to emphasize?
Beatty: Not really. I’m kind of in between. As I’ve gone through the process of coaches I’ve recruited and coached Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and Stedman Bailey (West Virginia). Those guys are extremely different than these guys.
Then I go to Vanderbilt and those guys are a little bit closer to these guys, where they’re 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3. Jordan Matthews develops into an all-SEC guy. Chris Boyd was the same way. Going into it I was thinking I like the bigger guys until I had Tavon and those guys. Then I said I want some more of them. But it’s hard to find them. So you adapt to what you have and develop as much as you can with what you’ve got.
Reporter: What do you like about Jared so far?
Beatty: I like everything right now. He’s sudden. He gets on top of guys. You can tell he’s been coached. He’s polished. He’s really good with the double moves and he’s good at the top of his routes. He does a good job at a lot of the little things. I’m just hoping I can give him the little bit to help him make that next jump. I think the guys before myself have done a good job developing him to this point. Hopefully I can be part of taking him to the next level.
Reporter: Does he want that? Marquis Mason was saying Jared is always asking questions.
Beatty: He’s one of those guys that wants to get better. I don’t think he feels like he’s arrived by any stretch of the imagination. He knows he’s got work to do to get to where he wants to get. To be considered elite, that’s the bottom line. If you want to play at that next level you’ve got to do some things that are special. There are a lot of good receivers in this country and a lot of good ones in this conference. He’s got some things to work on and develop. We’re eager to do it.
Reporter: When you watched film of him last year was he stunted by the fact there wasn’t really a true No. 2 guy?
Beatty: I don’t think he was stunted. I think it hurts you a little bit because people roll their coverage’s and do all those things to try to take you away. The thing I think he’s really good at that helps him is he’s good at those double moves that sometimes eliminates some of that help coverage over the top. Obviously we’ve got to develop a No. 2 for us to be able to get to another level as a team.
You had Nick Toon a couple years ago and you had Jared. You had two viable options. You had Russell Wilson magnifying their talents. For us, we’ve got to be able to develop — obviously not a Nick Toon — but somebody has to be able to be viable on the other end. That’s part of us as coaches being able to do that.
Reporter: How about you personally? Are you settled into Madison? Are you liking the city?
Beatty: I love the city. Great people. A lot of times people sit back and see you go through a bad season and they think it’s a bad deal. Everybody is like, ‘Oh, I feel sorry for you.’ I’m thinking this is the greatest thing ever. I went through a season where I learned a bunch of ball, both good and bad. I was in a position to have a chance to coordinate at a high level and work for some people that were great people and learn from some people that struggle.
Then you come into a situation where you’re in a top 10 program and be able to do that. I’ve been fortunate. All of those things kind of worked out and it couldn’t have worked out too much better for me professionally.
Reporter: You’re in a tough spot though. You’re the third position coach in three years. Are the guys adhering to you?
Beatty: I think they’re pretty much in tune. I got a little track record so those guys can look at some of the guys I’ve coached in the past and say, ‘Hey, he isn’t coming in to his first rodeo.’ I’ve been at this level before. That part of it is exciting for them. They’re hoping they’ve got somebody that can elevate their game just a little bit. It’s exciting for me.
I’m trying to be somewhere and not move. I’ve moved a little bit. All of them were good. Then last year (Illinois) wasn’t so good. It’s all part of the profession. Like I said, these guys are really good guys and we’re just going to develop them.