The Arizona Wildcats saw a couple of notable roster changes this offseason heading into the spring, among those was Cam Denson, who will be moving from corner to wide receiver. There was word last season that Denson was being worked into the offense every now and then in practice and that the move seemed promising for all parties.
The move was officially made when the team released the official roster, but the idea of flipping to wide receiver seemed to always be in the back of Denson's mind.
"Midway through the last season, I just wanted to play receiver," Denson said about his craving to play on offense. "I didn't really want to play cornerback anymore, but I was still at the position and was going to give it my all."
"After the bowl game I talked to Rich Rod and I was like 'Being on offense is really what I want do' and he said we'll make it happen," he said about the conversation he had with Rich Rodriguez to make the switch. "We came back after the break and now I'm a receiver. He just agreed with it and rolled with it. He said that he also wanted to do it so it just happened to be at the right time."
"You play with a little more enthusiasm because you actually get the ball and stuff like that. But all along I think I was actually a receiver so I think this is the thing that makes me happiest."
Once an electrifying playmaker on offense at Salpointe Catholic, playing at Arizona Stadium to capture the Division II State Championship his senior year of high school, Denson feels much happier to be on the other side of the field.
"It always brings back good memories because you're scoring touchdowns and giving guys high fives and just being a team player out here. But the last time I played [receiver] out here it was a fun one," he said about his State Championship game with Salpointe.
Although he was a standout receiver for the Lancers, there's still an adjustment period to learn the position once again, and fit into the Arizona offense.
"I wouldn't say I'm more comfortable because I still have to learn the offense, I have to get back into the role of being a receiver and everything but I like the change," he said about the transition. "I felt a little natural and a little rusty as well. I'm still getting into it but we've been coming out here on Tuesdays and Thursdays running routes and stuff like that so I've been getting better,"
He's still adjusting to the move and will have the entire offseason to work on his craft. Throughout that time, he'll be working with the quarterbacks for timing and picking up some tips from the upperclassmen receivers.
"It's been real good," he said about working on the timing with quarterbacks. "We also go on Saturdays and being able to throw with them is just getting the timing down and all that much better. I gotta get with the guys. Trey Griffey and everyone is helping me out with stuff like that and teaching me the offense and helping with route running out there, the whole nine yards. Getting with my teammates and allowing them to get me better, having them help me get better."
Some might think that playing corner for two years and then switching over to wide receiver seems like a waste for him, but he certainly doesn't feel that way.
"No," he said when asked if the years felt wasted. "It made me a smarter football player and it made me a better football player. Now knowing what the defense is trying to do and what they're throwing at me. I know what the defense is trying to do. I know if they press man or bail three or whatever they're trying to do, I'm more familiar with that because I actually participated on that side of the ball."
Denson is a smaller receiver, listed at 5'11". Outside of Trey Griffey and incoming receiver Shawn Poindexter, there's not a whole lot of size on the outside. But Denson says that he has been working on the outside, and there's a significant difference between the two types of receivers.
"Inside you get more bubbles and short routes, but the outside receivers are more liable to go down field and make the big play," he explained. "I see the slot receivers as more of the first down guys and the outside receiver making big plays."
Denson knows what he has to work on this spring in order to crack the four receiver rotation. It'll come down to two things for him.
"Developing some consistency at receiver. Being able to run routes and get open. If you can do that at receiver you will be successful."
"Route running basically," he said when asked about what he wants to improve on. "Reading the coverage with route running and top of the route. Staying over on my toes and coming out of the break."
Hopefully he'll be making corners trip over their toes come September.