“Be a sponge” Rookie receivers learning from veterans

As the second season of Brad Collinson’s tenure as head coach of the Concordia Stingers begins, a quick look at the team’s roster makes something extremely clear.

There are a lot of new faces on this squad.

The Stingers currently have 22 first-year players on their roster, with 13 more red-shirting. Three of those rookies are receivers.

If you’ve tuned in to the team’s first couple games this season, one of those rookies you’ve probably seen the most is receiver Jeremy Murphy. In the season opener, Murphy caught five passes for 95 yards. In week two against McGill, he caught seven passes for 58 yards. In week three, he added another 24 yards on two receptions. Murphy was last year’s RSEQ Division 3 Offensive Player of the Year thanks to an impressive season at Champlain College Saint-Lambert.

Alongside the first-year receiver are only two fifth-year ones on the team, James Tyrrell and Sam Nadon – both of whom have been relied on to provide on and off field leadership. Collinson spoke about the importance of building a culture of competition between younger and older players.

“Everybody is learning this year because it’s a brand new offense,” said Collinson. “We want to create competition, we want those young guys to learn from the veterans, and to have some of those young guys beat out those veterans [for roster spots].”

Murphy is joined by other first-year receivers like Tristan Mancini and Jean-Simon L’Italien. For Murphy and Mancini, who played together at Cégep, the chance to lean on the veterans around them has been invaluable.

“It’s pretty cool because these guys have been here a while,” said Murphy. “I’m next to (Tyrrell) on the field all the time, he knows what he’s doing and everything he’s taught me has helped me a lot.”

“There’s a vet on my left, there’s a vet on my right,” added Mancini. “As soon as I have a question, I can ask them.”

Tyrrell and Nadon have embraced their roles this year as leaders on the team. When I caught up with Tyrrell, Nadon, Murphy, and Mancini after practice before their match against Laval, the two fifth years were quick to praise their rookie receivers for their eagerness to be a part of the team and learn, including showing up for summer workouts before the season even started.

“It’s pretty cool that we have rookies that come in with talent and willingness to learn and get better,” said Tyrrell. “There’s an immediate trust on the field once the ice is broken off the field.”

“These guys are open-minded,” said Nadon. “When we tell them something, they listen. They’re two guys who fit in real good, real nice guys.”

On the field, the Stingers look to establish themselves as a contender in the RSEQ division alongside the usual powerhouses of Laval and UDEM. Off the field, Tyrrell and Nadon both talked about wanting to teach the younger guys to continue to be as open as possible.

“Be a sponge,” said Tyrrell. “For your first couple of years, it’s just about absorbing as much information as possible.”

As Murphy and Mancini continue to establish themselves on the team, the biggest thing they’ve learned is how much more skilled university game is compared to CEGEP.

“You gotta play with speed,” said Mancini, who caught his first U Sports pass in week three on a long 27-yard reception. “You can’t be hesitant anymore because everyone’s good here.”

“Everyone’s bigger and faster so you really can’t think twice,” added Murphy. “If you’re doing something, just go. Even if you’re messing up, you just have to go.”


Photo by Matthew Coyte

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