All changes seem to go JSU receiver Chambers' way
by Al Muskewitz
Aug 23, 2013 | 2166 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gabe Chambers caught nine passes a year ago as he wore No. 82. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star/File)
Gabe Chambers caught nine passes a year ago as he wore No. 82. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star/File)
JACKSONVILLE – There’s a whole lot of new going on in Jacksonville State receiver Gabe Chambers’ world right now.

There’s a new jersey number to wear, a new coaching staff and playing style to learn and, the most significant alteration of all, a new position to play.

The Gamecocks’ new No. 6 has moved from an outside to inside receiver in new coach Bill Clark’s offensive package, and he’s all on board with it.

“Being on the inside you’ve got more advantage with your speed,” the former Cherokee County High standout said. “They’re basically trying to get the ball in our hands and we can go anywhere.

“I’m not going to be cocky and be me, me, me about it. It’s a team sport and I’m going to do the best I can inside to help my teammates out.”

Chambers is the elder statesman in a JSU receiving corps full of young receivers. The group lost its top three receivers to graduation and have only three back who caught a pass last year.

Chambers is the Gamecocks’ second leading returning receiver behind sophomore Telvin Brown. Chambers caught nine balls for 79 yards in a season shorted to seven games by injury last year, while Brown had 11 catches for 257 yards and two scores in 10 games.

Offensive coordinator John Grass said Chambers has done a "fantastic job” in his new role.

“In the spring we put him at outside receiver and kind of left him there,” Grass said. “We asked him this camp to move inside because of banged-up injury type stuff, and he’s a good job of that.

“We’ve moved him around all over the field. Everybody locally would love to see him do good. He’s fast and he does good things when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s gotten a lot better since spring, for sure.”

Eastern Illinois flourished in the up-tempo spread offense the Gamecocks want to run this season. The Panthers even had a receiver – an inside receiver -- with more than 100 catches in it a year ago.

Chambers’ eye lit up when he thought of that possibility.

“First off, I respect that guy from Eastern Illinois (inside receiver Erik Lora). He’s an athlete,” Chambers said. “For us to be running that type offense, it came to my mind and probably my teammates’ mind, too, we’re about to be up-tempo.

“It’s going to be quick, and we’re going to get the ball in our hands and we’re going to make the fans just come to the game and enjoy it.”

What about him being the 100-catch receiver?

“A hundred catches? That’s a lot compared to what I’d been getting ever since I’ve been here,” said Chambers, who has 11 receptions in two seasons. “That would be a big-time thing.”

Grass wasn’t sure about having a 100-catch receiver with the wealth of receivers at his disposal. He’s thinking more along the line of multiple receivers with 60 or 70 catches.

Chambers would be good with that, too.

“With the receiver corps we’ve got, it’s so hard to focus on one guy,” he said. “We’ve got quickness, we’ve got strength. We’ve got people who can make plays. That’s all we need, really.”

Of course, Chambers isn’t only a threat as a receiver. He’s just as dangerous to go the distance as a kickoff returner. He has averaged 23.6 yards a return in his career.

“It’s one thing I focus on,” he said. “I focus on my receiving, but I focus on more trying to get the offense on the other side of the field, put them in good position. If I run a touchdown back on a kickoff or Telvin runs a punt back, that’s one less touchdown the offense has to score.”

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.
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