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BYU football: Lamb’s philosophies yield promising early returns in the Cougar secondary

SHARE BYU football: Lamb’s philosophies yield promising early returns in the Cougar secondary
If we tell the kids they’re good players, and we’re confident in them and show that confidence, they’ll rise to the occasion. And I think we’ve seen that work, early in the year. – BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb

PROVO — BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb, with regards to recruiting, doesn't care a bit about who has offered a kid, much less how many stars a recruiting service has granted a prospect. A player's simple measurables is what he cares about when filling up a defensive roster, and particularly a defensive backfield.

Take true freshman Chris Wilcox, for example.

Wilcox was offered by BYU shortly after Lamb was hired in late December 2015. At the time of the offer, Wilcox had two stars assigned to his name while holding offers from Southern Utah and UC-Davis.

What Wilcox did have, however, was a 6-foot-2 frame, 10.95 100-meter speed and a workable attitude, all of which developed into a somewhat surprising immediate contributor on this year's team.

His first contribution came during BYU's heated matchup against Utah, and after some initial tension, Wilcox settled down and played relatively well.

“It was a surprise because I was supposed to redshirt my first year,” Wilcox said of receiving his first action. “But then we had some things happen and I was told to get ready to go. I was next in line. I was a bit nervous, not going to lie. But after that first play, I was good."

For Lamb, inserting Wilcox into the lineup gave him a different first feeling.

“It’s an exciting feeling,” Lamb said. “We were able to get a look at him on special teams, and we use the same technique in our punt return that we do with our base corner position. So we were able to take a look there, and then feel he could do well responding to the challenge, and we think he’ll continue to get better every week.”

Expressing feelings of excitement and confidence is a common approach for Lamb in developing players.

“We have good players, and I don’t know what it has been in the past, but I believe in the Pygmalion Effect,” Lamb said. “If we tell the kids they’re good players, and we’re confident in them and show that confidence, they’ll rise to the occasion. And I think we’ve seen that work, early in the year.”

Wilcox has largely risen to the occasion, along with other first-year corners, such as Troy Warner and Austin McChesney. As for Warner, he was paired with Wilcox during stretches of last week's game against UCLA, receiving good reviews from coaches.

“We went with two freshmen at times, and they did well,” Lamb said. “You credit the recruiting that’s been going on, what we’re continuing to do, and then we’re just trying to continue to bring guys along.”

As for Wilcox, Lamb believes the true freshman's base measurables have a lot of potential.

“Chris Wilcox has the measurables to be a guy who can become not just a great college corner, but a great pro corner,” Lamb said. “So when we see that, we pull the trigger on that, and that’s been the philosophy instilled in me since I worked with Jim Harbaugh. You look for measurables and by that, I mean height and speed.”

Height and speed are all fine and good, but other aspects have to come into play as well.

“You can then work from (a kid's measurables), and if a kid’s good in the classroom he’s generally responsive to coaching and you can work with that,” Lamb said, “rather than a kid with a bad attitude in a classroom and make that kid a player. A kid has to have the right attitude, and kids like Chris Wilcox have that attitude.”

Wilcox still has a long ways to go until he taps his potential, as he and Lamb readily noted. But it's so far so good, with Wilcox enjoying his time at BYU while being excited for the future.

"It's a lot different here, no doubt," said the non-LDS Fontana, California, native. "But people are great, coaches are great, and I've always felt welcome by everyone. I've already made great friends, and hopefully it will just get better from here. I think it will."

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney