Rainey adjusting to new role at receiver

Chris Rainey will take his speed to the wide receiver position this season after playing running back for most of his career.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, August 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.

Chris Rainey has spent a lot of time on the football field, but it was on a computer where he formed his opinion on the wide receiver position.

“I never thought I'd be a receiver,” he said, “because all of the stuff I looked at on YouTube had receivers going across the middle and getting big hits. Now that might be me. I'm just going to try to keep myself from doing that.”

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Rainey doesn't look like your prototypical wideout, but when coaches asked him to make the transition from his natural running back position, he didn't flinch ... even when going over the middle.

“Receiver is fun,” he said. “You don't get many injuries from it. You do a lot of running. It's harder

than running back, but I'm good at it.”

Speed has never been a weak point in Rainey's game. As one of the fastest players in the SEC, and a member of UF's 2010 indoor track team, he's gained a reputation as a burner. But the change in position has forced the redshirt junior to expand his repertoire.

“For receiver, you have to know everything,” he said. “For running back, you know one thing and you're done. Receiver is everything, whether you're on the ball or off the ball.”

He doesn't expect to be an exclusive receiver all season. He said coaches have discussed mixing up his reps, with him moving around in the backfield and out wide.

He expects the versatility to help him stay on the field more than last season, when he compiled 575 rushing yards on 89 carries and 161 yards on 10 catches.

The frustration came to a head late in the season, when he was limited to only a few plays in the season-defining SEC Championship

loss to eventual national champion Alabama.

“I didn't play,” he said. “I only played about one snap. It's the same day that I met Emmitt Smith, and I didn't do nothing. It was embarrassing. It was like a high school team.

“Every time they show us the video, it's like ‘Dang, is that us for real?'”

He said he's watched the game between 20 and 25 times over the summer; sometimes alone, other times with teammates. He still cringes at some points, but never reminds anyone that he wasn't on the field.

“I could, but no,” he said. “It was a team effort. We lost together, so we'll have to finish it next year.”

For Rainey and his teammates, next year starts in just a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, the converted receiver is sharpening his game and routes and working on a different sort of rapport with quarterback John Brantley. No longer in charge of picking up blitzers looking to take the passer's head off, Rainey's enjoying his new blocking assignments.

“It's way easier (to block downfield than pick up blitzes),” he said. “Especially when someone is coming at you, full speed, about 250 pounds and wanting to kill you.”

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