Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Q&A: Coach of Watch List WR Cannon
By Brandon Chatmon
Exceptional production has been one of the hallmarks for one of the top prospects on Oklahoma’s list for the 2014 class. Yet his high school coach is confident the 2014 Sooners offer has plenty of upside when he begins suit up on Saturdays.
Receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) had 104 receptions for 1,597 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. He boasts offers from OU, Texas, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and others. SoonerNation spoke with Mount Pleasant coach Mart Graham about Cannon’s season, ways the wideout can improve and when he realized the junior receiver was a unique talent.
Oklahoma was among the first schools to offer ESPN Watch List receiver K.D. Cannon.
SoonerNation: How did K.D. improve this season compared to his sophomore year?
Mart Graham: He progressed in his route running and he got bigger, he got stronger. KD got stronger, he ran a sub-4.4 last summer, he’s probably benching 245. He’s about 165 pounds and he’s about 6-foot-1, he’s extremely strong and that helped him a whole lot this year. We’re hoping he puts on 10-15 pounds. People will put a corner in his face and there were times, because of the 165 pounds, he had a hard time. Of course with 1,500 yards, he didn’t have too hard of a time. But he got better, K.D. is a type of kid that wants the ball. You throw him the ball, he’s happy. If he isn’t getting the ball, he ain’t happy.
SN: How does he handle being a guy with a big name, a target on his back?
Graham: I’ve never seen a real good player that wasn’t a little cocky. K.D. is getting a lot of attention and he’s handled it really well.
SN: What were your initial impressions when you met K.D.?
Graham: I’ve been here seven years. I saw K.D. play in seventh grade, eighth grade, I knew he had the athletic ability, I knew he could run. I didn’t know he was going to be this good, that kind of impact player. We watch film of opposing teams and everybody has to change their defense somewhat to account for him. I told our coaches you can see their base [defense] but we’re never going to see what we see [in our game] in a previous game because not many people have got a K.D. Cannon. There were a couple teams that said we’re going to take our chances and that wasn’t a wise choice because you can’t single cover him.
SN: Obviously you saw the signs but when did you realize he would be so productive?
Graham: His sophomore year, he had already made a couple big catches against Liberty-Eylau. We were down 24-22 about 18 seconds to go in the game, we had the ball at the [opponent] 26-yard line. We called timeout with our field goal unit ready to go. We told our quarterback we’re going four verticals, they’ll double K.D., throw to one of the inside receivers.
Walking onto the field, K.D. walks by the quarterback and says “Just throw it up, I’ll catch it.” Our quarterback never looks at anyone else, he throws it up, K.D. comes down with it, with the two kids from Liberty at his feet. We won the ball game. Right then, I knew he was special, to have that kind of confidence and do what he did.
SN: Who are the main colleges coming through?
Graham: Last spring, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, SMU -- Notre Dame was here today -- Houston, Texas A&M. I’ve been surprised LSU or Arkansas hasn’t been here but just about everybody else. He gets letters from everybody and the SEC is starting to kick in right now and Clemson is supposed to come by next week.
SN: What does he need to work on before college?
Graham: He needs to gain some weight. He works hard in the weight room, he’s cut up but he’s going to have to continue that, gain 15-20 pounds and get to 180 [pounds] so he doesn't get pushed around. He runs pretty good routes right now, I have a good receivers coach who pushes him hard and K.D. responds. In college everybody you play is good, he’s going to have to continue working. He works hard and will continue to get better.
SN: Where would K.D. rank in terms of competitiveness during your time coaching?
Graham: He’s, by far, the best receiver I’ve ever coached. And as far as competitiveness, he’s extremely competitive. He thinks he’s the best and he’ll try to show it every Friday night. The thing about him, he’s a good practice player, he works hard in practice.