Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cole transitioning to defense.......FROM RECEIVER TO DB: Red and Black vet now tries to prevent scores

Cole transitioning to defense

FROM RECEIVER TO DB: Red and Black vet now tries to prevent scores
To render Lester Cole speechless is no small feat. Yet, there he stood last Saturday, in all his quietness, as he watched a Broome County receiver sky over him for a touchdown catch.
The California native has treated many Empire Football League cornerbacks to a similar fate. But the Watertown Red and Black veteran now finds himself on the other side ball, having converted to defensive back for the 2009 campaign.
He's discovered preventing touchdown grabs is a bit trickier than making them.
"I'm usually the one doing the out-jumping," Cole said Thursday. "It's a learning experience. My goal this year was that nobody would score on me. I know what it's like to score on corners and the taunting that goes on from a receiver. It made me want to work even harder to get my techniques down."
Cole approached defensive coordinator Rich Potter during preseason workouts with the idea of playing corner. But the self-induced transformation was hardly necessary.
In three seasons catching passes, Cole racked up 1,457 yards on 56 receptions. Fourteen went for touchdowns, and his 26.0 yards per catch made him one of the most elusive offensive threats in the EFL.
He wanted to learn a different phase of the game, though — the one in which he delivers the bruises and does the chasing.
"I wanted to do the hitting. You get hit so many times and get tired of it," said Cole, who has been credited with three tackles on the year. "Eventually you want to return the favor."
Learning the position's basic skills was Cole's first challenge. But it's not like he spent a lot of time watching methods opposing corners used — he was too busy running by just about every one who lined up to cover him.
Potter, whose squad has given up a league-low 13 points, has been a willing teacher.
"He was raw," Potter said. "He didn't know a lot of stuff like when to turn or what routes to read. He wanted to play up and tight to everybody, but he's learned he doesn't have to play mano-a-mano all the time. But you can't run by him. He's too fast."
Cole said practices have become a lot less painful since his move. In the past it was more likely for him to visit the trainer's room on Tuesdays and Thursdays (practice days) than on Saturday gamedays. He appreciates the break.
"Now I'm playingwithguys like Mike Dumaw and Greg Roberson," Cole said. "They're the kind of players you want on your side. Now when I see them I know they're coming to help."
He'll still make occasional visits to the offensive huddle, as he did in the season opener against Massena. His versatility is too valuable to keep on one side of the line of scrimmage.
For Cole, though, the greatest catch would be to earn an EFL title. And he's willing to contribute in any way.
"I'm a known receiver. So coach might throw me out there as a diversion or to go deep," he said. "Whatever they need. My goal is to win a championship."

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