Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 8/7/12
TEMPE, Ariz. Jamal Miles keeps a mental scrapbook of all his special-teams scores. Theres the punt return at Peoria High against Goodyear Millennium when two defenders had him bracketed. The ball bounced and they had slowed down because they didnt think I was going to grab it, he said with a chuckle. I did, and I just took off and took it to the house. Theres the first score of his college career on a 99-yard kickoff return against UCLA during his sophomore season. I didnt score all freshman year, so it made me feel like I finally belonged, he said. There was a 98-yard kickoff return vs. UC-Davis last season, a 95-yard kickoff return at Washington State and a 78-yard punt return vs. Oregon State. ASUs new coaching staff wants Miles to add to that scrapbook -- a lot -- but theyd also like him to bolster another book: The one that features him as a go-to receiver. The Sun Devils lost four receivers Gerell Robinson, Aaron Pflugrad, Mike Willie and George Bell who accounted for 175 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Miles is the only returning receiver who caught at least 20 balls. The Sun Devils are hoping he can dwarf that number in his senior season. Hes talented, and youve seen him make plays. He can do special things with the ball," passing game coordinator and receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander said. Now weve got to make sure he can win his one-on-ones on third down in the red zone. Its no small task. Miles was a running back in high school, and the transition to receiver wasnt immediate upon his arrival at ASU. I still have my running back tendencies, Miles admitted. I get out of my breaks and I cross over. Coaches are on me all the time about doing that. Miles also noted a tendency to lean back that makes him slip sometimes and fail to get in and out of his breaks quickly. I have to remember to keep my nose over my toes and not take so many stutter steps, he said. Theres no questioning Miles speed -- his three returns in 2011 were ample proof. Head coach Todd Graham said the Sun Devils want Miles to hit home runs with regularity, noting that hes already done it several times during camp. Its that intermediate passing game that we really want to work the most on, Graham said. Thats where Miles needs the most work. The ball down the field is just a matter of running, Alexander said. When youre talking about the details of the intermediate passing game, more than anything, its the fundamentals you have to use in those routes. Alexander said Miles still needs to hone his body positioning, make sure his shoulders and eyes are in the right place and work on his balance by keeping his elbows in tight. Because of his athleticism it can be hard, Alexander said. Hes strong in his lower body, so he can go without his fundamentals and just use his strength to make up for some of those things he may not know or hasnt had to do. Were trying to get him lots of reps in small spaces and open spaces and make sure hes able to control his body with a lot more force going in and out of his cuts. The coaches also want Miles to make things easier on a trio of young and inexperienced quarterbacks who are vying for the starting job. I think hes really improved his route running, but thats something he needs to improve on every day because I think he had a long way to go, Graham said. With his background being a running back, I dont think he was real polished. Miles role on special teams wont change. Graham has stressed the importance of winning that battle every week. But his progress as a receiver will depend on more than his speed. Hell need good work and study habits, constant coaching, sound technique and desire. I made a lot of progress in the spring, Miles said. Im definitely ready for the challenge. I pretty much enjoy anything that gets the ball in my hands. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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