By BEN JOHNSON
Steffon Herd’s list of goals this summer doesn’t read like a novel. It’s actually pretty simple and abbreviated.
All he’s aiming for is: improving his football skills while multiplying his strength in the weight room. And fitting in enough hours at his two jobs to accumulate the right amount of money for a new to call home.
“I’m just working to get an apartment,” said the RiverHawks’ 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver.
When he’s not at NSU’s training facility at Doc Wadley Stadium, Herd is usually working at Sonic or Walmart in Tahlequah.
“I manage my time to where I’m at Walmart in the morning and go work out at 3,” Herd said. “Sometimes I get off for 6 p.m. workouts, but it just depends. I also try and workout on weekends, just to get some work in.”
Herd’s long hours in the weight room haven’t gone unnoticed. NSU head coach Kenny Evans has seen the results.
“He’s worked really hard,” Evans said of Herd, who redshirted in 2012 after signing out of Del City High School.
“He actually gained more strength, percentage-wise, than anyone else in the weight room. We’re hoping that will translate to the field.”
At 76 inches tall, Herd is one of the tallest wide receivers the RiverHawks have. However, Herd defers all height honors to teammate, Cruz Williams.
“I’m probably the second-biggest,” Herd said, “because Cruz is like 6-4 and a little bit bigger.”
Either way, that’s two plus-size targets for quarterback Johnny Deaton to work with.
“They’re both tall guys who have great verticals,” Evans said of Herd and Williams. “I think Steffon has an advantage because he’s worked in the system now for a while.”
Herd didn’t register any statistics for NSU during the 4-6 campaign last season. Instead, he spent his redshirt season picking up pointers from guys like Jermaine Sherman, Jahmai Coleman, Chucky Bryant and others.
“I learned so much,” Herd said. “I didn’t think being a receiver would be this hard, but it is. I learned the little stuff, like foot work, how to get separation from (a defender). I just learned so much.”
Evans will be looking for all those traits when the RiverHawks open the 2013 season at Pittsburg State on Sept. 7. In fact, Herd will be one of several freshmen that will be factored into NSU’s offensive equation once the season commences.
“We’re going to have to count on some young wide receivers this year — guys like Steffon and Tank (Richmond) and some other guys that we signed,” said Evans, who has seven freshmen listed at wide receiver heading into the RiverHawks’ second season in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
“We’ll have to see who steps up. The thing about Steffon is that he’s worked so hard on his body that he’s a step up on some of them.”
Downplaying his role slightly, Herd said he just wants to contribute in any way, shape or form.
“I just want the chance to show my talent and get the chance to go out there and have us win some ball games,” said Herd, who caught three passes for 39 yards in NSU’s spring game in April.
Leading the RiverHawks would be all well and good for Herd, but he’s not to concerned about his stat line, he said.
“I’m striving to be the best,” Herd said, “but we all work together as one. As a receiving corp, we meet up some nights and have a game night, so we’re just trying to work as one, really.”