Jordan Villamin spotted the ball, jumped above Minnesota cornerback Zo Craighton and made the grab before crashing to the Reser Stadium turf.

It was the type of play that Villamin, a senior receiver for the Oregon State football team, has been working on for the past several months.

At 6-foot-5, Villamin knows his size is an advantage — it's just a matter of using it during games.

"It was one of my goals and (quarterback) Jake (Luton) challenged me during the game. He's like, 'I want a couple of those jump balls caught from you today,'" Villamin said.

"So I just tried to go out there and tried to help the quarterback make plays because I know he's getting pressured all day. So when he had the chance to get the ball out, I wanted to make sure I caught the ball so he doesn't have to get hit for no reason."

The play of receivers Villamin and Isaiah Hodgins has been a positive in a season that has too often been full of negatives for Oregon State through the first three games.

Villamin prepared throughout the offseason to go out with a big year after having a spotty junior season.

Hodgins, a freshman, arrived in the spring and worked his way into the lineup.

After tight end Noah Togiai, they have been two of Luton's top targets.

Hodgins is second on the team with 13 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown; Villamin is third with 10 receptions for 132 yards and a score.

Timmy Hernandez, Trevon Bradford and Xavier Hawkins all have three catches, and the group should get a boost when Seth Collins is able to return.

Receivers coach Jason Phillips has been pleased with his players.

"We're a work in progress," Phillips said. "Yes, there are some bright spots, and I don't think there is any negatives because I think they come into work every day to get better. They come to meeting every day to get better. And if they continue to do that, then they will get past some of the things that may be perceived as negative.

"But to me it's all positive because those guys come with the right attitude every day and the right mentality in order to improve themselves and to help this team improve as well. As long as they continue to do that, there will be brighter spots down the road for them."

Both Villamin and Hogdins are happy with the early results, but know they have to keep striving to get better.

Villamin has nine more games to hone his craft at the college level.

"There's always stuff to work on, I can always get better at everything," Villamin said. "But other than that, I just feel like I've improved a lot since last year and I just want to keep improving and keep moving forward."

As far as using his size to get the ball, Villamin has been doing just fine.

He said those passes are successful when he has a connection with the quarterback.

"You practice them a little bit but it's all about timing," he said. "It's hard to replicate that same play in practice because the defense is not going to play as hard as somebody out there will, or vice versa sometimes.

"It's all about the timing, having a feel with the quarterback and just making a play when your number's called."

Hodgins said he needs to improve at getting in and out of his breaks and his speed on and off the line of scrimmage as well as getting off of jams.

"I've just got to work on everything," Hodgins said. "I've been working every day with coach Phillips and I just have to continue to play fast and play physical every play and just attack the DBs and just be a big, aggressive wide receiver."

It's the kind of approach that has allowed Hodgins to thrive in his first season and Villamin in his last.

"We have high standards for ourselves, so every week we try to reach those standards," Hodgins said.


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