Now in his fifth and final season with the Gryphons, Ryan Nieuwesteeg is hoping to see even more time on the field than he has in the past.Nieuwesteeg, an OUA all-star kick returner each of the last two seasons, got a bit of a taste at receiver last season when he caught 10 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown during the regular season. He’s to see more time there this season.“I feel a lot more comfortable with the play book, which I feel is the biggest thing,” he said following Friday’s practice at Alumni Stadium. “You can only play as fast as your mind is going to let you play, it doesn’t matter how athletic you are or anything. That’s the one part I feel I improved the most and I feel it’s going to pay dividends on the field.”Although he’s been listed as a receiver on the Gryphon roster this season and last, the position is a new one for the 5-foot-8, 170-pound Nieuwesteeg. He was down as a running back his first season (2012) and a defensive back his next two. Now his learning curve as a receiver has reached the point where he’s not thinking about the route he’s supposed to run as much as he’s checking out the opposition’s defensive alignment.“Now I go out there and I’m looking at the defence,” he said. “What are they showing me? I’ve played a lot smarter, I feel, this camp.”However, time at receiver isn’t going to cut into his time returning kicks, especially punts.“I’m not losing that,” he said. “That’s still my job and I want to perform at that as well.”He was the OUA second-team returner last year after being the first-team returner and a second-team All-Canadian returner in 2014.“I feel returning’s a strange thing,” Nieuwesteeg said. “It comes down to how well your blocks have been and how well the systems are put in place and I feel coach (Bill) Brown and our special teams coaches do a great job of doing that.”Nieuwesteeg had 846 punt return yards last season, the second-highest single-season total in OUA history. It surpassed the 739 punt return yards he had in 2014, the third-highest total. He also returned two punts for touchdowns each of the last two seasons.“The blocking I have, to be honest, I attribute my returns mostly to that,” he said. “It’s so simple for me. I get a play call and I just have to run the way I’m going and if the blocks are there, I’m going to get yards. This year I just want to attribute any way I can, whether it’s returns, receiving. I just want to help my team win any way possible.”Nieuwesteeg’s return prowess earned him a selection in the eighth round of the CFL draft in May by the Toronto Argos. That meant he was on the Alumni Stadium turf in June at the Argos training camp there and he found it to be a huge learning experience.“You go and you pick up things from guys that have been around the game so long and professionals you’ve seen the work that they’ve put in,” he said. “You start to realize that the drop off between their skills and yours isn’t as big as you once thought it was. It just gives you that confidence.”Nieuwesteeg watched most of the first week of training camp from the sidelines nursing an injury, but was back on the field this week.“I was dealing with a little bit of a groin injury,” he said. “It’s the second year I’ve had to deal with that, but I’ve gotten my body right and I’m taking care of myself.”Training camp combined with the first week of getting ready for an actual OUA opponent has reached the point where the Gryphons are tired of hitting teammates. It’s time to get the season started.“It was a shortened camp, but it definitely felt long,” Nieuwesteeg said. “I think the coaches did a good job of limiting how much we were on the field and taking care of our bodies and giving us some down time at night. You can only watch so much film and go through so many meetings and stuff like that. It’s time to get on the field. It’s time to hit someone. It’s time to show teams in this league that we want to repeat last year and go even further than that.”The defending OUA Yates Cup champion Gryphons are to tangle with the Toronto Varsity Blues in their season and home opener Sunday at Alumni Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m.