2013 Spring Preview
Top Position Battles - WRs
key 2013 receiver situations
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Tennessee’s season might have stunk, but the passing game was fantastic and the receivers were dynamic. Unfortunately, Cordarrelle Patterson is taking his first round talents to the NFL a year early along with Justin Hunter after the two combined to average around 165 yards per game. Also gone is pass catching tight end Mychal Rivera, who as more than just a decent safety valve, and solid complementary receiver Zach Rogers. Throw in the loss of quarterback Tyler Bray, and there’s a wee bit of work to do for new head coach Butch Jones and receivers coach Zach Azzanni.
Junior Vincent Dallas is the team’s leading returning non-running back receiver, and he only came up with nine catches for 149 yards and a score with his biggest moment coming in the three grab day against South Carolina. Former running back Devrin Young is being asked to become a target, and junior Jacob Carter is back after catching eight passes for 126 yards and a score, but all the young Vol targets could be pushed aside by top recruit Marquez North, a 6-3, 210-pound speedster with NFL upside and tools.
It’s not just the loss of the wide receivers; it’s the absence of two NFL tight ends that’s going to really hurt. Zach Ertz was an All-America target who led the team with 69 catches for 898 yards and six scores, and 6-8 Levine Toilolo finished third on the team in receiving yards with 393 with four scores on 24 catches. As Tight End U., there isn’t a problem bringing in new star prospects with Greg Taboada, Austin Hooper and Eric Cotton three good ones, but this year it’ll a fight for playing time among several big, strong, athletic options who didn’t catch a pass last year and don’t have anywhere near the talent of Ertz and Toilolo.
Wide receiver is also a problem with second-leading receiver Drew Terrell gone along with Jamal-Rashad Patterson. Junior Ty Montgomery is the leading returning target after catching 26 passes for 213 yards, while Kelsey Young and Kodi Whitfield have to quickly grow into steady options for Kevin Hogan.
3. Texas A&M
If it wasn’t for Mr. Manziel, the offseason spotlight would be on sophomore receiver Mike Evans, who blew up with 82 catches for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns turning into one of the SEC’s new stars. Unfortunately, he’ll draw plenty of attention now from defensive coordinators with Ryan Swope, Kenric McNeal, Uzoma Nwachukwu and tight end Michael Lamothe gone. But don’t be too concerned, there’s more talent where that came from with 6-5, 220-pound Ricky Seals-Jones the No. 1 receiver recruit, and Laquvionte Gonzalez, Kyrion Parker, Sebastian LaRue and Jaquay Williams all phenomenal talents who’d be starting right away for several other schools. They’ll have to fight for time with LeKendrick Williams – who made the most of his five catches with 116 yards and two scores – and Malcome Kennedy, who’s expected to be one of the new top targets after catching 26 passes for 285 yards and two scores.
Last year the Bears had to replace Kendall Wright, but even without RGIII doing his thing, the passing game was still more than fine finishing fourth in the nation and sixth in efficiency helped by a monster 97-catch, 1,832-yard, 12 touchdown season from Terrance Williams and 52 grabs and six scores from Lanear Sampson. But the Art Briles offense is expected to keep on rolling, and it’s going to start in the receiving corps with Tevin Reese, who finished second on the team with 53 catches for 957 yards and nine touchdowns, while hoping for more from junior Levi Norwood, who finished fourth on the team with 40 grabs for 487 yards and a score. Now one of the hot schools to go to because of the great attack coming in is Robbie Rhodes, Scout.com’s No. 2 ranked receivers prospect, along with Kyle Folks and Quan Jones.
5. Virginia Tech
Who is Logan Thomas going to throw to? The inconsistencies in the passing game had something to do with the receivers, too, who weren’t quite explosive enough. Leading receiver Marcus Davis is gone after catching 51 passes for 953 yards and five scores, No. 2 target Corey Fuller is also done after leading the way with six touchdowns, and Dyrell Roberts is gone after finishing third with 33 catches for 398 yards and a touchdown. Randall Dunn didn’t make a ton of plays, but the tight end was good from short range catching 12 passes and three scores – he’s gone, too. Demetri Knowles is a good looking flanker who did a nice job with 19 catches for 240 yards and a score, and now he might be the No. 1 target unless it’s D.J. Coles, a big senior who’ll step in for Davis at split end
after working his way back from a knee injury. Deon Newsome, Carlis Parker and David Prince are part of a strong recruiting class, but they’re not expected to see time right away.
6. Michigan State
It’s not that the Spartans don’t have talent at receiver or experience, it’s whether or not they have anyone who can hang on to the ball after drop after drop after drop for the painfully inefficient passing attack. Senior Bennie Fowler returns after leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, and Keith Mumphery is back at the Z after leading the way with 42 catches. Tight end Dion Sims left early for the NFL, but in all, not almost all the top players are back with six of the eight most production receivers returning – Sims and Le’Veon Bell are the ones gone. Andrew Gleichert is a promising junior tight end and there are several players ready to do more, led by sophomore Aaron Burbridge at the F, but again, can any of them make plays and simply catch the ball? This could be the difference between a good year and a Big Ten championship.
It’s not just Ka’Deem Carey and the running game for the Rich Rodriguez offense that finished 23rd in the nation in passing averaging close to 300 yards per game. Junior Austin Hill is back as one of the Pac-12’s most dangerous targets, averaging 105 yards per game, but No. 2 target Dan Buckner is gone along with starter 6-4, 226-pound starter Terrence Miller and blocking tight ends Drew Robinson and Michael Cooper. Junior Tyler Slavin is poised for a bigger role after catching 22 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, and David Richards and Richard Morrison are dangerous targets who combined for 52 catches as complementary pieces of the puzzle. As long as everyone can take the heat off of Hill, everything will be fine.
8. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have a good passing game coming together with quarterback Tyler Russell coming into his own with a solid line and a good running game to help control the attack. Now he needs receivers to throw to so MSU can keep up in shootouts with the improving SEC offenses. Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith and Arceto Clark were the top three pass catchers, while tight end Marcus Green was fourth with 19catches for 215 yards and six touchdowns. All of them have to be replaced, and it starts with the diminutive Jameon Lewis, the 6-4 Joe Morrow and tight end Malcolm Johnson, who caught ten passes for 171 yards and two scores. The talent is in place, but now it’s about experience with these three forming the foundation.
Devin Gardner has all the tools and skills to become a Heisman-caliber playmaker, but it’s time for the receivers to start doing far more. Roy Roundtree is finally done after seeming like he was wearing Maize and Blue since Jim Harbaugh was under center, but Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo are steady targets who have to become explosive. Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson are veterans, and Jehu Chesson and Amarah Darboh – one of last year’s better recruits - are promising options, but again, it’s all about what this group to do to stretch the field a bit and take the heat off the ground game. Wide receiver wasn’t exactly ignored in the phenomenal recruiting class, but the new guys aren’t expected to be world-beaters like tight end Jake Butt, who might be the nation’s top prospect at the position, and last year’s star pickup, Devin Funchess, who should be the starter this fall.
Who will new head coach Scott Shafer have to work with for the passing game? Bombing quarterback Ryan Nassib is off to the NFL along with his excellent targets, Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales who combined for close to 11 catches per game. The two were consistent, explosive and dangerous; they’ll be sorely missed. Senior Jarrod West was a nice option on the inside, finishing third on the team with 43 catches for 588 yards and two scores, and tight end Beckett Wales was a solid midrange option with 35 grabs. Those two will be the foundation, while the pick thin Christopher Clark will be the speedster who’ll likely get the first look at the outside X spot.
key 2013 receiver situations