Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Look Ahead- Wide Receiver

This is the one unit on offense that is a question mark. Of course for this year it can only be so much of a question mark with All-American Tyler Boyd in the group. The junior has over 1,000 yards receiving in his first two years and with new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney expected to throw a little more this should be his best year yet.

It would be great if Boyd stayed all four years but that seems doubtful since he should be a high draft choice and most wide receivers that are high draft choices leave early for the NFL. Of course if he does stay then this unit should only get better. If he doesn't then the Panthers better find some other options this year because as of now there's a huge drop off after Boyd.

Whoever stars opposite Boyd this season is anybody's guess. Two prime candidates- Adonis Jennings and Ronald Jones- decided to leave the program. Redshirt junior Dontez Ford has good size at 6'2" and 205 pounds but he had a grand total of 3 catches last year. That probably makes him the early favorite because that's more than anybody else has done. Zach Challingsworth, a 6'2" 190 redshirt sophomore, has no career catches. Former walk-on Chris Wuestner, a 6'2" 205 pound redshirt junior, has one career catch. Jester Weah, a 6'3" 205 pound redshirt junior, is probably the fastest player on the team but he has no catches. Elijah Zeise may be the most talented of the group, outside of Boyd, and the 6'2" 195 pound redshirt freshman can hopefully make his presence felt this year in his first action of his career.

That's really not an impressive unit on paper. Help should be on the way, though, with incoming freshman Quadree Henderson. Because of his 5'8" 175 pound size he will have to play only in the slot, but he has great speed and elusiveness. Panthers fans can only hope that he has some Tavon Austin qualities and that he shows them right away. That's definitely possible. And it also may be crucial. Two other incoming freshmen- 6'1" 195 pound Gentry Ivery and 6'0" 170 pound Tre Tipton- would usually be redshirt candidates, but both or either may have a chance to contribute since the depth is suspect. Both are highly under recruited but they appear to be real sleepers. A wildcard could be redshirt freshman Jaquan Davidson, who wanted to be moved to quarterback, and doesn't seem especially happy. But if he moves back to receiver, which is his best position, then he could help both himself and the team because he's athletic and speedy at 6'3" and 180 pounds.

The best case scenario, realistically, is that Henderson hits the ground running in the slot, and a starter is found opposite of Boyd. That's a lot of questions that need to be answered but Chaney is a talented offensive coordinator and Kevin Sherman is a veteran, accomplished wide receivers coach. They will be tested this year, but players often make a big jump under new coaching, and that's what the Panthers are hoping for..

Bottom line: The passing game suffered last season because Boyd was the only receiver. If he's the only receiver this year then it will suffer again. As for recruiting, I expect at least three receivers coming in the '16 class and the staff is already showing interest in a lot of big time receivers.


Talent

Excellent
Very Good
Good
AVERAGE
Poor


Depth

Excellent
Very Good
Good
Average
POOR

2 comments:

  1. Jaquan Davidson --- 6'2" +, and he's had an entire year 'on-the-mealplan', and 'hitting the weights' and conditioning.

    He was a wildcat / option QB in High School as well as a basketball player --- it's just hard not to see him and hope he can be a quick, agile, rangy (tall!) WR with soft hands as BBall player.

    I think the biggest barometer of how good this WR group ends up (aside from Boyd, who could be a star with a Juggs-machine at QB lol) --- will be Chad Voytik's growth --- and I'm really assuming that he'll make tangible strides this offseason.

    If he's pushing himself and he's turning on some light bulbs (I watched every post-game + player interview anyone put out last year and I felt a lack-of-urgency from him, especially after really-bad losses), hopefully Voytik will find a way to get the ball to whoever is playing.

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  2. I suspect the new WR coach is going to be surprised by the physical talent of the WR group - in spite of the fact that they haven't caught passes yet. I know that sounds crazy but these guys have good size and speed.

    A guy like Challingsworth was very young as a freshman and could be ready to go this season. Zeise is another guy who could step up. If the new coach could get Weah to learn to adjust better to the ball, he could be a big threat - but that's asking a lot if he just doesn't have the WR instincts.

    We need to get these guys into some games and give them some opportunities - one or two of them will make plays (besides Tyler B.).

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