Wide Receiver

Louisiana State
New Head Coach Les Miles should thank Nick Saban, who eventually became one of the true, great SEC recruiters - if not the best ever - before taking a new job with the Dolphins. And the wide receiver position may represent his greatest achievement. This stockpile of five-star caliber athletes is a jaw-dropping six- and even seven-deep with very little (to no) drop-off in talent. No way can any conventional depth chart begin to list them all. First is senior Skyler Green, one of the nation's top punt returners from the 2003 national title team before injuries limited his role last campaign. Now, though, he is fully recovered. Dwayne Bowe (6-3, 213) is as physically dominant as it gets for receivers in the SEC, and is primed to become a star. Last season's leading receiver, Craig Davis, continued to have a great spring, while Early Doucet gives LSU a duel weapon in terms of catching and running. Xavier Carter is likely to become a permanent member of this group after his multiple eye-opening catches this spring. Finally, Amp Hill is now set to fulfill his young promise as torn knee ligaments have sidelined his career the last two seasons. We just named six players; four of them were Parade/SuperPrep all-Americans out of high school, while Doucet and Carter were each considered the #1 rated players at this position. And, as if that were not enough, throw in senior TE/HB David Jones, who managed to garner all-Conference honors last December. Did we mention Les Miles is an offensive guy at heart (as compared to the defensive approach at Saban's core)? Ouch, no one touches this group in terms of quality depth.

Ohio State
When in a two-receiver formation, the Buckeyes line up with two NC.net preseason all-Americans - Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn, Jr. Holmes has been limited this spring due to a hamstring injury, but in this system, his team leading 55 receptions are likely to be surpassed come fall. "Mr. Everything" Ted Ginn will line up either in the slot, at flanker, split end, single wing in the backfield, or, heck, even at cornerback on the other side of the ball. Ginn is so gifted that Coach Tressell has literally built this offense around what he can do. Tressell will use exotic formations to spread opponents out while playing hide-n-seek with defenders attempting to key on his prized receiver(s). Junior Roy Hall has more size than any other State WR, a plus for downfield blocking as well as end zone fades. When you factor in emerging deep-threat Anthony Gonzales (two TDs and 22.4 yds in the speedsters eight catches), you see a rather balanced corps. Look for the Buckeye's simpler aerial approach to really develop as these guys all hit the peaks of their college careers simultaneously during this campaign. A 60-40 run-pass ratio in '04 should move closer to 50-50. Even the ole Woody Hayes, with his "three yards and a cloud of dust" approach, could clearly see this writing on any High Street wall.

There's speed all over the place here, more than enough for this offense to spread defenses, setting them up for big plays. The three experienced burners who start will give (new starting) QB Brian Brohm one of the best groups of targets you'll find anywhere. Montrell Jones returns as the leading receiver and deep threat. The Tennessee-transfer isn't just fast - he's physical and can confidently go across the middle, as well. Kick return specialist Broderick Clark is another major deep threat (coming off the bench), while basketball player Joshua Tinch is a sure-handed guy who will get his share of catches on intermediate-run routes. Tinch has become Brohm's go-to receiver this spring after recording seven receptions in the spring game, three of which resulted in six (points). Wait, there's more. The biggest impact this spring has been 6-6, 220-pound Mario Urrutia, who has simply dazzled in the red-zone, where he's open quite frequently. We promise, Brian Brohm is going to become one of the nation's best before his time is done, and look for the WR stats and post-season awards to reap whatever Brohm's ability is able to sow. The nation's No. 9 pass offense won't skip a beat.

Next to LSU, this is as deep and veteran a receiving corps as there is in the SEC, and these four playmakers will keep the aerial assault clicking. Too bad QB Jason Campbell is not returning to guide this offense, which ultimately means newbie Brandon Cox likely won't offer these WRs as much of a chance to statistically reach their true worth. Junior Courtney Taylor went from consistent freshman to sophomore game-breaker, leading the Tigers in catches and yards. Taylor bulked up without sacrificing speed or leaping ability, making him a potent target who always holds on to the big catch (30 of his 38 recs. went for first down). Def. Coordinator David Gibbs said this spring that Taylor made DBs look like children trying to tackle him. A heralded trio of seniors (Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu and Anthony Mix) combined for 13 TDs, and each is capable of 20+ receptions and 500+ yard seasons. Aromashodu is the burner who stretches the defense. Obomanu's seven TDs tied him for the lead in the SEC (for receivers), while Mix's precise route running and 6'5" frame make him a valuable target underneath. Someone will always be open in these four-wide sets. Still, the group must maintain focus as Cox adjusts and their numbers dip slightly. We're also quite sure Auburn fans would not trade this unselfish group for anyone else's…and for good reason.

Oregon State
Questions at WR were more than answered in '04. First-team NC.net all-American standout Mike Hass heads a corps that's big (all at least 6'0"), deep, physical, and the clear strength of the offense. The former walk-on didn't just dominate the conference; he finished third in the nation in receptions (86) and ninth in yards (1379), despite his unassuming physique. Hass is not a burner, but may be the best route-runner in the country (averaged 23 per for his 44 catches in '03). The senior epitomizes the team's focus on acceleration and mechanics, and will again find ways to get open and therefore earn well-deserved Biletnikoff buzz. While Hass sets records, Marcel Love will show off his versatility in the slot. The JUCO-transfer adjusted quicker than expected, finishing third on the team in catches, TDs and yards, and should expect 50+ to soon come his way. Switching Anthony Wheat-Brown from FS to WR last fall gave the unit a leaper and a consistent threat at flanker. The spring's best surprise was Josh Hawkins and his one-handed grabs. His level of play has awarded him playing time with the first unit. If the Pac Ten is to be looked upon as a pass-happy conference, the Beaver's four- and five-receiver sets are tangible proof of this stereotype.

Just Missed: Arizona State, Miami FL, Michigan, UTEP


May 23- Wide Receivers
May 16 - Offensive Line
May 12 - Defensive Backs
May 4 - Linebackers
April 28 - Defensive Line

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