Player Profiles & Fall Predictions: WR's

The wide receiver group is the deepest it has been in years, and thanks to a slew of newcomers the talent level of this unit has dramatically improved over last season. Here's is a comprehensive view of ASU's wide receivers.

The wide receiver group is the deepest it has been in years, and thanks to a slew of newcomers the talent level of this unit has dramatically improved over last season. Here's is a comprehensive view of ASU's wide receivers.

Name: Kevin Anderson

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-1/185

Hometown/School: Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Three-year varsity contributor and was rated the No. 117 wide receiver in the nation by…was a star on a very talented Lakewood team…totaled 115 receptions for 1,922 yards and 29 touchdowns during his career including 45 catches for 836 yards (18.6 avg.) and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2009…runs a 4.43 40-yard dash…chose ASU over offers from BYU, LSU, Washington and Washington State.

Strengths: Solid hands; Can create yards after the catch; Experienced contributor at a high-quality high school program.

Weaknesses: Needs to improve fundamentals; Would benefit by adding size to his frame.

Fall Camp Outlook: As is the case with many of ASU's underclass receivers, the tremendous quantity of scholarship players may create a logjam that will make scaling the depth chart a difficult task for Anderson in his first month of practice at ASU.

Burning Question: Will Anderson emerge as a potential first-year contributor or redshirt?

2010 Predictions: In all likelihood, Anderson will begin fall camp near the bottom end of the scholarship depth chart at wide receiver. Though he is a talented player and has the makings of a contributor in the next year or two, he is likely to spend 2010 redshirting on the scout team.

Name: George Bell

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-3/198

Hometown/School: San Diego, Calif./San Diego Senior HS/Southwestern CC Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

Previous School Résumé: Was one of the nation's premier junior college wide receivers while at Southwestern…totaled 134 receptions for 2,068 yards and 17 touchdown catches during his two seasons ranking him second in school history in all three categories…Runs a 4.42 40-yard dash…earned a four-star rating from…chose ASU over Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska and Utah, among others.

Strengths: Capable of being a consistent, dynamic playmaker; Excellent height and deep speed for the vertical passing game; Highly qualified and seasoned junior college transfer; Was able to get a head start on learning the offense as a participant in spring drills.

Weaknesses: No FBS college experience

Fall Camp Outlook: After an excellent spring, Bell quickly proved that he is a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10 Conference and is a viable candidate to start in his first year at ASU. A deep threat with solid height, he brings a seemingly roofless potential and figures to be one of the more exciting players to watch on offense this year. When fall camp begins, he will be among ASU's top two or three receivers and barring injury or unexpected poor play, he will be in the starting lineup to begin the season.

Burning Question: Will Bell be able to play up to the expectations that have been set after a very solid spring?

2010 Predictions: Potentially the player most likely to make the quickest impact among those ASU signed in February, if his spring performance proves to be a true testament to his talents, Bell is everything that he was thought to be after a sensational junior college career—perhaps even better. His presence gives a big-play, deep-field option to complement some of the intermediate options such as Gerell Robinson and Aaron Pflugrad and if he is able to play his role effectively it would add a tremendous amount of momentum to ASU's offensive developments. In terms of season expectations, it is not out of the realm of decency to predict that Bell will finish among ASU's leaders in receiving statistics as he is expected to hit the ground running and be a focal point from day one.

Name: Jarrid Bryant

Year: Redshirt freshman

Height/Weight: 6-5/180

Hometown/School: Salisbury, Conn./Salisbury Prep Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Began his high school career at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School alongside several current Sun Devils but relocated to Connecticut to conclude his prep tenure…caught 10 passes for 140 yards with two touchdowns in a run-heavy offense as a senior…a stellar returns specialist at the high school level, he totaled eight punt and kick return scores as a senior…was pursued by Boston College, California and Kansas before signing with ASU.

Strengths: Excellent height; Very athletic; Quick for his size; Able to make difficult catches; Able to out-jump defenders; Capable to create an impact on special teams.

Weaknesses: Still technically raw; Very lean; Lacks substantial experience; Still in developmental stages.

Fall Camp Outlook: Barring injury, the top five wide receivers—alphabetically; George Bell, Aaron Pflugrad, Gerell Robinson, T.J. Simpson and Kerry Taylor—seem to be in place, while incoming junior college transfer Mike Willie has the tools to contribute quickly as well. Beyond those six, sixth-year senior Brandon Smith (if healthy) and sophomore A.J. Pickens return in addition to redshirt freshman J.J. Holliday while three true freshmen will jump into the mix. On top of this pile is sophomore Jamal Miles, an all-purpose player that may be shifted around between running back and wide receiver.

The end result of this equation is that Bryant likely hovers somewhere in the bottom end of the three-deep at wide receiver and the competition will remain still to remain in that position. He certainly will begin camp ahead of most newcomers but will need to use his advantageous size and athleticism and further develop his technical skills to be a viable playing option.

Burning Question: Has Bryant developed enough technically to earn playing time as a redshirt freshman or will he have a second tour of duty on the scout team?

2010 Predictions: Bryant's height and innate athleticism are comparable to—if not better than—any wide receiver on the roster, but the main question is his technical development at the position. With upperclassmen stockpiled atop the two-deeps at each receiver position, Bryant will need to assert himself in fall camp to emerge into the equation for playing time. Ultimately, it would not be shocking to see him kept out of game action this season in favor of spending an additional year on the scout team to develop, but if he is able to grow while using his strengths his likely spot is near the bottom end of the eligible "Z" receiver chart.

Name: J.J. Holliday

Year: Redshirt freshman

Height/Weight: 6-0/170

Hometown/School: Tucson, Ariz./Santa Rita HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: One of Arizona's most productive wide receivers during his high school career…rated by as the No. 186 wide receiver in the country…earned All-Arizona and First-Team All-4A honors as a senior…caught 55 passes for 1,100 yards (20.0 avg.) and 13 touchdowns as a senior…hauled in 54 passes for 1,251 yards (23.2 avg.) with 17 scores as a junior…runs a 4.41 40-yard dash…chose ASU over reported offers from Air Force, Colorado State, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming…is the first Tucson native to sign a National Letter of Intent with ASU since offensive lineman Stephen Berg in 2002.

Strengths: Reliable hands; Great straight-line speed; Disciplined receiver.

Weaknesses: Very slight frame; Limited experience against top competition.

Fall Camp Outlook: With T.J. Simpson returning from injury, junior college transfer Mike Willie acclimating to FBS football and a host of underclassmen new to college football, Holliday likely will have a small window of opportunity to emerge higher than generally expected in the depth chart when fall camp begins. Though it would be surprising for him to crack the two-deep, if Holliday can continue the consistency he showed in the spring he should be in line to see field action as a redshirt freshman

Burning Question: Can Holliday compete consistently enough to earn much playing time this year?

2010 Predictions: In the spring, Holliday showed that he has the skill set to be a consistent reserve receiver. With a bounty of upperclassmen filling the depth ahead of him, his role likely will be limited as a redshirt freshman but as the current juniors and seniors process out of the system over the next two years, Holliday could emerge into a greater role as his career progresses. In 2010, his activity likely will be limited but it is very probable that he will see some sort of field time, whether on special teams or at wide receiver.

Name: Randy Knust

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-3/200

Hometown/School: The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Ranked by as the No. 130 wide receiver in the country…caught 33 passes for 806 yards (24.4 avg.) with 11 touchdowns as a senior…totaled 15 receptions for 455 yards (30.3 avg.) as a junior with three touchdown receptions…runs a 4.41 40-yard dash…chose ASU over an offer from SMU.

Strengths: Good size; Playmaking abilities; Solid physical skill set.

Weaknesses: No college experience; Was not widely recruited and likely faces a developmental need to be prepared for the college level.

Fall Camp Outlook: Entering his first camp at ASU, Knust likely will begin play at a similar level as the majority of ASU's underclass receivers as he will be among the bottom end of the wide receiver depth chart.

Burning Question: Can Knust perform at a level that will enable him to avoid redshirting in 2010?

2010 Predictions: Knust is an intriguing prospect that could, over his years at ASU, develop into a solid receiver. He boasts above-average size and maximized all his opportunities at high school with a very high yards-per-catch average and touchdown-to-reception ratio. In terms of his first year at the college level, it is most likely that Knust will join the majority of his classmates as a scout team redshirt.

Name: Kyle Middlebrooks

Year: Freshman

Height/Weight: 5-9/176

Hometown/School: Fountain Valley, Calif./Fountain Valley HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Listed as the No. 105 running back prospect in the country by 3,063 rushing yards on 362 carries (8.5 avg.) with 42 touchdowns as well as 41 receptions for 556 yards (13.6 avg.) with five touchdowns during his three-year varsity career...led Fountain Valley in rushing all three seasons...rushed for 1,347 yards on 157 carries (8.6 avg.) with 20 touchdowns as a senior and also caught 22 passes for 316 yards (14.4 avg.) with four touchdowns...finished fourth in the state of California running a 10.5 100-meter

Strengths: May be the fastest player on the ASU roster; Very shifty and quick; Has experience at running back; Dangerous in the open field; Has experience in a pass-catching role.

Weaknesses: The smallest scholarship player on the ASU roster; Will be one of the smallest players on the field at all times; May face a challenging learning curve to acclimate to ASU's offense.

Fall Camp Outlook: Middlebrooks is a player that could feasibly catch the public's eye in quick fashion—no pun intended—as his agility and speed can match or surpass any member of the Sun Devil roster. However, his lack of size and newness to the college game could impact his overall success so Middlebrooks will need to not simply rely on his speed to be his sole bread-and-butter this fall.

Burning Question: Will Middlebrooks see game action this fall?

2010 Predictions: Other than running back Deantre Lewis and defensive end Nduka Onyeali, Middlebrooks has typically been the third name mentioned as plausible true freshmen that may see immediate action in 2010. His straight-line speed is undeniable and he can be a nightmare if given a small pocket of field to work with. Due to the fact that he was used in a pass-catching role at the high school level decreases some of his learning curve. He is cut from nearly the exact mold of sophomore Jamal Miles and the two will look to impact the Sun Devil offense in similar ways. The chances are good that Middlebrooks will see immediate action, though it is not a guarantee and he will have to prove that his immense speed can offset his collegiate inexperience.

Name: Aaron Pflugrad

Year: Redshirt junior

Height/Weight: 5-10/180

Hometown/School: Missoula, Mont./Eugene (Ore.) Sheldon HS/University of Oregon Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

Previous School Résumé: Caught 23 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown in 23 games over two years (2007-08) as an Oregon Duck…also returned punts and kickoffs…was rated a two-star prospect as a high school senior in 2006…earned first-team all-state honors after catching 59 passes for 869 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior….initially chose Oregon over FBS offers from ASU, Idaho and Oregon State…transferred to ASU last July and also considered Boise State and Washington State at that time.

Strengths: Consistent route runner; Very reliable hands; Quick and speedy; Has experience playing for one of the nation's top offenses; Earned ample special teams reps at Oregon; Submitted many excellent efforts in practice since arriving at ASU.

Weaknesses: Very undersized for the position; His aggressiveness may cause him to absorb more punishment than he can take; Was never a featured receiver at Oregon but will be expected to play such a role at ASU.

Fall Camp Outlook: One of the most consistent receivers both in practice last fall and throughout the entire spring, Pflugrad is expected to hover around the starting lineup in fall camp and be a main contributor this season. He brings an accountable, well-rounded skill set that few of ASU's receivers have and though his size is less than what's typically desired out of an offense's focal point, Pflugrad needs very little space to make a big impact in the passing game.

Burning Question: Will Pflugrad be able to perform as well in games as he has in practice and be one of ASU's go-to receivers?

2010 Predictions: The most logical prediction is that when ASU uses four-receiver sets, the primary lineup will include Pflugrad, George Bell, Gerell Robinson and Kerry Taylor. Quick and highly reliable, Pflugrad's game is reminiscent of a combination of parts of ASU's two stars from last year, Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams. Pflugrad's decision to leave Oregon in favor of ASU may prove to be one of the most significant intra-FBS transfers that the Sun Devils have had in recent years—perhaps helping put the rest the disappointment of acquisitions such as Dane Guthrie, Loren Howard and Tranell Morant. Additionally, Pflugrad, a seasoned return specialist from his time in Eugene, likely will impact ASU's special teams and could be one of the team's bigger workhorses in 2010.

Name: A.J. Pickens

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 5-10/172

Hometown/School: Chino, Calif./Don Lugo HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Rated as a three-star prospect by and the No. 113 wide receiver recruit in the country as a senior in the Class of 2008…

Strengths: Quick and agile; Able to participate on special teams; An all-purpose contributor that can carry or receive the ball.

Weaknesses: Unreliable in the passing game; Buried on the depth chart; Has not performed at a high level since arriving at ASU; Faces a grave challenge to outperform those ahead of him on offense; Hasn't been able to make a mark on special teams.

Fall Camp Outlook: The outlook for Pickens is very spotty—he wasn't able to assert himself and earn much action last year and with players such as Aaron Pflugrad, Jamal Miles and potentially Kyle Middlebrooks expected to serve a similar role as Pickens in terms of position on the field, the opportunities will be few and far between. In terms of scholarship receivers, Pickens seems to be some what of an "odd man out" in that he is advancing through his eligibility but seemingly distancing himself from the playing rotation.

Burning Question: Will Pickens be a factor in 2010?

2010 Predictions: With the aforementioned smaller speedsters likely to see action ahead of him both at receiver and on special teams, it is difficult to predict that Pickens has any sort of role awaiting him in 2010. The competition at wide receiver is fierce and unfortunately for him, he's not quicker or faster than Miles or Middlebrooks and is nowhere near as reliable a receiver as Pflugrad. It may take a Herculean effort for him to earn any sort of time as in addition to Pflugrad, Miles and Middlebrooks, ASU welcomes two junior college transfers and redshirt freshman J.J. Holliday has surpassed Pickens on the overall wide receiver depth chart.

Name: Gerell Robinson

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-4/223

Hometown/School: Phoenix, Ariz./Hamilton HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Was considered by many to be the top recruit in the state of Arizona as a senior…rated by as a four star recruit and the No. 78 overall prospect in the nation…also ranked as the No. 14 wide receiver prospect…played quarterback, wide receiver and safety at the high school level…earned multiple All-America honors and participated in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Game…was an all-purpose threat passing, running and receiving the ball as a senior…helped lead Hamilton to a state championship as a junior…was joined on the Hamilton squad by many athletes that would go on to attend ASU…also attended Desert Vista and Marcos de Niza High Schools…de-committed from Arizona to attend ASU and ultimately chose the Sun Devils over Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Oregon, but added offers from schools such as Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, UCLA and USC.

Strengths: Excellent frame; Can be challenging to bring down; Long arms and can shield defenders from passes; Is statistically ASU's top returning receiver from last year; Reportedly has shed some weight in the offseason and is more lean and athletic than he has been since his college career began.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent hands; Has yet to live up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment; Average speed; Not a weapon in the end zone—has yet to score a touchdown at ASU; Seems to get frustrated easily.

Fall Camp Outlook: Though Robinson's productivity last year certainly was a step up from his true freshman season, he still has work to do in order to materialize into the mismatch threat that he was expected to be coming out of Hamilton High School. His performance this spring provided some encouragement and he still is in the position to remain a starter and earn the opportunities to maximize his potential. When camp begins, he'll be near the very top of the receivers depth chart but the main element to observe is whether he will separate himself from the pack as a top-level threat or simply be a decent, serviceable player.

Burning Question: Will Robinson's offseason adjustments enable him to be more than an average receiver?

2010 Predictions: With his career essentially at a crossroad, Robinson needs to assert himself in a fashion that will allow him to become a threatening figure in ASU's passing game. Physically, he has the makeup to be a mismatch waiting to happen but the main challenge is for him to provide the necessary focus, concentration and discipline to best utilize his tools. If he repeats his contributions from last season, he likely will remain in or near the starting lineup but won't draw rave reviews. However, if he is able to make the necessary modifications he can emerge into a higher-output playmaker and begin to obtain the sense of vindication that his career thus far has failed to provide.

Name: T.J. Simpson

Year: Redshirt junior

Height/Weight: 6-1/189

Hometown/School: Peoria, Ariz./Peoria HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Rated as a three-star prospect by…earned second-team All-5A as a senior…caught 74 passes for 1,621 yards and 16 touchdowns during his final two seasons at Peoria High…also lettered in track and basketball…won multiple state titles in track…chose ASU over offers from Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, UTEP, Washington State and Wyoming.

Strengths: One of the team's best deep threats; Emerged into a consistent big-play threat; Has good height and excellent speed; Reliable hands; Is a factor in trick plays and end-around run plays.

Weaknesses: Coming of an injury that concluded his 2009 season early; Was unable to participate in spring drills

Fall Camp Outlook: Unfortunately for Simpson, just as he was coming on as one of ASU's most effective receivers last season he was shelved for the conclusion of the season and was ultimately held out of spring drills. Despite the injury, his play last year likely cemented his spot in the rotation and when camp opens he figures to be a top contender for action at wide receiver.

Burning Question: How did Simpson's injury stunt his development this offseason?

2010 Predictions: Athletically gifted to a high degree, Simpson is a dynamic playmaker and worked his way to the top of Coach Erickson's list of favorite players last season. If he can remain healthy, Simpson figures to see frequent field time and brings a top-notch deep threat to the lineup that will help ASU effectively stretch the field.

Name: Brandon Smith

Year: Sixth-year senior

Height/Weight: 6-2/202

Hometown/School: Bakersfield, Calif./West HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Was ranked as a three-star recruit and the No. 60 wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2005…caught 41 passes for 700 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2004…also had two special teams return touchdowns that year…chose ASU over offers from Arizona, Boise State, San Diego State, and Washington.

Strengths: Solid size; Potential for top-level speed and athleticism; Big play abilities.

Weaknesses: Tremendously limited due to a variety of injuries; has only played in one game since the end of the 2006 season.

Fall Camp Outlook: Smith missed the majority of the spring due to an injury—an unfortunate recurring theme that has plagued him for over five years at ASU. Entering the fall, though he has a sixth year of eligibility it would be a big surprise for him to be a significant factor.

Burning Question: Will Smith see the field in his final season at ASU?

2010 Predictions: Even if healthy, Smith is unlikely to compete with the likes of the five or six players that are ahead of him on the depth chart. In terms of talent, he has always had plenty to spare but his body has failed him on multiple occasions. It would be a feel-good story for his dedication to pay off and for him to contribute this year, but the chances of that seem very slim.

Name: Kerry Taylor

Year: Senior

Height/Weight: 6-0/197

Hometown/School: Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton HS Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

High School Résumé: Was unanimously rated as the top wide receiver prospect in the state of Arizona among the Class of 2007…helped lead Hamilton to the state championship as a senior…caught 40 passes for 760 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2006…was rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 45 wide receiver prospect in the nation by…chose ASU over offers from California, Oregon State and Washington State.

Strengths: Can make amazing receptions; Has pro potential if he plays to his capabilities; Good awareness in his route running; ASU's most experienced offensive player.

Weaknesses: Has been inconsistent; Went from a budding All-Pac-10 caliber player to potentially out of the starting lineup; Doesn't have amazing speed.

Fall Camp Outlook: Entering fall camp, Taylor—in what should be considered a surprise figuring he is a senior and ASU's most experienced offensive player—has not distanced himself from the other primary receivers and not only is it uncertain whether he will live up to his high potential, he may not even be routinely in the starting lineup in 2010. Though he certainly is capable of stealing the show at wide receiver, he will need a severe sense of urgency to stake claim to what should be his; the top dog spot at receiver for the Sun Devils.

Burning Question: Will Taylor maximize his potential in his final season at ASU?

2010 Predictions: As obvious as it is, it's now or never for Taylor, a player who has had many highlight reel moves in practice and some in games but hasn't strung together a full season of consistent play since he began his career as a true freshman on the field in 2007. In Taylor's favor is ASU's new offensive scheme which figures to provide ample opportunities for him to succeed. There's no question about his talent, he just needs to corral all his abilities into a 12-game season.

Name: Mike Willie

Year: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-4/215

Hometown/School: Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson Classical HS/Cerritos College Bio Page

Official ASU Bio Page

Previous School Résumé: Rated as a three-star prospect by…totaled 79 receptions for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns in 22 games at Cerritos…earned second-team all-conference honors…led Cerritos in receptions and receiving yards as a sophomore…was a teammate of ASU cornerback LeQuan Lewis at Cerritos in 2008…totaled nearly 1,600 receiving yards during his three-year varsity career at Woodrow Wilson High…chose ASU over offers from Arizona, San Diego State and Washington.

Strengths: Very physical; Willing blocker; More than adequate speed to go with his frame; Determined and aggressive.

Weaknesses: Did not put up sensational numbers at Cerritos; Will have to acclimate quickly to ASU's offense among a deep roster at receiver.

Fall Camp Outlook: Though he was not eligible to enroll at ASU in January to participate in spring drills, Willie expects to assimilate in a speedy fashion thanks to his combination of size, athleticism and physicality. Proclaimed to be a willing blocker and tough receiver, the coaching staff has recently raved about Willie and he is expected to see substantial time this fall as one of the primary reserves at wide receiver.

Burning Question: What role will Willie play in the offense this season?

2010 Predictions: Willie will undoubtedly be a contributor in his first of two years at ASU, but his performance in fall camp will dictate the time he will receive. Though his statistics at the junior college level were not as glamorous as, say, new teammate George Bell, Willie is a consistent, aggressive player that may be a surprise factor in 2010. If nothing else, his work ethic and attitude will keep him in the lineup but the early indication is that the staff has really taken to his style and potential, so expect Willie to earn the opportunity to be a factor in the passing game sooner rather than later.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories