2013 Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

We continue our look at the Auburn Tigers heading into spring practice with a preview of the wide receiver position.

Auburn, Ala.—While the quarterback situation will get much of the attention heading into spring practice on the offensive side of the ball for the Auburn Tigers, Coach Dameyune Craig will have a big challenge at the wide receiver positions with a lack of depth and proven talent currently on campus. Even though he hasn't seen them on the field yet, Craig has had the opportunity to watch the group in winter workouts and notes so far so good.

"Everything I have asked of these guys they have responded," Craig says. "That is what I am happy about, from the biggest things to the smallest things, so I am excited about that. It shows they are willing to work.

"They are showing trust in me, they are showing trust in Coach (Gus) Malzahn and they are showing trust in the system," Craig says. "I am excited about that. That is a good start. Once we get on the field we can find out who can play, but as far as what we have asked them to do off the field it has been all positive and I think that is important at this point."

Returning scholarship receivers Trovon Reed, Quan Bray, Jaylon Denson, Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis make up the entire group for Craig along with walk-ons Melvin Ray and B.J. Trimble.

Quan Bray

That's not many receivers with three and even four wide receiver spots to fill. While the numbers aren't what Craig would like to have, there is some talent work with even though much of it is unfulfilled to this point.

A junior, Reed has 30 career receptions for 286 yards and one touchdown while Bray has 31 catches for 187 yards, but is still looking for his first score. They are by far the two most experienced returning receivers for the Tigers with the rest of the group combining for just 10 career catches.

Six of those belong to the ultra-talented Coates. Physical and built for speed, Coates had two touchdown receptions in 2012 after redshirting his first season on the Plains because of an injury. Now one of the more experienced receivers on the roster, Coates should be a player who develops into a big-play threat for the Tigers.

Sammie Coates goes up high for a touchdown grab

Catching just three passes for 36 yards as a true freshman in 2012, Louis is another physical outside receiver with the speed to take it the distance. A former high school quarterback who is comfortable with the ball in his hands, Louis has the talent to make all the plays.

Joining Coates and Louis outside is Denson. The biggest of the three at 6-3, 211, Denson has good hands and should be a much better fit back in Malzahn's offense. Also available outside is Ray. A walk-on, he played mostly special teams last season after coming to Auburn following a minor league baseball career.

The wildcard for the group could be junior C.J. Uzomah. A receiver in 2011 as a freshman, Uzomah moved to tight end last season and caught seven passes for 136 yards and a touchdown before nagging injuries bothered him late in the year. At 6-4, 250, Uzomah could work at H-Back and also some in the slot at receiver for the Tigers and create a mismatch for the defense.

C.J. Uzomah could be an interesting player to watch if he gets a look at one of the receiver positions this spring.

As for how things will shake out on the field this spring, Craig says that remains to be seen, but one thing he knows is that the competition level will be very high. With the new staff continuing to come together in preparation for their first spring as a group, the former Auburn star quarterback notes things are coming together nicely.

"You want to create competition within the group," he says. "You have to challenge the kids in the classroom, too, making sure we are doing the right things off the field and that will carry over to on the field. I think they are in a competition right now to be the best they can be off the field and when we hit that field there is going to be some great competition with those kids, and that is what I want."

"You have to develop personal relationships with the kids and there has to be a trust factor," he adds. "There has to be a respect factor and they have to trust that what you are telling them is the right thing. I think we are building that as a staff and I think the kids are responding well to that. I think they are understanding what we expect."

Auburn opens spring practice March 27 with the A-Day Game set for April 20 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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