2005 Spring Football Preview: Wide Receivers

<b>Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of previews of Auburn's football team as the Tigers prepare for spring drills.</b>

Auburn, Ala.--With talented and experienced performers returning, the wide receiver positions have the potential to be a team strength for the 2005 Auburn football team.

Position coach Greg Knox has high expectations for his group that includes seniors Devin Aromashodu, Ben Obomanu and Anthony Mix. All three have significant playing time as well as starting experience as does junior Courtney Taylor.

Taylor led the Tigers in receiving with 43 catches for 737 yards and six touchdowns. Aromashodu made 24 catches for 513 yards and four touchdowns and was second on the team in receiving yards gained.

Courtney Taylor is expected to be one of the top wideouts in the SEC this season.

Obomanu led the Tigers in touchdown receptions with seven as he caught 25 balls for 359 yards. Mix had 19 catches for 294 yards and three scores.

The Tigers have to replace one senior, Silas Daniels, who caught nine passes for 169 yards and one TD.

"We have got four veterans coming back," Knox notes. "The one thing we will work on this spring is consistency. We will try to remain consistent in some of the things we are doing and get better in some of the techniques and fundament areas.

"At the X position we have Devin and Ben coming back on that side," Knox says. "I feel pretty good about that area. Devin had a good year for us. He made quite a few big plays for us down the field. Ben was a solid mid-range receiver. He also had a couple of big plays down the field.

"Inside, we have Anthony Mix and Lee Guess coming back," Knox says of the slot receiver spot. "That gives us a good combination of two different type of guys with Mix being a big, strong, physical receiver and Lee being a smaller guy who can work in the zone areas. Of course, outside we have Courtney returning at the Z spot. With these veterans coming back, we feel pretty good about our receiving corps."

Anthony Mix will be a big target for Auburn's quarterbacks this season.

Auburn had just one wide receiver signee in last year's class and speedy James Swinton was redshirted. Spring training, that begins on March 1st, will be his chance to show he is ready for playing time.

"He is going to get a good look," Knox says of Swinton. "This will be a big spring for James to show he can play at this level. We are going to give him every opportunity. He is a speed guy who is still learning the techniques and fundamentals of the position. He is a guy with the ability to get down the field and he has great hand-eye coordination. He can make catches. He is a guy we will take a good look at this spring. He is a good six foot, six-one maybe."

The Tigers also return a pair of walk-ons who have seen game action--Jamoga Ramsey and Maurice Anderson. Ramsey, a 5-10, 162 junior from Delray Beach, Fla., caught four passes for 61 yards and one touchdown last season. Anderson, a 6-3, 202-pounder from Mobile, caught one pass last season as a redshirt freshman and it went for a TD vs. Louisiana Tech.

"Jamoga and Maurice are two good solid players," Knox says. "They will be working at both of the outside positions. Those are two good kids who have played a little bit in certain situations in games. They have to keep working on their technique and fundamentals."

Devin Aromashodu had a breakout junior season for the Tigers.

A player who blossomed last season was Aromashodu, who caught just three passes as a sophomore.

"As we get into spring we will talk about goals and in the 15 days of spring practice they will start working toward goals and achieving them," Knox says. "I think last year in the spring Devin did set some goals and I think he came out with an attitude to be more successful. He gained a lot of confidence in the spring and it carried over to the fall.

"I think all of the receivers grew up last spring and fall," Knox adds. "They became a year older, more confident and more mature. In anything you play, basketball, football, baseball--you have to have confidence in yourself and that they do."

Mix, who considered trying his luck with pro football after his junior season, made a wise choice to return, Knox contends. "Anthony has got to become a smarter player," the coach says. "The smarter he becomes the better he will be. I think he can become a lot smarter in the classroom if he gets in there and studies tape. That is where he can become a better player."

Taylor is likely to receive consideration for preseason All-SEC honors as a junior. However, Knox says the talented wideout, who played quarterback in high school, is far from a finished product.

"Courtney still has a long way to go," Knox says. "People may say, ‘wow,' but Courtney is a guy who has only played receiver for two years. He didn't grow up doing that so he is still learning about the position. The more and more he practices, the better he gets. He is a guy who really has to spend a lot of time both in the classroom and on the field. He just gathers so much and learns so much by participating more and more."

Lee Guess will be looking to become a bigger part of the offense, especially if his former high school teammate, Brandon Cox, is the starter at quarterback.

Knox says that fans tell him that his receivers will be featured even more this season with star tailbacks Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown moving on to the NFL. "Everybody thinks that," Knox says. "Yes, it is a situation where we lost two good tailbacks and a lot of experience back there, but even this past season I think we played a big part of the offense.

"This season everybody sees the running backs are gone and they see all of the experience at the receiver spot and assume we may play a bigger part in the offense. It may be the case, but it may not be. The important thing for us is to stay consistent in our performance and that will carry over for the team."

Walk-on Jamoga Ramsey makes a catch for the Tigers.

The Tigers will practice for 15 days in March in preparation for the 2005 season, which features a Sept. 3rd opener vs. Georgia Tech. Auburn's annual spring football game is set for Saturday, March 19th at 1 p.m.

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