Fall Practice Preview: Wide Receivers

Gone are Austin Collie and Michael Reed, but that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare at wideout for this coming season. A lot of intriguing options will be competing for spots this coming fall practice session. It's a very young group overall, but one with a lot of talent and potential.

Offensive coordinator Robert Anae has varied his wide receiver rotations on almost a year-to-year basis largely based on the collective talent level and individual strengths of those playing the ZR and XR positions. How Anae will set up his wide receiver rotations this coming season remains in question.

During the 2005 and 2006 seasons Anae used four-man rotations that were virtually equal with regards to how those reps were divvied up among the four rotating players. During 2007 the rotation went down to three with Matt Allen, Austin Collie and Michael Reed sharing the reps on a fairly equal basis. Last season it was just Collie and Reed getting the bulk of the reps at their respective ZR and XR positions.

So how will Anae choose to replace Collie at ZR and Reed at XR? Will he use one at each position, or will he use two? TBS will be watching intently in order to answer these questions during the upcoming fall practice session.

Replacing Collie

During this past spring session it was Luke Ashworth (6-2, 201 Jr.) that saw the majority of reps at ZR with the first-team offense. Ashworth has a lot of the same athletic qualities and build that made Collie the best receiver BYU has ever had, which should make fans optimistic regarding his potential.

Ashworth had a good spring. While he stood out during some practice sessions, he's yet to show the great consistency Collie did with just about every practice session. Regardless, Ashworth's upside is high and he'll provide a good and ready option at the ZR position.

McKay Jacobson (5-11, 192 So.) is similar to Collie in that they both had the two best true-freshman performances that any Cougar wideout has put together in recent history. Jacobson came to BYU with impeccable prep credentials and did nothing to disappoint during his first year prior to his mission.

Jacobson is back and will make a serious bid to see most of the reps at the ZR position. He missed most of spring while nursing a leg injury, but has regained his form this offseason and will certainly be vying for a big role within the Cougar offense this coming fall practice session.

While there are other options, it's Ashworth and Jacobson that look to be the primary candidates to replace Collie until further notice.

Replacing Reed

It was O'Neill Chambers (6-2, 209 So.) that saw just about every rep to be had while playing XR with the ones this past spring. Chambers completed a very productive spring by just doing what he was supposed to, providing a ready and consistent option to Hall on his left side.

Chambers hauled in touchdown passes during most spring practice sessions and has the goods to be at least as productive as Reed was playing at XR. Chambers has also proven to be a very good blocker, which will serve the Cougar ground game well.

Tyler Kozlowski (5-9, 188 Jr.) is the next option out of spring to man the XR position. Kozlowski likely won't wow someone with his play, but he has proven through practice to know the position well and is able to put forth consistent play at either wideout position.

B.J. Peterson (6-3, 202 Jr.) had a very good spring, as has been his practice since he entered the program. Peterson's advantage is his size and his good hands. While he isn't the first name one would think of as an option at either wideout position, he'll add very good depth at the very least.

Young Guns

Two of the more exciting prospects that competed during spring were Stephen Covey (5-11, 198 So.)...

...and Rhen Brown (5-10, 187 Fr.).

Both players have exceptional straight-ahead speed and are going through the rigors of playing a position that is somewhat new to both of them following their missions. What progress both of them make this fall and what contributions they can make to the team will certainly be worth noting.

Another intriguing young gun is Spencer Hafoka (6-0, 183 So.). Hafoka was poised to make a run at one of the starting spots before going down with severe influenza. He showed very well this past fall, and now that he's fully healthy once again he could very well be making a run at a rotation slot at either wideout position.

Matt Marshall (5-10, 183 So.)...

...and Matthew Edwards (6-3, 196 So.)...

...are two others that will add quality depth to the wide receiver positions.

Incoming Freshmen

A trio of very promising freshmen are set to compete for playing time this fall. All three are strong in stature and will bring a lot of intrigue to the wide receiver position.

Brett Thompson (6-3, 210) is readily mentioned as someone who could make an immediate impact as a true freshman. Thompson is coming off a great prep career and has a very exciting combination of size and speed.

Cody Hoffman (6-4, 200) was the sleeper recruit of last year's class, as he comes from a small school that isn't readily looked at by potential recruiters. Hoffman, like Thompson, has an exciting combination of speed and size that could lead him to see the field of play sooner rather than later.

Mitch Mathews (6-5, 195) has been a standout at BYU summer camps for some time now, as he's shown very good speed and agility for someone of his superior size. Mathews towers above all other receivers currently on the roster, and that height could readily pay dividends for him soon.

What I'll be Watching

It's all about who will be starting at either wide receiver position and how the rotations work out. It's also a fair bet that at least one of the incoming freshmen wide receivers could be making an immediate impact this coming season.

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