2007 Wide Receiver Preview

The Bearcats start summer football practice in about one month so we continue our preview of each of the positions. Last week we looked at the Cincinnati offensive line. This week we'll preview the UC receivers.

With Brian Kelly's new spread offense, the wide receivers take on a more prominent roll, but the position was dealt a blow when one of the 2006 leading receivers, Derrick Stewart, left the squad for academic reasons.  Stewart led the Bearcat receivers with 675 yards last season, and he was third on the squad in receptions with 33.  He managed these numbers despite starting in only two games.


Replacing Stewart's big play capability will be difficult, but the Bearcats do return their top receiver, Dominick Goodman.  Last year, Goody led the team with 40 receptions in only his second year at the position.  The ex-Colerain quarterback combines exceptional hands with the innate ability to make people miss for the all important "yards after catch" (YAC).  Dominick should be really hitting his stride as he heads into his junior season.


The player that is closest to replacing Stewart's skill set is Marty Gilyard.  The Florida native sat out last year as he got his academics in order, but Gilyard is a slightly bigger version of Stewart.  Gilyard's status is in limbo at the moment since he played in a semi-pro football game with the Kings Comets in July.  Marty said he wasn't paid and played in only the one contest, but the NCAA will need to determine his eligibility.


Senior Antwuan Giddens has had a pretty nondescript career as a Bearcat, but the California native has one final chance to show what he can do.  Giddens has good size at 6' 3"/190 pounds, but he has been unable to translate that potential into production on the field.  Last year Antwuan had only one catch for 22 yards.


Another Bearcat waiting for that breakout season is redshirt sophomore Jared Martin.  The high school quarterback has the speed, athleticism and hands to be an excellent receiver but has struggled at times to stay healthy.  Jared saw his first game action last year and caught 6 balls for 73 yards including a 22 yard touchdown against Ohio State.  Martin could really thrive in Kelly's offense.


Two more high school quarterbacks are trying to work their way into the rotation.  Junior David Wess has bounced around from position to position, but I expect him to compete with the receivers for playing time in 2007.  Wess was described by the previous staff as one of the best athletes on the squad, but he's struggled to find his niche in college.  Fifth year senior, Mike Daniels, played quarterback at Princeton High School, but Mike is trying to return from a knee injury that kept him out of last year.  Like Wess, Daniels seems to switch positions every year, but I expect Daniels to play receiver instead of running back in 2007. 


A player who had a very good spring after redshirting in 2006 was Marcus Barnett.  The freshman has good height at 6' 1" but is barely 170 pounds.  Nevertheless, Marcus showed good speed and athleticism during April practices.  He could be the surprise of the year at the receiver position.


Other veterans that could compete for playing time are walk-ons Charley Howard and converted Akron quarterback Kurt Shoemaker.  Both Howard and Shoemaker have good size.  Charley is 6' 4" and 200 pounds while Kurt stands 6' 2" and weighs 202 pounds.  Both can catch the ball and could push for playing time in the new offense.


True freshman Armon Binns, O.J. Woodard, Tomaz Hilton and Adrien Robinson are expected to begin their college careers at wide receiver, but I believe we'll see a lot of position experimentation with the freshmen.  Woodard, Hilton and Robinson have a decent chance to see the field as true freshmen, but two of them could also change positions.  Hilton could easily be moved to safety while Robinson could take his 6' 5" frame and become a hybrid tight end in Kelly's offense.


Although these two true freshmen will likely begin their careers on defense, they could also be moved to the offensive side of the ball.  Last I heard, Clinton Massie's Drew Frey was slated to line up at safety, but staff members have discussed playing the 6' 3"/200 pounder at a variety of positions.  At one point, Coach Kelly even suggested the talented Frey could grow into a defensive end later in his career.  I really believe Frey's best position is at receiver, but Bearcat fans will have to wait and see where he lands.  The other true freshman that will be the hot topic of discussion with position coaches is Tahree McQueen.  Several of Cincinnati's coaches will lobby for his services.  He could play defensive back, running back or wide receiver.  If McQueen plays receiver, he could also see the field as a true freshman.


Finally, one veteran could return to wide receiver after spending most of the spring at tight end.  Earnest Jackson (6' 3"/215), yet another converted high school quarterback, had 17 catches for 223 yards as a junior, but with Connor Barwin, Kazeem Ali, Doug Jones and Ben Guidugli at tight end, I'm just not sure Jackson will stay there when practice begins in August.

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