FNL Preview: Wide Receivers (Part I)

Friday Night Lights will truly be a special event from a number of different angels but none more so than the talent that will be on hand on the offensive side of the ball. Even more impressive than the running backs that will be on hand, this year's wide receivers offer the kind of talent seen only at all-star games.

FNL Preview: Wide Receivers (Part II)

Before we start with who will be in town lets look at the current wide receivers for the 2007 season. At the wide receiver position, it is all about speed and this group has plenty of it.

  • Andre Caldwell (6-0/198/Sr)
  • Cornelius Ingram (6-4/224/Jr)
  • Louis Murphy (6-2/199/Jr)
  • Percy Harvin (5-11/181/So)
  • Jarred Fayson (6-0/200/So)
  • David Nelson (6-4/208/So)
  • Riley Cooper (6-3/207/So)
  • Justin Williams (6-1/195/Fr)
  • Paul Wilson (6-0/185/Fr)
  • Deonte Thompson (5-11/186/Fr)

    The leader at the wide receiver position without question is Andre Caldwell. Caldwell possesses that rare ability to stretch the field vertically or go over the middle and make the tough catch. His ability out of the backfield will create nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators. Last season, Caldwell accumulated 21 carries for 102 yards at 4.9 per carry and one touchdown. From the receiver position, he totaled 57 catches for 577 yards and six touchdowns. Even more impressive than the numbers is how he has taken the younger guys under his wing. Every one of the wide receivers on the team looks to him for guidance on and off the field.

    Percy Harvin had just as big of an impact for the Gators as did any other true freshman in college football. His breathtaking cutting ability and vision was showcased in every big game the Gators played. On the season, Harvin totaled 41 carries for 428 yards and three touchdowns. None bigger than the game changing touchdown run against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Georgia Dome. Harvin added 34 catches for 427 yards and two touchdowns from the receiver position.

    Harvin, like Caldwell, possesses the kind of speed that you can only hope to contain. Harvin and Caldwell will be the focal point of this year's offense, and when they are healthy, they are as explosive as any 1-2 punch in the country.

    With Harvin and Caldwell, commanding so much attention from defensive coordinators next season, look for a third receiver to have a break out year. My pick is Jarred Fayson. It is hard to imagine that Fayson had only one catch for nine yards last year (if I had not looked it up, I would not have believed it either). All of his production last year came on end around or shuttle passes. Fasyon, for the year had 14 carries for 126 yards and one touchdown. His 9.0 yards per carry were second only to Harvin's 10.4 per carry. He showed great explosiveness during practice while demonstrating improved hands.

    Louis Murphy had a tremendous performance in the Orange and Blue Game and is one of the more physical receivers on the team. Head coach Urban Meyer puts a premium on blocking from his receivers and this is an area where Murphy excels. The added repetition in practice is where Murphy made a case for playing time next season, so much that he has a chance to crack the starting rotation. Last season, he totaled two catches for 42 yards and one touchdown.

    Heading into last season one of the players that I was most excited about watching was Riley Cooper. Now in his sophomore season, Cooper continues rehabilitation on his feet. By August, he should be ready to go. Look for him to push his way into the rotation. Cooper has great speed and is very physical, just ask LSU. During his freshman campaign, Cooper had four catches for 92 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his touchdowns came in the 62-0 route against Western Carolina. Cooper is behind some of the other wide receivers due to the foot issue, but has that rare combination of speed and toughness that allows him to go over the middle and make the tough catch or stretch the field vertically.

    David Nelson and Justin Williams had very productive spring games combining for 13 catches and 134 yards. Both have done some good things in practice and will be counted on to provide depth. Nelson had five catches for 76 yards this past season.

    Paul Wilson enrolled early and will benefit from being around guys like Harvin and Caldwell. Many Gator fans alike anticipate the arrival of another wide receiver this summer in Deonte Thompson from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central High School. Thompson was one of the most dangerous players in the nation last year in leading Glades Central to the 3-A state championship. In limited time, he had 30 catches for 504 yards and eight touchdowns. Thompson has been timed as low as 4.28. He is a true game changer and is a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball. Did I mention he averaged 42.9 yards per punt return his junior season?

    FNL Preview: Wide Receivers (Part II)

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