Despite the loss of Thomas to the pros, the Jackets return some players with experience at the receiver position. "Tyler Melton and Stephen Hill started and played a lot last year, Quentin Sims has gotten some action and is doing some good things, Kevin Cone is coming off the ankle injury and he's doing some good things, and DJ McKayhan, Jeremy Moore, and Correy Earls are helping us out too," said Coach Preston. "The guys are starting to do some things that you want to see them do, it's great competition and we'll see what happens."
One of the players expected to pick up the slack for the loss of Thomas is Stephen Hill. He got some good experience his freshman season and the coaches are anxious to see if he makes that big jump in his second season at Tech. "It's an ongoing process, he's made improvements, and he's more aggressive to the ball with his hands and that's the key." Coach Preston expects those things will allow him to stay on his feet and make things happen.
Depth is not a concern for Coach Preston. "It's what I got and I'll coach the guys I have and lord willing they'll go out there and do some good things this year."
Last season most of the passes went in Thomas' direction. There is good reason for that. "You have to know who's going to make the plays and you get the ball in his hands and fortunately he did some good things with it when he had the opportunity." This year the staff will be looking for that type of player who they can rely on to make those plays.
Tyler Melton returns as a starter and one who has made some nice contributions over the past few seasons. "He's worked hard and he's made some improvements this year again and hopefully he'll give himself a chance to do some good things this year."
Melton is the one member of the receiving corps with the most experience. He finds that somewhat amusing. "I knew it would come one day but it's kind of surreal looking back when I was the young kid coming up and trying to learn from everybody else." The roles have switched now and Melton is the one teaching the younger players. "The nice thing about this is that I now know the answers."
Tyler is hoping this will be the year when he's the receiver the team looks for to make the big plays. "I really do think it will be a breakthrough year but regardless I'm about the team and I'm just trying to win a championship."
Melton and his teammates are aware of the one loss at the receiver position but feels they have some good pieces. "Everyone is very talented and everyone has speed and hands," said Melton. "We're kind of young but everyone is trying to take care of business."
Many assume that with the loss of some important pieces in the offense that there may be a noticeable difference in this year's offense. "Honestly I really haven't noticed a difference and I think guys are ready to step up and play and I think they came into camp with the mentality to get better."
Coach Preston is still in the teaching phase of things in the preseason and the depth chart is not a concern right now. "All that will take care of itself with time and the main thing is to keep getting better and keep competing," said Coach Preston. "I've seen some things with guys improving and that's exciting." Coach Preston expects all of that to shake out by the time the first game rolls around.