U of L receivers ready to make a statement

One of the most consistent units for the University of Louisville football team this season was the wide receivers. Now, heading into the Jan. 2 Allstate Sugar Bowl the receivers are ready to make a name for themselves for the Cardinals.

The University of Louisville football wide receivers came up with their own nickname this season – A.F.R.O.S.

"Americas finest receivers on Saturday," junior Damien Copeland said with a smile, referring to the full nickname.

The receivers have been one of the most consistent units for the Cardinals this season and are expecting to have another solid outing in the Allstate Sugar Bowl when they square off against Florida on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.

U of L has had 15 different players catch a pass with Copeland, Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, Andrell Smith and Scott Radcliff leading the charge.

"I feel like we came together and we just shared the spotlight," said Smith, who joins Radcliff as the only seniors in the group. "It's like in practice, different people make different plays and the same things happen in the games. There's always somebody different making plays for us.

"It's been a great season but we're ready for one more big game."

U of L wide receivers coach Ron Dugans said the unit doesn't "feel like they get enough credit," and want to prove their worth against the Gators.

Florida ranks No. 1 nationally in pass efficiency defense, allowing just five touchdown receptions the entire season. The Cardinals average 298.6 yards per game through the air and 25 passing TDs.

"They have all bought in," Dugans said. "It's been a rind for us, but they bought in and have all grown to be leaders. It's been fun to watch, they've all gotten better.

"They knew from early on they could be a really good group if they stuck to details and that's what they have done, stuck to details."

Copeland, who is nicknamed Honey Mustard because of his blonde mowhawk, has quietly been the leader of the group this season. He has 48 catches for 597 yards – 12.4 yards a catch – and one touchdown.

"This is the season I hoped for," Copeland said. "I wish I could have done it like this my previous two years, but everything happens for a reason. I am glad I stayed healthy and had the chance to show what I can do."

Eli Rogers, who is a sophomore and was a teammate of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at Miami Northwestern, has the second most catches this season with 42 for 443 yards and four touchdowns.

Rogers has 20 catches for 224 yards in the final four games of the season.

"It's been a good year," Rogers said. "My quarterback puts it out there and I just try and go get it for him. All I can think about is playing (in a BCS Bowl game)."

Parker, a sophomore from Ballard, has been the big play guy for two seasons. He has 38 catches for 712 yards and nine touchdowns. He's averaging 18.7 yards a catch and had two TD catches against Cincinnati.

Smith has been the steady senior, catching 30 passes for 481 yards and three TDs, while Radcliff has 14 catches for 162 yards and Jarrett Davis has caught seven passes for 54 yards. Charles Gaines only played in seven games but had 11 catches for 172 yards and one TD.

"We had a lot of young guys make plays," Dugans said. "They stayed poised. This is what you love about a group, they don't panic and just do what they need to do to help us win games. They made a lot of plays."

Dugans said the guys understand what needs to be done to be successful against Florida in the SuperDome. The receivers will be on a main stage and Rogers said, "the atmosphere is going to be crazy. This is what you play for."

"These guys know what we have to do," Dugans said. "We have to stick to the details, we have to stay on the field and we have to move the sticks."

The A.F.R.O.S. are prepared to do just that against the Gators.

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