Position series: Wide receivers

Cardinal Authority is running a position series as a preseason football feature to help you get familiar with the entire University of Louisville roster. Our final provides a look at the Cardinals wide receivers.


With star wide receiver DeVante Parker sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a foot injury, the University of Louisville wide receiver position changes quite a bit a week before kickoff.

The Cardinals had been one of the deepest - and best - receiving groups in the country. The loss of Parker is huge but the Cardinals still have some talent in the grouping.

"He's a tremendous player," U of L coach Bobby Petrino said. "But other guys have to step up and perform. We're fortunate enough in this situation to have a lot of experienced players (at WR).

"We have Eli Rogers, Michalee (Harris), Kai De La Cruz, Matt Milton, James Quick, guys that have played in games before and made plays. They're going to have to contribute."

Parker, an All-American candidate and potential all-time leader in several categories at U of L, was slated to have surgery on Monday in Charlotte, N.C., on the broken little toe on his left foot. He was injured on Friday.

The Cardinals open next Monday with Miami at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and others in the wide receiver group will have to step up. Quarterback Will Gardner said his team "has a lot of guys who can do it," noting Parker was one of "a bunch of good guys," in the group.

Parker was listed as the starting X wide receiver with that position now going to De La Cruz, a senior who was a key player last season until some mid-season injuries.

Senior Eli Rogers is listed at the 'W' position, while sophomore James Quick has won the battle and will start at the 'Z'. Senior Matt Milton, a 6-foot-5 former transfer from Tennessee, is listed as the backup to the X and Z positions with senior Michalee Harris listed as the backup to Rogers.

"It will kind of be a rotation," Petrino said. "Kai and Matt Milton, Eli can also play both inside and outside (receiver), as well as Michalee. We just have to do a good job of making sure they're fresh out there and full speed coming off the ball."


James Quick, Sophomore

The former five-star All-American from Trinity High School had a tough transition into the college game. He was the MVP of the U.S. Army All-American game two years ago.

But his freshman season he struggled with lack of playing time early on and then a case of the drops as the season played on.

Quick finished the season with six catches for 73 yards and scored his only TD on a fumbled recovery on the punt return team against Central Florida for the Cardinals.

With the new coaching change came renewed confidence for Quick. He had a "really good" spring, according to Petrino, and has been solid in the fall after his off-the-field issues during the summer. Petrino said he's "excited" about what Quick can bring to the offense.

Quick could now have an even bigger season than expected with the loss of Parker. He likely turns into one of Will Gardner's main targets.


Matt Milton, Senior

Had there not been a coaching change, Milton likely wouldn't have been on the team. He was among a group former coach Charlie Strong had told they were not coming back.

But soon after getting the job, Petrino met with Milton and the former Tennessee wide receiver had a sensational spring.

Milton was one of the top surprises of the summer and has continued his solid effort this fall. He had a long TD catch in the open scrimmage two weeks ago and is expected to see a lot of time - and likely be targeted a lot - during the early part of the season.


***There are three true freshmen in the mix for playing time at wide receiver - Javonte Bagley, Cornelius Sturghill and Cameron Polk. The latter was here in spring practice but was injured, so none of the three got a jump.

***Bagley has drawn comparisons to former U of L star wide receiver Harry Douglas.

***Jaquay Williams is sitting out this season after his transfer from Texas A&M.

***Gio Pascascio is an intriguing player. He's a JUCO transfer with the size and speed to contribute in the Petrino offense.

***Among the walk-ons at wide receiver: former Ballard star Dontez Byrd, former Trinity star Cody Swabek, ex-Manual receiver Chris Meile and former Central star Tae'Shawn Gibbs.

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