Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

The Hurricanes are returning a veteran receiving corps whose experience could translate into success on game day.

Seniors Darnell Jenkins and Lance Leggett, alongside sophomore Sam Shields will anchor a receiving corps that will be among the most talented in the ACC in 2007.

However, talent hasn't always translated to production in recent years. Miami's offense has been stagnant and marred by inconsistency, some of which can be pinned on the receivers. This spring will be a crucial one for them, because they will be looking to make a strong impression before fall practice begins and new competition arrives (JUCO transfer Kayne Farqueson and freshmen Leonard Hankerson, Daniel Adderly, and Jermaine McKenzie).

Senior Darnell Jenkins

Jenkins was granted a medical redshirt this offseason after suffering a season-ending knee injury in September. Before the injury, he was leading Miami with 13 catches for 183 yards in 3 games, and was quarterback Kyle Wright's primary target on the outside. Assuming he kept that pace, he was on pace for over 50 catches and almost 800 yards. Jenkins had been lost in the shuffle earlier in his career. He would almost always be one of the top performers in practice, but wouldn't necessarily be a playmaker in games. He showed signs of shedding that mantra last year. On Miami's first play from scrimmage of the 2006 season versus Florida State, Jenkins beat his man deep on a fly pattern that Wright over threw. Jenkins doesn't necessarily have breakaway speed, and he doesn't have the size to be a true possession receiver, but he is a solid all-around receiver with good wiggle who can make people miss and rarely drops a ball. Miami will benefit from both his consistency and senior leadership this spring.

Senior Lance Leggett

Leggett enters his senior season as a player who still has loads of untapped potential, but has been plagued by inconsistency and what some people consider to be a possible lack of effort. He followed up an impressive freshman campaign with a near disastrous sophomore season, but his junior year was relatively solid. He had considerably less drops despite having more passes thrown his way and ended up as Miami's second leading receiver (behind tight end Greg Olsen) with 37 catches for 581 yards. Still, anyone who sees him can tell you that his production doesn't match his potential. It'll be interesting to see how much patience Coach Shannon has with him, and if he can put it all together or be relegated to the bench. He's got all the tools, but if he doesn't use them and excel in practice, he could find himself on the third team very quickly.

Sophomore Sam Shields

Shields came onto campus last fall being hailed as a savior of sorts, because he was supposed to bring explosiveness back to Miami's offensive skill positions. He had an impressive freshman season, raking in 33 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns. When Darnell Jenkins went down with injury, Shields was called upon to start, and got over some earlier growing pains to have a good season. Shields had generally solid hands despite making one or two crucial drops earlier in the year, most notably on third down in the waning moments of the Florida State game. Following a good freshman year, Shields will be expected to continue progressing in the spring. He said in an interview back in December that he would be trying to work mainly on his strength during the offseason, so in the spring we'll be able to see if he made an effort to get stronger when we see him matched up against jamming defensive backs. This season will be crucial for Shields because it will set the tone for the rest of his career. Under the right system and with good coaches, he can definitely progress into a true playmaker.

Junior Khalil Jones

Jones has always been impressive physically, but was seen as somewhat of a reach when he was recruited in 2004. As a sophomore last season, he saw limited action, hauling in just five catches for 51 yards. Khalil is a player who needs to have a huge spring, or he'll be bypassed on the depth chart by younger guys and never make an impact at Miami.

Freshman George Robinson

Robinson is an intriguing player because he's got good measurables but was never highly recruited coming out of high school. He took a redshirt last season and didn't contribute much in practice. Regardless, he is listed here because he is a scholarship receiver and he is young enough that an impressive spring may land him a spot on the depth chart. No one knows what to expect from Robinson, so it might be worth keeping an eye on him during the spring to see if he can make an impact.

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