Lots of competition at receiver

The Hurricanes will have eight freshman wide receivers on the roster this fall and all of them will be given a chance to make an impact early on since there's not a whole lot of experience coming back at the position.

Travis Benjamin, 5-11, 160, FR
LaRon Byrd, 6-3, 210, FR
Thearon Collier, 5-9, 165, FR
Kayne Farquharson, 6-1, 190, SR
Leonard Hankerson, 6-3, 200, SO
Aldarius Johnson, 6-2, 195, FR
Davon Johnson, 5-11, 165, FR
Khalil Jones, 6-3, 220, SR
Jermaine McKenzie, 6-2, 175, rFR
Sam Shields, 6-0, 175, JR
Tommy Streeter, 6-5, 200, FR
Kendal Thompkins, 5-11, 165, FR

It's no secret that the Hurricanes struggled throwing the football last season. It's also no secret that the best wide receiver on last year's team was Darnell Jenkins and it wasn't even close. Jenkins made plays all season for the Hurricanes and his leadership and playmaking abilities will be missed this season. This is one area of the team that simply doesn't have a whole lot of experience. Only one returning player, Sam Shields, had a double digit catch total a season ago. The rest are out to prove something.

Only four of the 12 on the roster right now have ever played in a college game before. One of those guys, senior Khalil Jones, caught just one pass his entire junior season. Hopefully now you can see why the coaching staff made recruiting wide receivers for the Class of 2008 such a high priority. Getting Jermaine McKenzie back from injury will be a huge addition and getting Aldarius Johnson, arguably the most talented of the incoming freshman receivers, in for spring drills was another huge plus.

Shields finished his junior season with 27 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns. By far, he's had the most productive career of all the receivers coming back this season, even though his career has been somewhat inconsistent, both on and off the field, up to this point. The Hurricanes are hoping Shields can finally put it all together and have a banner season. Having him develop into a go-to guy like Jenkins would be huge.

The other starter seems up for grabs at this point. The coaches seem to be high on McKenzie, who is coming off a redshirt season. Hankerson showed some flashes of excellence as a true freshman last season. He has a tremendous combination of size, athleticism, and playmaking ability. He might not be the fastest guy out there but he should develop into a legitimate threat in the downfield passing game this season. Farquharson, who certainly never lacks confidence, is hoping to put together a strong senior season after catching just nine passes in his initial season as a Hurricane.

The rest of the receivers are a couple months removed from high school. There's a good mixture of them, too. Travis Benjamin is probably the fastest and most explosive of the group. Davon Johnson isn't far behind in that regard. Tommy Streeter is the biggest target of the group at 6-5, while LaRon Byrd is the most physically impressive at 6-3 and over 200 pounds. Collier might have the best ball skills and route-running ability of all the incoming freshman receivers and while he doesn't have tremendous size or speed, he's actually a lot like Jenkins at the same age.

If the Canes are to improve on offense this season, they'll need to get more production from the passing game. You can be sure that teams, especially early in the season, will try stopping the run to force Miami into throwing the ball. That's why the development of the young receivers will be so important. One thing's for sure – there is plenty of competition and that's something that seems to have been missing at this position over the last few years.


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