Class of 2011: Wide Receivers

In a spread offense, the reliability of the WR play is crucial to the overall efficiency of the offense. On signing day, Rick Stockstill and staff added a pair of talented prep stars to the pass-catching ranks. Read below for BRZ's breakdown on the class of 2011's wide receivers.

While the numbers are easy to stomach skimming the roster, the fact that the Blue Raiders lose only two wideouts to graduation this year is a bit misleading. Among the pair is senior WR Garrett Andrews, who led the team in receptions this season with 34. He also accumulated a second-best 377 yards through the air and was one of four Blue Raiders with two touchdown catches. Dual-sport senior Wes Caldwell nabbed nine catches for 73 yards in 2010, too.

The inconsistency of the passing game was a thorn in the side of Middle Tennessee during the past season. After an impressive offensive showing in 2009 under then-coordinator Tony Franklin, the Blue Raiders stumbled during the one-season tenure of Mike Schultz. The side-by-side comparisons of each team show the drop in overall passing numbers:

Yardage through the air
2009: 3,064 yards
2010: 2,485 yards

Receiving Touchdowns
2009: 25
2010: 9

Yards per reception
2009: 11.0
2010: 12.9

Receiving yards per game
2009: 235.7
2010: 191.2

To blame the numbers solely on the play of the wide receivers isn't entirely fair. The quarterback position had its share of documented woes in 2010, but the overall offense lacked a homerun threat last season. With this in mind, the Blue Raiders identified wide receiver as a position in need of a boost heading into the off-season. The result was the signature of two talented wide receivers who hope to add strength to the receiving corps in the years to come.

Christian Collis
At 6-1, 195 lbs., Beauregard High School's Christian Collis was a target for the Blue Raider staff early in the Summer. During his senior season at Beauregard, Collis pulled in an impressive 45 receptions for 832 yards and eight touchdowns. That followed a junior campaign during which he caught 27 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns.

Christian Collis Although he might not blow people away with his size, Collis does have an impressive vertical game. His ability to go up and get the ball is a necessary skill for deep threats in the passing game. Collis' vertical leap measured in at 36 ½ inches at a camp last Summer. On top of that, he was also clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.

Overall, Collis has the ability to make a real impact on the Blue Raider passing game. He's a reliant route runner with good hands who can go up and take the ball away from a defender. While he would like to see the field in 2011, he maintains that he'll defer to the judgment of the coaching staff if they think it's better for him to redshirt this upcoming season.

Tracy Hampton
Hailing form Nashville, Tenn., Overton High School's Tracy Hampton didn't have to go far to find his collegiate home. At 5-11, 175 lbs. he fits the mold of a typical slot receiver. All indications are that that's where Hampton will find himself on the next level, as he's stated that he and the staff have had multiple conversations about his ability to run screens and bubble routes.

Tracy Hampton With his 4.4 speed, Hampton figures to be a perfect fit for the Middle Tennessee offense. Quick and elusive, he is an accomplished route runner, although his high school's offensive scheme prevented him from showcasing that skill during his prep career. Overton's offense is very much a run-based attack, so often times Hampton's speed was utilized in the run game.

Still, his high school coach maintains that Tracy is simply an electrifying player who had several packages created simply to get him the ball. Hampton is a do-it-all type of receiver who could earn himself a stellar reputation by the time his playing days in Murfreesboro are over.

Not over yet
Although signing day has come and gone, the Blue Raider staff isn't done at the wide receiver position just yet. With a precious few scholarships remaining, head coach Rick Stockstill has identified DT and WR as positions of interest for the remaining spots. Currently, it's unknown whether the staff will look to the high school or JUCO ranks for the next WR signee. If they go the JUCO route, look for a guy who would come in and immediately contribute in 2011. Still, with the number of receivers returning this season they can choose to sign another high school player and opt to spend time getting him acquainted with the offense.

Stay tuned to for more on the WR situation and for the web's best exclusive coverage of Middle Tennessee athletics!

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