Fall Camp Primer: Wide Receivers

With the Minnesota football team opening fall camp on Friday, GopherDigest.com previews the wide receiver position and asks the question on if the position will be better this fall.

It's been a few years since Gopher fans had a dependable receiver they could rely on game in and game out with the last being Eric Decker in 2009, but there are a few currently on the roster who could be special. The issue is they haven't seen any action in a college football game yet.

Head coach Jerry Kill inherits a mix of experienced and green receivers headlined by upperclassmen K.J. Maye and Drew Woliitarsky. Redshirt freshman Jeffrey Jones also figures to be firmly in the mix after a solid spring.

However after those three receivers, it's still very much open with three redshirt freshmen ready to make an impact. Desmond Gant, Isaiah Gentry and Melvin Holland all took meaningful reps this last spring and flashed ability that has GopherDigest believing that each will be seeing the field this fall. Another couple of guys to keep an eye on are sophomore Eric Carter who improved as the spring went on and true freshmen Hunter Register and Rashad Still.

Spring surprise: Jeff Jones' transition

Going into the spring everyone knew that redshirt freshman Jeff Jones had a lot of athletic ability, but his transition to wide receiver after the first few practices was impressive to see.

Every day you could see wide receivers coach Brian Anderson constantly pushing Jones in practice knowing his potential. Jones worked more at receiver than running back and while his routes still need work, he already has some of the best hands on the team. Jones rarely dropped any balls throughout the spring and is a definite playmaker. Expect Minnesota to use Jones at both running back and wide receiver in 2015, with a role similar to Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon early on in his career. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover knows he needs get Jones 5-10 touches a game and giving him position flexibility this spring will go a long way towards that goal.

Question that still needs answering: Who will be the go to receiver?

The question going forward is which wide receivers will step up for junior quarterback Mitch Leidner as each have obstacles to overcome. Maye really came on toward the end of last season and needs to deliver again this fall. Wolitarsky has been solid when healthy, but that's the issue as he had the injury bug bite him last year. After those two receivers, Minnesota has five who have little to no experience at all.

Carter, Gant, Gentry, Holland and Jones need to be ready to go come September against TCU and throughout the Gophers season for Minnesota have success.

What does the future hold at wide receiver?

After a few down years at wide receivers with transfers of Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald, the future looks bright again. The four freshman receivers all have raw ability that with more time developing with Coach Anderson, should be tapped into sooner rather than later. Put that together with two more tall targets in Hunter Register (6-5, 209) and Rashad Still (6-5, 202), Leidner and future Gopher quarterbacks will be happy with this group going forward.

Projected depth chart:

X Receiver
1 - Drew Wolitarsky (6-3, 217), Jr.
2 - Isaiah Gentry (6-4, 205) RFr.
3 - Desmond Gant (6-3, 214) RFr.
Z Receiver
1 - KJ Maye (5-10, 199), Sr.
2 - Melvin Holland (6-3, 196) RFr.
Slot Receiver
1 - Jeff Jones (6-0, 207) RFr. 2 - Eric Carter (5-11, 189) RSo.

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