The Time is Right For Wide Receivers

Although Mississippi State has several good wide receivers on their roster, almost all of them are seniors and juniors. Because of that, the wide receiver position will be a prime recruiting objective the next two recruiting seasons. So, if a guy is a big-time wide receiver, why would he choose Mississippi State?

According to MSU head man Coach Croom, there are numerous reasons why.

"All the ingredients that allow you to develop a high-powered throwing offense are almost in place," said Croom. "Really, next season will be the first where we have all the ingredients in place except having the young wide receivers that can step in and make an immediate contribution."

Obviously, a good quarterback is one of the main reasons. And, over the course of the last five games true freshman quarterback Wesley Carroll has thrown the ball an average of 33 times and completed 19 per game while averaging 209 yards passing per game. Plus, there are solid backups behind him.

"Our quarterback situation is in excellent shape," said Croom. "We have Wes coming back. We have (junior) Mike (Henig) coming back. We have (junior) Josh Riddell coming off an injury. And we have Chris Relf, a freshman who is redshirting.

"Any receiver wants to go where the quarterback situation is already stable. And not only is our quarterback situation stable, but it will be stable the entire time a freshman wide receiver is here because all those guys can throw the football."

And an experienced offensive line, with a mixture of veterans and youngsters, helps stabilize the offense even more. State, for the most part, has played eight offensive linemen significant snaps during the season. And six of the eight return next season. Of those six, one is a true freshman, one a redshirt freshman, one a sophomore, and three are juniors. Add in two others - a redshirt freshman and a sophomore - that have played at times this year and you have eight guys returning who have played in SEC games. And that doesn't include the true freshmen that are being redshirted this year.

"The thing that I'm sure wide receivers don't think about is the offensive line," noted Croom. "You aren't going to throw the ball very well if you don't have a good offensive line. And our offensive line is set for the next four years."

And having an outstanding young running back like Anthony Dixon returning for the next two years also makes it easier on wide receivers as far as the type pass coverage they will face.

"if you have a solid running game (receivers) are going to face one-on-one coverage a lot of the time," explained Croom. "Our receivers pretty much always face one-on-one coverage on the outside because (our opponents) have to bring an eighth guy down to the box to defend against Anthony Dixon."

And behind Dixon, State has another sophomore, Christian Ducre, and Robert Elliott, a speedy freshman who is redshirting this year.

While those ingredients will turn most heads of wide receivers, State also offers something very important to most prospects - early playing time.

"We are losing wide receivers Tony Burks and Lance Long, two valuable seniors," said Croom. "And next year we are going to lose three guys - Jamayel Smith, Co-Eric Riley and Aubrey Bell, all of whom will be seniors.

"We have an excellent situation here for any receiver to not only play a lot but to also have an immediate impact. Even if they don't start as freshmen, we will surely expect them to be starting by their sophomore year. But all that is left up to how fast the young man develops."

As for what type receiver Coach Croom and his staff is looking for, it's the same thing that the pros are looking for - the total package.

"Just like the NFL, we are looking for the total package in a wide receiver," said Croom. "Of course, we want a guy who can catch the football and we want him to have good athleticism. We also like guys with good size so that they will be able to get off jams and run by defensive backs. But they also have to have a willingness to be detailed and disciplined in their route-running as well. And we look for tough guys because they have to block as well."

With everything else in place to take MSU's passing offense to another level, all the MSU staff has to do is sign those young wide receivers who are the complete package.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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