NU Position Capsule: Wideouts

Northwestern's receiving core is deep and loaded with plenty of talent. However, in 2012, the group played a different role, as blockers. What does the future hold for the Wildcats' wideouts? PurpleWildcats gives a detailed breakdown.

The guys you know— Before the season started, all the talk was of Northwestern having some of the best receivers in the Big Ten—if not, the country. The unit proved to be as important as projected, but in a different way—as blockers.

Christian Jones and Demetrius Fields used their steady hands for catching the football and sealing off the outside for Kain Colter and Venric Mark. When the passing attack was used, the receiving core showed its efficiency. That should continue into 2013.

Christian Jones will join Tony Jones and Rashard Lawrence as the top targets for Northwestern's quarterbacks. Christian and Lawrence offer size and athleticism, while Tony offers standout speed and consistent hands. You can't forget superback Dan Vitale, who grew into his role as his freshman season progressed.

Keep an eye on— Each day in practice, redshirt freshmen receiver Cam Dickerson and Pierre Youngblood-Ary showed their skills. The two will be linked to each other as both were in the same recruiting class, sat on the sidelines during their first season, and have progressed on a similar path. Both are 6-foot-3 and have similar abilities, too.

Moving forward, Dickerson and Youngblood-Ary will have to battle for reps against each other, and it won't come easy within a deep group. However, the futures of these two young receivers are very bright.

What about?— Kyle Prater entered Northwestern with incredible hype; that after the former five-star receiver fizzled out with USC. Yet, in his first season with Northwestern, he never quite materialized into the playmaker he was panned out to be—not yet, at least.

You can't put the 6-foot-5 Prater on the bench. His potential is too high and his talents are too strong. However, he must use practice time to make necessary improvements. It's unfair to call Prater a bust or disappointment; it's too soon into his young collegiate career. For now, the Wildcats must be patient and let Prater push toward his potential.

Entering the fold— Northwestern has two verbal commitments set to play receiver at Northwestern, and one whom has the versatility to play on either side of the ball. Houston standout Macan Wilson brings tremendous speed to the field. The same can be said for local product Tommy Fuessel, of Lincoln-Way East (Ill.) High School, but he has the 6-foot-3 frame to match it.

Lyons Township (Ill.) product Matt Harris is fast and athletic, bringing great abilities to the receiving core, but is also a ball-hawking safety. He may be best suited in the secondary.

Prediction— Changing the pace from last season, Northwestern will air it out a bit more in the future. Christian Jones will emerge as a top receiver while Cam Dickerson will step into a primary playmaking role. Meanwhile, superback Dan Vitale will continue the momentum of his freshman season.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats. He resides on Chicago's north side.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Big Red Report Top Stories