The position had even added the fastest man in college football as Tyreek Hill came to Oklahoma State from Garden City Community College on the promise that he would not only play some running back and return some kicks and punts but would also have the chance to show the NFL he could play in the slot.
There were returning stalwarts like Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd, David Glidden, and Marcell Ateman. There were past standouts that were injured in Austin Hays, who had played really well as a true freshman, and Blake Webb, who had been the top attention getting receiver in spring and at the Orange Blitz.
Also, C.J. Curry was looking to get on the field and Ra'Shaad Samples had come to Stillwater with the 4-star recruiting attention of a potential superstar. It sure didn't look like freshmen such as James Washington, Chris Lacy, or Kennen Brown would be needed.
In the end the Cowboys leading receivers were Glidden with 40 receptions for 598 yards, Sheperd with 39 catches for 737 yards and five touchdowns, and Washington with 28 receptions for 456 yards and a team-leading six touchdown catches. The only other receiver with more than 20 receptions or 300 receiving yards was Hill, who left the team following his dismissal with 31 catches for 281 yards.
In the opening game with Florida State, Hill caught six passes from Walsh, and Glidden had the 55-yard touchdown catch and run that was one of the biggest plays in the game. With Walsh injured against Missouri State, Sheperd stepped up to become the "go to" guy for Daxx Garman with four catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.
However, from that point on it was Sheperd, Glidden, and Washington, along with the tight ends, that were the best targets. Seales got lost when he had his midseason incident falling asleep at the wheel while in the drive thru at Whataburger. Ateman was inconsistent and after stopping on a route in the Baylor game fell out of favor.
Hays and Webb suffered injuries in fall camp and had a hard time recovering to get playing time. Samples never seemed to click in and gain the confidence of coaches.
In the end it was the veteran Glidden, the very emerging big playmaker Sheperd, and the very talented freshman Washington that earned the time on the field.
Down the stretch of the season as freshman Mason Rudolph emerged as the quarterback he found Sheperd there to make the big catches and be reliable. Freshman Lacy also played and did well. Tight ends Jeremy Season and Blake Jarwin also factored as big targets that Rudolph found often and used to move the chains.
Talented walk-on Kameron Doolittle caught the ball and was a good blocker at receiver and he too earned the confidence of the coaching staff. During bowl workouts it was pointed out that freshman Keenen Brown was going to be a future star.
There is still time and room for the likes of Seales, Ateman, Samples, Curry, Hays, and Webb to improve and be out there. The key is they have to prove it. There are enough receivers on this team that inclusion to all the fun on the field can include a multitude or it can be a more select group. It just depends on the players.
There will be plenty of opportunities to catch passes and make highlight plays. The question won't be whether there will be receivers there to get it done, because there will be, but the question is will there be more to make merrier?