If the running back position is thin going into spring then the wide receiver position is as thick as it gets in the spring. James Washington returns to head a group that also includes injured senior from a year ago in the very physically gifted and experienced Marcell Ateman.
Chris Lacy (pictured), who had a terrific season, returns with 31 catches for 489 yards and three touchdowns last season. Inside receiver Jalen McCleskey is back after hauling in 73 receptions for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. Without Ateman, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, the trio of Washington, McCleskey and Lacy had 175 receptions for 2,681 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Also, back for this season are Dillon Stoner, who did get a medical red-shirt after catching five passes for 27 yards. Freshman Obi Obialo is also back as is red-shirt freshman Tyrell Alexander.
Talking to the beat writers on Tuesday, head coach Mike Gundy emphasized that Washington will get less reps in team periods and scrimmages as there is not a lot he can gain and there is no need to risk injury to the All-American candidate. He also said quarterback Mason Rudolph would get fewer team reps as the coaching staff looks to get more reps with the other quarterbacks and determine the second and third signal callers going into August.
Back to receivers, there needs to be work for the younger receivers like Obialo, Stoner, Alexander, and LSU transfer Tyron Johnson, who came out of high school as one of the most highly sought after receivers in the country.
"With all the receivers we've got coming back we have to use our receivers personnel well," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said a few weeks ago. "It allows us to keep them fresh and to rotate guys in, especially during the spring when we have so many seasoned guys that you really don't need to see what they can do. We want to improve from a technique standpoint and we want to stay sharp, but at the same time it gives us an opportunity to prepare some younger guys and get them ready and a number of reps."
Receivers coach Kasey Dunn is eager to get to work in spring with the younger receivers as he is well aware that Washington, Ateman, and Lacy will be departing after the 2017 season, and the next up group needs to be prepared to keep the Oklahoma State passing offense going. All of the younger receivers getting the extra quality reps will be seeing those snaps often with quarterbacks like Keondre Wudtee and Taylor Cornelius, even freshman Jelani Woods.
It is a good problem to have and extra good that the same situation exists to a degree at quarterback.
"Obviously, we have a very healthy receiving corps," added Yurcich.