IN FOCUS: Wide Receiver

THE BIG INJURY question for the Beavs is at wide receiver headed into the offseason. But even with the unknowns surrounding how soon James Rodgers' surgically repaired knee will be up to par, there are a variety of receiving playmakers capable of stepping up in 2011 for Oregon State.

First and foremost is Markus Wheaton.

He had a monstrous spring, catching just about everything that was near him. A leader by example, Wheaton is highly versatile – he can line up anywhere and work his way open, he's fast and he can run the fly sweep. OSU can even tuck him closer to the line and watch him exploit the middle.

Keeping Wheaton healthy this year is a must, regardless of how soon Rodgers returns, and a number of other receivers have to play to their potential so opposing defenses don't over-commit and lay the pads on Wheaton all game long. Obum Gwacham is one of those guys.

Gwacham is a red-zone threat but he can be much more. He needs to work on and improve his route running if he wants to be an elite receiver. He has the hands, speed and athleticism, but the technical aspects are where there's room for improvement. This summer is huge in that respect for him, and for OSU.

Depending on how Rodgers comes back, look for Gwacham to sink or swim. Geno Munoz looked good and stepped up this spring, but had hamstring problems towards the end. There was no doubting his resolve however. Munoz was really working hard, trying to stand out. Micah Hatfield broke his hand early on so it's still something of a guessing game as to what the Beavs have in him.

Kevin Cummings is very skinny, but he has good hands -- really good hands -- and he's quick. But injury may be an issue with him because of his size. After he got rocked by Cameron Collins this spring, suffering a mild concussion, there was some hesitancy in his play after that. This summer is critical for him to try to add some muscle that will help him withstand the pounding of playing Pac-12 football.

Darrell Catchings has the tools to be an impact receiver, he has since he arrived. But the question, as it has always been is if he can stay healthy. The Beavers need him especially to step up in the early going, with Rodgers potentially sidelined or easing his way back in.

OSU has made it a habit of developing a walk-on receiver into an impact performer in years past. Among the walk-ons, Garett Hall was one who had a good spring. But Danny Evans didn't make the strides some thought he might, and had some drops, and Mitch Singler didn't stand apart this spring.

Still, Evans may be one to watch, as might Brett Ackerman.

The entire group got along nicely with new receivers coach Brent Brennan. It was impressive how seamless the transition was, actually. If Rodgers doesn't come back until the season is underway, and/or if he isn't 100 percent the same player for an extended period, Brennan will need to put the polish on some guys quickly.

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