OSU SPRING PREVIEW: The Wide Receivers

CORVALLIS – Receivers coach Brent Brennan will have his work cut out for him this spring when looking for a receiver, or receivers, who can fill the void left by Brandin Cooks. The important thing here is that OSU has options. So who stands the best chance to make noise during the spring -- veterans or the youth? And will the flanker and slotback positions get a makeover?

Spring ball will be integral for OSU's offensive strategy as a young corps of wideouts will look to establish an identity for the passing game in 2014.

The departure of Brandin Cooks for the NFL has left a sizeable hole in the offensive game plan, and the spring training session can go a long way toward determining who will help patch things up.

Look for current sophomore Richard Mullaney (6-3, 194) to do a lot of that patching.

He's the starter at split-end, and a talented possession receiver. Mullaney presents a big target for Mannion, and if he can turn spring into an opportunity to reach that next level, he could very well become the go-to-guy in the aerial attack.

Mullaney doesn't have the straight-line speed necessary to transition from split-end to flanker, so I don't expect him to move into that role. Victor Bolden (5-9, 165) needs some added muscle and conditioning, but his style of play mirrors quite closely that of Cooks and he was groomed for the flanker position throughout the 2013 regular season - it's his job to lose.

Bolden's still going to be young this season and his best days are down the road. But he showed enough glimpses last season to indicate he has the ability, like Cooks, to be special. That's what speed and an impressive burst does for you.

BUT THE REAL spring showdown might occur at slotback, where 6-3, 213 pound Malik Gilmore is the incumbent, with a job that is by no means secure. A third year sophomore-to-be, Gilmore's experience amounts to seven receptions for 76 yards throughout 12 games played in 2013.

Gilmore's seat is warming up because he is newer to the slotback role and there figures to be other pushing him.

And second-year freshman Hunter Jarmon in particular.

Jarmon stands at 5-10, 200 pounds and was one of the most impressive scout team receivers I saw in 2013. He's got solid hands and a knack for using his large frame to his advantage.

Much like Mullaney, Jarmon presents a sizeable target for quarterbacks, and the cherry on top is that he is a pretty good run blocker.

MEANWHILE IN THE ranks, redshirt freshman to-be Jordan Villamin is the wildcard. He's a toss-up for academic reasons. OSU coaches love the idea of what the 6-4, 240-pounder could do in the Beaver offense, he's been called a physical freak of nature. But until he becomes eligible, it's a moot conversation.

Freshmen Walter Jones is also in the mix. How much depends on how his offseason has gone.

Stevie Coury, along with Blair Cavanaugh and J.C. Grim, have a tall ladder to climb in order to break away from the pack.

But hey, anything can happen in spring ball.

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