The good: Bigger, stronger, faster - all of these words apply to the majority of the returning receivers. Sammie Stroughter is back with his wonderful smile and his circus catches. James Rodgers is quicker, faster and more involved in the offense as the coaches look to put the ball in his hands more.
The receiving unit is stacked with experience, talent and are ready to carry the offensive load as a new running back is broken in.
The bad: Kjos was slowed down with back spasms. Dropped passes in the spring game.
The question: Will the receivers live up to the pre-season hype?
Top spring performer: Sammie Stroughter and James Rodgers. Potentially one of the most explosive receiving duos in the nation. Both are leaders and ready to share the offensive load with each other.
Riley says: "In just one season we went from the receivers being the thinnest group on the team in terms of experience, to one of the deepest. This was a big area of concern for us last season, but I feel much more comfortable about it this year."
Rodgers says: "We've got a lot of players on the team - Sammie's back, Darrell Catchings, Chris Johnson. We've got a good, strong receiving corps that can all make good plays."
- So. James Rodgers
(5-7, 182) - stronger, faster, better route runner, although still
working on his route running and is planning on working very hard this summer,
and better blocker...Riley says Rodgers had a "great spring"...want
to get him in open space and let him use his speed...does not go down with
one defender...look for him to get the ball in motion, in the slot, in the
backfield, and at wide out...led all receivers with four catches for 96 yards
and one touchdown, rushed three times for 12 yards in spring game.
- Sr. Sammie Stroughter
(6-0, 189) - emotionally healed from a year ago....bigger, stronger and will
open up plays for Rodgers and Catchings...excellent speed...superb footwork...knows
how to use his body...Stroughter says: "Hopefully, the passion that I
play with will rub off on everybody else."....Riley says in relation
to Stroughter's attitude: "I want it to be contagious."...caught
three passes for 58 yards in spring game.
- So. Casey Kjos
(6-2, 221) - not fast, but Riley likes his size and toughness...good football
instincts, knows how to play the game...caught four passes for 46 yards in
spring game...expected to enter the rotation in the fall, slowed by back problems
but missed minimal time.
- So. Darrell Catchings
(5-11, 168) - team's leading returning receiver with 33 catches for 386 yards
and one touchdown as a freshman...could have a breakout year with opponents
focusing on Stroughter and Rodgers...excellent downfield blocker...caught
one pass for 15 yards in spring game.
- Jr. Damola Adeniji
(6-3, 219) - a big body with solid hands...caught one pass for 76 yards and
one touchdown in spring game.
- Jr. Taylor Kavanaugh
(5-10, 170) - tough nosed walk on who will serve as the team's holder and
return punts...one catch for 10 yards in spring game.
- So. Shawn McGarity
(5-10, 173) - may be asked to leave the program to make room for freshman.
- Sr. Shane Morales
(6-1, 203) - caught almost everything thrown his way...in the starting rotation...grabbed
16 passes for 115 yards in a backup role last year...does the little things
to keep the offense moving...caught one pass for 12 yards in spring game.
- So. Sam Oltman
(6-1, 209) - may be asked to move on to make room for freshman...caught three
passes for 39 yards in spring game.
- So. Aaron Nichols
(6-0, 179) - one of the more talented walk ons with great hands and quickness,
but may be asked to move on to make room for freshman.
- Sr. Chris Johnson
(6-1, 193) - want to use his speed,, could be very deadly as defenses focus
on Rodgers and Stroughter...caught just 7 passes for 93 yards in 2007...caught three passes for 32 yards in spring game...decent hands
- So. Kyle Brown
(6-4, 211) - excellent size, but still gets roughed up at the line of scrimmage...will
have to wait a year before receiving much playing time.
Coming in the fall: Kevan Walker (6-1, 186), one time UCLA verbal and son of UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, Jordan Bishop (6-3, 195) a track start with good speed, Keynan Parker (6-0, 180), one of the top young sprinters in Canada, Geno Munoz (6-0, 180), solid fundamental foundation to work with.