POST-SPRING BREAKDOWN: Wide receivers

CORVALLIS -- With two of the starting receivers from last season lost to graduation and a third being held out of spring contact drills at Oregon State, some were expecting a considerable drop off during the spring session. Instead, three players smartly emerged as clear starters and the depth behind them proved to be on an upswing. But it wasn't all roses for the receiving group this spring.

The injury bug bit on the Oregon State receiving corps, but without too large of an effect as the positional depth proved strong throughout the spring.

Junior wideout James Rodgers joined his brother Jacquizz in non-contact drills but was held out of scrimmages and the spring game. Likewise for junior Kyle Brown, he was held out of all practices throughout the spring while recovering from an Achilles' injury.

Brown is expected to be ready by the start of fall camp, but it remains to be seen whether he can carve out his place on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Kaulin Krebs was one of the few Oregon State players who suffered long term injuries during spring practices. Krebs injured his knee in the third week but is expected to be ready by the beginning of fall camp.

After the losses of Shane Morales and Sammie Stroughter to the NFL, it was the Darrell Catchings show through the month, the receiver quickly becoming the favorite target of quarterback Sean Canfield.

It's easy to forget now but the junior wideout was rather cold in the beginning stages of spring, with some drops that had fans on the sideline shaking their heads. Catchings heated up quickly, however, and blew up in the team's first officiated scrimmage of the month, bringing in six receptions for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Catchings was brought back down to earth in the spring game by the secondary, bringing in only three receptions for 47 yards in limited playing time.

Catchings is an athlete, there is no doubt about that. There were still clear lapses of concentration for the wideout throughout the spring, but with his speed and versatility, he should be a viable weapon for the Oregon State offense this fall.

THE MOST SURPRISING wide receiver throughout the month was redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop -- the speed and agility of Bishop displayed is matched only by Rodgers among the OSU receivers.

The wideout from West Salem High, who was originally going to grayshirt last season but who joined the team and was redshirted instead, was impressive in each and every practice, showing good route running, tremendous speed, and a playmaking ability to make the catch when it mattered.

There were numerous occasions this spring where Bishop would simply outrun the defense, and his five reception, 95 yard, one touchdown performance during the spring game saw some of that.

Fellow redshirt freshman Geno Munoz was equally impressive at times, he showed good hands and route running. Munoz looks to have a chance to make a splash at Oregon State.

THE ONLY TWO senior wideouts on the roster, Damola Adeniji and Taylor Kavanaugh, both had productive springs.

Adeniji, a senior walk-on with only one reception in his career at OSU, is one of the bigger targets that Oregon State quarterbacks have had in recent memory. His combination of size, athleticism and dependable hands may help him get on the field more in 2009.

Kavanaugh also has one reception to his name in his OSU career. He is expected to put time in at the punt return position. With Kavanaugh, one of his top attributes is his ability to make cuts, and he appears to be one of the better route runners on the squad.

The three remaining juniors have a total of two catches for 15 yards between their names but one of them is a likely starter who had a solid spring.

Split back Casey Kjos looks to have a solid grasp on the starting position, displaying immaculate hands throughout the spring and precise route running.

The 6-foot-2 Kjos finished out the spring with a four reception for 50 yard performance.

Kjos' high school teammate, Shawn McGarity, like Nichols, has a chance to play on special teams but size and strength is an issue for the 5-10 junior receiver. McGarity, like former OSU star Mike Hass, has solid hands and decent speed but will be hard pressed to push for time. Redshirt junior Aaron Nichols, who played in four games last year, practiced mainly with the second and third string offense. The Honolulu native could also make an impact on special teams but with the depth and emergence of other wideouts, Nichols will also be hard pressed to vie for playing time.

IT IS CLEAR and obvious that going into fall camp, Darrell Catchings, James Rodgers and Casey Kjos are the starting wide receivers.

There are always plenty of questions for any position group but perhaps the main ones to be answered for the receivers are how the remaining pieces will fall into place for the depth, who will continue to emerge and whether or not the injury bug will stick around will remain a factor come this fall.


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