We're just sixteen days away from the season-opener against East Carolina in Charlotte and Steve Spurrier Jr. still isn't quite sure who's going to be out on the field at the receiver position. It's certainly not a bad thing. There's just so many to choose from.
"All of a sudden I say six guys and everyone wants to know who the six are," Spurrier Jr. said following Thursday's practice. "I might have to go back to twelve guys."
Though obviously joking with the comment, it's really not that far-fetched to believe that. Of course you have All-American and Sports Illustrated cover-boy Alshon Jeffery on the field, but then you have a large group of players battling it out for the other positions.
There's some height and experience in Jason Barnes and D.L. Moore who were the other starting receivers in the post-spring depth chart. Both have had solid fall camps and have shown that they aren't willing to just hand over their starting spot to anyone. Lamar Scruggs is behind Jeffery and also brings some height and build at 6-3, 226 pounds.
DeAngelo Smith made some noise with his showing at the spring game and has continued to play well in the fall as he, along with Nick Jones, battle with Moore for playing time.
Then you have the speedsters. Ace Sanders returns for his sophomore season after an average freshman season in 2010. He and newcomer redshirt freshman Bruce Ellington are very similar players.
"Bruce Ellington is on the inside in the slot with Ace," Spurrier Jr said. "You can tell the little things he's a little unrefined at. I tell him he looks a little bit like Ace did last year. Ace this year is twice the player just because he knows what he's doing and can run full speed. Bruce you can tell is not at full speed yet because he's not sure of exactly everything that's going on. He's a talented young man and has a great personality to play the game. He's going to be fine and I'm impressed with him."
The newcomer that has garnered the most praise is Damiere Byrd. Byrd, the fastest player on the team, has made big plays every day he has been out on the field, including an 80-yard touchdown reception in Wednesday night's scrimmage.
"His progress hasn't been great - he showed up pretty good," Spurrier Jr laughed. "The first day he was out there he was good. He ran well, cut well, caught well, he's physical, he's tough, he's intelligent. He's impressive, he really is. For a guy that's skinny and fast he does a lot of good things at wide receiver. He'll find his way onto the field."
A receiver who has made strides in the last week has been K.J. Brent. Brent, who was expected to take a redshirt, has played like someone who expects to be on the field every game. He has thrown his name into the mix for playing time.
Now you see the problem Spurrier Jr. faces.
"Alshon gets most of the publicity," Spurrier Jr said. "We have a good group and they all know that. They also realize they have to battle each other. We haven't done anything. We've got a good group but we haven't proven much as a wide receiver core. I have a mature group - they're kind of tough and want to stay out (after practice) and get better. They want to battle with each other and also want to help each other. I expect them to perform well this year."
It's going to be tough for Spurrier Jr. to decide who's going to play but he's got himself a great problem.
"It'll just depend week to week," Spurrier Jr. said. "I won't practice nine, but we may have nine out there. We've got a smart group so we'll be fine. It's a good problem to have. I've had years in the past where I've had one good player and ten that weren't very good."
Wide receiver battles continue
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