An Early Look At 2014: Wide Receivers

We break down what to expect from the wide receiver position next year!

Wide Receivers

Returning: Der'rikk Thompson (RS Sr.), Jeremiah Gaines (So.), Darius Joseph (Jr.), Stephen Nelson (RS Sr.), Aaron Stafford (Jr.), Daijuan Stewart (So.), JaBryce Taylor (So.), Jack Neuheisel (RS Fr.), Nate Halverson (So.), Deion Sanders Jr. (So.), Kyle Guinyard (RS Sr.), Arrius Holleman (RS Jr.), J'Marcus Rhodes (RS Fr.), Marco Barrientos (RS. Soph.), Anthony Buffini (RS. Soph.), Everett Dickerson (RS. Fr), Cedric Lancaster (RS Fr.)

Coming in: Kadeem Goulbourne, Jordan Ingram and Shelby Walker

Leaving: Keenan Holman, Marcus Holyfield, Jeremy Johnson and Ryan Walker

2013 Takeaways: Jeremy Johnson was great for SMU even if his production fell with Neal Burcham at quarterback, but the surprise of the season was Keenan Holman. Holman was SMU's other 1,000-yard receiver and was a big-play threat for Garrett Gilbert, averaging over 15 yards per catch. Another player that stepped up early this season was Darius Joseph, who after totaling just 144 yards in the last four games, will need to be more consistent even though Joseph was second on the team in receptions. Der'rikk Thompson continued to show occasional flashes of big play ability, but again had a quiet year as SMU fans continue to wait for a breakout year. JaBryce Taylor was also impressive with his limited chances, leading the team in yards per catch at over 18 yards per catch. Taylor, at times, stood as a punt returner and could be the most explosive SMU receiver next year.

2014 Outlook: Joseph will return as the top receiver for SMU, but it will be interesting to see if he has the best season. Joseph was great for Gilbert at being a safety valve for him and will look to bring more big plays to the offense from the slot. SMU went vertical more later in the year so watch for the slots to be involved with that more in 2014 than 2103.

Taylor is one of the most explosive players on the team and with his size and an offseason to get bigger and stronger, he should be poised for a strong year for SMU. Taylor only had seven receptions for 127 yards and caught passes only against Texas A&M and Rutgers, but there is little doubt that Taylor has the skillset to be a good one for SMU. As he learns the intricacies of the SMU routes, he will be able to create even more separation and have a great 2014 season.

At the Y position, Jeremiah Gaines and Deion Sanders Jr. will likely battle for playing time and the staff should use Gaines more next year to help in the running game and as an outlet for Burcham as the staff will likely toy with the SMU offense to better suit Burcham's skill set. Gaines and Sanders Jr. are very different players of course, but Gaines' athletic ability and size makes him a target that just has to see the field more in 2014.

At Z, Thompson will likely be the starter unless one of the freshmen or Stephen Nelson can make a huge push in the offseason for his spot. Even though Thompson needs to be more productive, he has elite speed and everyone is just waiting for the day that he breaks out and produces.

Bold Prediction: Taylor makes a postseason All-AAC team and Gaines gets more reps, starts and produces more at Y than Sanders Jr.

Projected Depth Chart

X1. Der'rikk Thompson

X2. Stephen Nelson

H1. Darius Joseph

H2. Cedric Lancaster/Nate Halverson

Y1. Jeremiah Gaines

Y2. Deion Sanders, Jr.

Z1. JaBryce Taylor

Z2. Kadeem Goulbourne

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