Fall Camp Preview: Wide Receivers
UTSA had good production from their wide receiving corps in 2015. With the additions of several dynamic players, sky is the limit for this position group in 2016. But how will the new players mesh with the returning players in a new offensive scheme?
- Kenny Bias: Graduated. Played a key role in UTSA’s offense during his career, was hampered by injuries last season.
- Aaron Grubb: Graduated. Despite his size, Grubb made key contributions to both UTSA’s offense and special teams the last few years.
- Derrick Dick: Was expected to be a key contributor on special teams but transferred to Sam Houston State over the summer to be closer to his family.
- Kerry Thomas Jr: One of UTSA’s top overall returning players, Thomas has established himself as a solid division one wide receiver. He’s big, runs good routes, and has decent hands. Statistically, Thomas is UTSA’s top returning receiver coming off a 2015 season that saw him catch 52 passes for 541 yards with four touchdowns. He is poised for a big season in 2016 and is listed as starting Z receiver.
- Dannon Cavil: A transfer from Oklahoma, the San Antonio-native sat out all of 2015 due to NCAA regulations. A former 3-star recruit out of high school, Cavil is a big target at 6’3” and 205lbs. He’s also fast with 4.4-4.5 speed. Cavil is listed as backup X receiver.
- Greg Campbell Jr: Another speedster on the roster who possesses legit 4.4 speed. A former high school quarterback, Campbell is a versatile athlete that could become a playmaker for the ‘Runners. He’s listed as backup to Kerry Thomas at the WR (Z) position.
- Matt Guidry: A former RB who signed with UTSA as part of the 2015 recruiting class. Redshirted last season.
- Aron Taylor: A star from Warren High School in San Antonio, Taylor could emerge as one of the vocal leaders on the team as he enters his junior season. He’s played in spot situations the last two seasons while seeing time on special teams. But with a big body, strong hands, and a physical route-running ability, Taylor will be battling to see more action is a reserve role.
- Peyton Hall: Another local star, Hall joined UTSA from Brandeis High School as part of their 2015 recruiting class. The speedy wideout played in a handful of games last season as a true freshman. Hall has the rare combination of speed and refined routing running. It would not be a surprise to see Hall work himself into the rotation as a true sophomore.
- JaBryce Taylor: UTSA’s starting X wide receiver, Taylor enters 2016 as one of UTSA’s more dynamic weapons. At 6’2” and 220lbs, Taylor is UTSA biggest wideout on the roster. Taylor uses his size to his advantage. One of his biggest strengths may be his hands as Taylor often over-powers defensive backs when fighting for passes. A native of East Texas, Taylor mirrors his game after Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (Bryant and Taylor attended the same high school in Lufkin). Taylor played in all 12 games last season catching 29 passes for 472 yards with three touchdowns.
- Brady Jones: An under-the-radar type of a player, Jones is a walk-on who played primarily on special teams last season. He had a good spring and is listed as back H wide receiver.
- Blaze Moorhead: A grey shirt signee from the 2014 recruiting class who redshirted in 2015.
- Marquez McNair: The nephew of former NFL player Steve McNair, Marquez was one of UTSA’s top recruits from the 2016 recruiting class as a 3-star Juco from Hinds JC in Mississippi. Originally committed to Southern Miss, McNair comes to UTSA with the intentions of being able to contribute immediately. At 6’0” and 180lbs, McNair is one of more dynamic athletes on the roster. He has three years of eligibility remaining to play two seasons. He is listed as UTSA’s starting H wide receiver.
- Jesse Ebozue: A 3-star recruit that also signed as a part of the 2016 recruiting class, Ebozue graduated from high school in December and enrolled at UTSA in January. He participated in spring practices. He is a candidate for a redshirt.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Marquez McNair and Dannon Cavil. A lot will be expected from Kerry Thomas and JaBryce Taylor. But those two returning players have known skillsets and have shown the ability to produce. Cavil and McNair are variables. Both are dynamic players but both enter 2016 with question marks. Is Cavil ready to produce after not seeing the playing field in more than a year? Will McNair, who enrolled at UTSA earlier in the summer, be able to hit the ground by picking up on the playbook? The emergence of either one or both of these players could be a large indicator for UTSA’s offensive success.
1. Are there enough passes to go around? There’s a lot of talent on UTSA’s roster at the WR position. Can UTSA get the ball to everyone enough? In a perfect world, the answer would be yes. Even by design you would want a balance attack. But we saw last season that opposing defenses began to shade coverage to certain receivers. And don’t’forget that UTSA also has a 1,000 yard rusher on the roster. So how UTSA will be able to make various offensive adjustments will certainly be something to watch.
2. Will we still see shorts passes? Since UTSA’s inception, the offense consisted of short passing plays, WR sweeps/reverses, and WR screen plays. One could argue that offense was largely unsuccessfully due to the offensive struggles of the last two seasons. Will these types of plays remain a part of the game plan? If so, how are they changed or modified so that there is more success. Based on spring practices, it doesn’t seem like we’ll see a like of lateral-type plays but it does seem like the short pass plays will be in the mix.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Connect on long passing plays. For several seasons, UTSA has struggled to make the connection on deep passing plays. Head Coach Frank Wilson is on the record saying his offense will take shots down the field. This group of wide outs will need to be able haul in those intermediate-to-long pass plays in order to be successful.
WR (X) Starter: JaBryce Taylor
WR (X) Backup: Dannon Cavil
WR (Z) Starter: Kerry Thomas Jr.
WR (Z) Backup: Greg Campbell
WR (H) Marquez McNair
WR (H) Brady Jones