Finding WSU WR firepower outside the Big 3

FOR ALL THE hype surrounding Washington State’s “big three” receivers, consider this: nearly 60 percent of WSU's receptions last season came from players not among the team’s top three pass catchers. That means unsung types like Robert Lewis, Tyler Baker and Calvin Green will be as key to the Cougs' offensive fortunes in 2015 as high-profile Dom Williams, River Cracraft and Gabe Marks.

The Big Three bring a collective 349 career catches into the 2015 campaign and will no doubt shoulder much of the play-making void created by the graduation losses of Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers. The M & M duo set the pace for the Cougar receiving corps last season, racking up a combined 184 catches, 2,455 yards and 21 TDs.

If the season began tomorrow, odds are you’d see a starting set of receivers that looked like this:

Williams at the X
Cracraft at the Y
Marks at the Z, and
Lewis at the H.

As a second-year freshman last season, Lewis quietly pulled in 41 receptions for 378 yards and two TDs.

Immediately behind that starting four would be Daniel Lilienthal, Baker, Green (pictured above) and John Thompson.

Of that second group, Baker is the most seasoned. The one-time walk came on strong late last season when Cracraft was dinged up and finished the year with 27 receptions for 308 yards and two TDs. Look for he and Cracraft to fill the third-down-security blanket, possession-receiver type role.

Green, a true freshman in 2014, appeared in the first seven games of the season and collected 13 catches for 68 yards and no touchdowns. Thompson, a walk on, played in three games and caught one pass, while Lilienthal, also a walk on, didn’t play in a game but subsequently turned in a very solid spring season.

Green, though, is a guy with special intrigue due to a blend of speed and skill that landed him double-digit offers in the 2014 recruiting cycle. If there’s a breakout player among WSU receivers in 2015, he’d have to be the odds-on-favorite along with second-year freshman Barry Ware.

Two other returning wideouts, both inside receivers, will enter fall camp with less fanfare: Brett Bartolone and Zaire Andre. Bartolone, a fourth-year junior, has battled injuries since a standout freshman season while Zaire, a second-year freshman, hasn't created as much of a practice buzz as have the other young pass catchers.

NEW TO THE WIDEOUT MIX THIS fall will be C.J. Dimry, Tavares Martin and Kyle Sweet. Dimry, the son of former NFL player Charles Dimry, is a 6-foot-5 JC transfer who averaged 20.8 yards on 26 receptions last season. He's a late bloomer who can go up high to get balls. Sweet caught 89 passes as a prep senior in 2014. And Martin, a late addition to the recruiting class, has been turning heads this summer in 7-on-7 drills.

Look for all three to make a strong push for the Cougars’ rotation.

Back on Signing Day in February, WSU recruiting coordinator Dave Emerick said Dimry and Sweet looked like guys who would compete for immediate playing time.

THE RUNNING BACKS WILL ALSO PROVIDE key firepower to the Cougar passing attack. Third-year sophomores Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks and second-year freshman Keith Harrington look to share the load in the backfield but Morrow comes in with big-time pass-catching bona fides. Last season he finished fourth on the team in receptions (61) and fifth in receiving yards (460), while Wicks posted 16 receptions for 76 yards.

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