NotesThe unquestioned leader of the receiving corps, Mickens had a relatively quiet spring from a production and big play standpoint, yet still caught four balls for a team-high 93 yards and one touchdown during Washington’s Spring Preview. He’s by far the most consistent receiver Washington has and will be counted on a ton this fall to lead the younger guys into battle.
NotesThe time is now for Hall to make hay with the talent he has. The last two springs he’s shown glimpses of the player he could be, yet last fall he finished with only six catches. But with Ross out for the season, he’s the main true speed threat to stretch the field. Mickens can do that, but Hall will most likely be asked to do it more.
NotesRoss was hurt during spring, and as a result will be forced to redshirt the 2015 season. Good thing he has a redshirt year available, as he played as a true frosh and sophomore. Ross will be missed as a deep threat, as well as in the return game.
Where does the receiver position find itself heading into fall camp?
Washington is searching for answers at the receiver position right now. Mickens is the one sure thing, having caught 60 passes in 2014, but even with him far out-distancing himself from the rest of the pack, returning receivers still only accounted for 35 percent of the Huskies total 2014 receptions.
Dante Pettis had 17 catches last year but came on strong during this past spring, finishing with six catches for 90 yards during their final practice. Pettis will have to be a factor this fall so that teams won’t be able to focus all their efforts on stopping Mickens.
After that, things get murky in a hurry. The combined catches for the rest of the scholarship players is 13 (7 for Brayden Lenius, 6 for Marvin Hall). And the loss of Ross kills them in the big play department; excluding him, the long catch for the entire receiver group is 54 yards. He led all receivers in yards per catch by nearly six yards (Pettis was next). And on top of all that, two of Washington’s incoming receivers - Nik Little and Andre Baccellia - played sparingly at their respective levels in 2014, so they’ll be further behind than most.
The Huskies will need to find to find ways to stretch the field consistently in order to open things up underneath. That’s where freshmen like Chico McClatcher and Andre Baccellia can use their speed to get vertical. Isaiah Renfro and Quinten Pounds are talented enough to contribute in 2015, but I’d be surprised if they had more than 15-20 catches apiece. If they do, it means they’ve adjusted to the college game quicker than anticipated.
Another piece to the puzzle that requires consideration is the walk-on factor. With nine scholarship players, it’s a bit nuts to think Washington will have eight walk-ons at their disposal - but will it matter? When is the last time a walk-on receiver was a legitimate presence? The last receiver I can remember that walked on and did damage was Dane Looker in the late 1990’s. That’s a LONG time ago. But with eight players looking to make their mark, the odds have to be that one helps out.
Could it be Max Richmond? The 5-foot-9 Bellevue product had four catches for 48 yards in Washington’s final spring practice. He continued to get better and better during spring, and while he’s not a big kid he plays with heart and determination. Drew Before is another walk-on that also caught four balls that day, and at 6 feet tall is a bigger force to deal with. John Gardner is 6-foot-3, as is new frosh walk-on Jamon Jones - so could they provide bigger targets for the Washington quarterbacks? There’s always the long-standing options in Taelon Parson and Neel Salukhe, who seem like they’ve been at UW for years.
Jaydon Mickens (5-11, 171, Sr.): It’s Mickens’ job this year to once again lead by example and show the younger receivers how it’s done. He’s caught 125 passes the last two years, second in school history when it comes to best two-year stretches to Reggie Williams. He won’t be able to carry the load all by himself, but he’s been a consistent performer since he stepped on campus and I expect he’ll again get anywhere from 60-70 catches in 2015
Marvin Hall (5-10, 187, Sr.): The second member of the Legion of Zoom, it’s now or never for Hall. This is his last shot to impress and do more than he has the last three seasons. Combined, Hall has 16 catches for 2013 yards. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet for Washington. Simply put, Hall has massively underachieved, but he can reverse that trend by having a breakout season this fall. And given the thin state of quality depth throughout the Washington receiving corps, it’s imperative Hall imposes himself - whether picking up the slack when Mickens is being targeted, or using that LOZ speed as a weapon in the same way Ross would.
Nik Little (6-5, 210, Jr.): With only one returning ‘big’ receiver in Brayden Lenius, the Huskies were crying out for another one to help create mismatches - especially in the red zone. Enter juco wideout Nik Little, a 6-foot-5 athlete who UW was able to pick up late because he flew under the recruiting radar - mostly because he only played two games in 2014 due to injury. Obviously Little will be rusty on the field, and he’ll be playing playbook catchup the moment he stepped on campus - but it’s vital he get up to speed as soon as possible. Lenius can’t be the only tall receiving option the UW quarterbacks have at their disposal.
Dante Pettis (6-0, 183, So.): It’s fair to say that Dante Pettis is now Washington’s second receiver. He caught the second-most passes for the second-most yards, and he did nothing to shy away from that title in spring, where he caught the most passes of anyone during their last practice. He will need to continue to develop his all-around receiving game so he can’t be pigeonholed as just a player that takes short passes and gets yards after the catch. The Huskies really need to find ways to make plays in the intermediate-to-long passing game, and that’s a place where Pettis can have success if his evolution as a receiver is on track.
Brayden Lenius (6-5, 217, So.): Lenius has perhaps the most to prove this fall, outside of Marvin Hall. At 6-foot-5, the former British Columbia native showed at times in 2014 that he can be a big weapon for the Huskies - especially in ‘jump ball’ situations down the field. But with only seven catches last year, many Washington fans may look back and wonder if those catches were worth burning a season of eligibility. They were worth it, but only if Lenius takes that natural step from year one to year two and becomes the big possession receiver Washington desperately requires.
Chico McClatcher (5-8, 180, Fr.): With only nine scholarship receivers available for the 2015 season, it’s imperative that the true freshmen handle their share of the workload. That may only be 60-80 catches during the entire year, but it’ll add up in the end - especially if they can come up clutch in the big moments. McClatcher is the one true frosh from the area, Federal Way, and he’s been a bit of a recruiting legend for the last three or four years. His blend of size, speed, pure football ability, and game-breaking potential has made him a high school crowd favorite. If Chico can adapt quickly to the speed of the college game, he will do well. He’s already shown what he’s capable of with the ball in his hands, and he’s like having another running back on the field.
Andre Baccellia (5-9, 165, Fr.): Baccellia only played in a handful of games for Westlake High in southern California, but UW Receivers Coach Brent Pease had seen enough during his junior season to warrant a scholarship. He’s roughly the same size as McClatcher, has the same kind of wheels, and can get separation. Much like Hall, Baccellia is most likely going to be asked to get upfield and look for vertical routes where he can exploit mismatches against slower corners and safeties. McClatcher is more of a yards-after-catch player, whereas Baccellia is going to try and make his money down the field.
Isaiah Renfro (6-1, 185 Fr.): Averaging 22.4 yards per catch last season for Sierra Canyon High in Chatsworth, Calif., Renfro is the prototypical big-game receiver - one the Huskies haven’t had in an out-of-state player in many, many years. With over 1300 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, Renfro was a high-output performer - exactly the kind of prospect Pease can quickly develop like he did with Dante Pettis last season.
Quinten Pounds (5-11, 166, Fr.): With a 6-foot-8 high jump, Pounds projects to be in the Kasen Williams/Jermaine Kearse mold. He’s not nearly as physical as Williams, but he has the hops; he’s not quite as big as Kearse, but he has a knack for making the hard play look easy. He’s sneaky fast, meaning he’s got that languid stride that might make you think he’s not going as fast as he is. I expect Pounds will be asked to be a possession receiver to start, trying to earn his yards in the short to intermediate zones.
Projected Fall WR Depth Chart
SLOT: Jaydon Mickens (5-11, 171, Sr.)
Chico McClatcher (5-8, 180, Fr.) OR
Andre Baccellia (5-9, 165, Fr.)
WR: Brayden Lenius (6-5, 217, So.)
Nik Little (6-5, 210, Jr.) OR
Isaiah Renfro (6-1, 185 Fr.)
WR: Dante Pettis (6-0, 183, So.)
Marvin Hall (5-10, 187, Sr.)
Quinten Pounds (5-11, 166, Fr.)