USA Today

Spring Position Preview - Receivers

Washington fans are having to get used to the annual coaching carousel that comes from a staff with desirable coaches in it. So it shouldn’t have come as a total surprise to see Bush Hamdan move to the NFL.

What was surprising is that it happened after only a year as the Huskies’ Receivers Coach, albeit a very productive year for UW in that regard. 

So out goes Hamdan, and in comes Matt Lubick, a coach with a lot of west coast ties and a reputation for being a monster recruiter. 

But how is he as a receivers coach? 

Lubick has spent the majority of his time in the Pac-12 at Arizona State and the last four years at Oregon. He was named the footballscoop.com National Receivers Coach of the Year in 2012 during his three-year stint at Duke. 

While at Oregon, here are some of the receivers recruited there during Lubick’s tenure (national position rank in parentheses): Tyree Robinson (#17), Darren Carrington (#37), Devon Allen (#16), Jalen Brown (#7), Alex Ofodile (#10), Malik Lovette (#27), Dillon Mitchell (#26), and Tristen Wallace (#5). 

So it’s well-established he can recruit. But how did those receivers do?

Oregon was second in the Pac-12 last year in total offense and fifth in pass offense with a true freshman quarterback for a majority of their season. The Ducks were second in pass efficiency and Charles Nelson was 11th in the league in receptions per game. 

Lubick had two receivers with more than 40 catches a game - Nelson and Carrington, and they combined for 1160 yards and 10 touchdowns. Even taking away Ross’s 17 touchdowns, Lubick has 20 touchdowns coming back in Dante Pettis (15) and Chico McClatcher (5). 

——————————————————————

Receivers (by year) 

Dante Pettis (6-1, 192, Sr.)

K.J. Young (6-1, 188, Sr.)

Nik Little (6-5, 207, Sr.)

Forrest Dunivin (6-4, 200, Sr.)*

Chico McClatcher (5-7, 179, Jr.)

Brayden Lenius (6-5, 234, Jr.)

John Gardner (6-3, 187, Jr.)*

Max Richmond (5-9, 181, Jr.)*

Aaron Fuller (5-10, 186, So.) 

Quinten Pounds (5-11, 183, So.)

Andre Baccellia (5-10, 173, So.)

Josh Rasmussen (5-11, 182, So.)*

Paul Wells (5-9, 170, So.)*

Jordan Chin (6-0, 165, RFr.)

Ty Jones (6-4, 206, Fr.)

——————————————————————

Projected Spring Depth Chart 

Receiver

Aaron Fuller (5-10, 186, So.) 

Quinten Pounds (5-11, 183, So.)

K.J. Young (6-1, 188, Sr.)

Nik Little (6-5, 207, Sr.)

Josh Rasmussen (5-11, 182, So.)*

Receiver 

Dante Pettis (6-1, 192, Sr.)

Brayden Lenius (6-5, 234, Jr.)

Ty Jones (6-4, 206, Fr.)

Forrest Dunivin (6-4, 200, Sr.)*

John Gardner (6-3, 187, Jr.)*

Slot

Chico McClatcher (5-7, 179, Jr.)

Andre Baccellia (5-10, 173, So.)

Jordan Chin (6-0, 165, RFr.)

Max Richmond (5-9, 181, Jr.)*

Paul Wells (5-9, 170, So.)*

* = walk-on

——————————————————————

Dante Pettis (6-1, 192, Sr.)

With Ross's departure, the Huskies will lean heavily on Pettis to be their go-to receiver. The second-team All-Pac-12 performer caught 53 passes for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns. Usually those kind of numbers would lead a team, but not one that had a superstar like Ross on it. But the spotlight will now be squarely on Pettis. With a 39-inch vertical and sub-6.75 three-cone test at UW's Combine Day, Dante showed he's in shape and ready to attack spring.

K.J. Young (6-1, 188, Sr.)

The Oklahoma transfer played in five games in 2016, including wins at Oregon and California, but never materialized as an impact player. With John Ross gone and Young a year older in UW's system, there should be more opportunities for K.J. to make his mark and find a niche in Jonathan Smith's offense. 

Nik Little (6-5, 207, Sr.)

After playing in four games in 2015, the former JC player didn't play at all last year and generally has been one of the team's biggest mysteries. He has the size and the athleticism but hasn't put anything together. 

Forrest Dunivin (6-4, 200, Sr.)*

Dunivin has always had the size and athleticism (a recent 39-inch vertical jump), but hasn't been able to break through. He has not seen any game action so far as a Husky.  

Chico McClatcher (5-7, 179, Jr.) 

Chico had basically the same season as 2015 rushing the ball but made dramatic strides as a receiver, catching 574 yards' worth of passes for five touchdowns - and this was during a season where John Ross and Dante Pettis set a Pac-12 record for combined touchdowns. He was underrated as a big-play receiver, catching passes at a rate of 18.5 yards per ball. 

Brayden Lenius (6-5, 234, Jr.)

Lines was supposed to be a factor last season as UW's 'big' receiver, but was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 for an unspecified violation of team rules, and eventually redshirted the entire year. So he comes into the spring a real wild card after starting six games in 2015 as a true sophomore, catching 26 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Can he provide similar numbers this fall? If so, it should be considered a successful season. 

John Gardner (6-3, 187, Jr.)*

Gardner is one of the few walk-ons that has seen game time, playing in seven games the last two seasons and catching one pass against Idaho last year. With good size, John has proven to be a valuable asset as a scout receiver. 

Max Richmond (5-9, 181, Jr.)*

Richmond, who prepped at Bellevue High, is back for his fourth season at UW. He played in six games in 2015, but hasn't seen any other game action since. 

Aaron Fuller (5-10, 186, So.)

The son of a coach, Fuller came in as a true freshman and provided some valuable cover for the veterans, catching 16 passes for 184 yards and two scores as he played in every game. He caught two balls for 27 yards in the Peach Bowl. That kind of experience should pay dividends as Fuller takes the next step in his development this spring. 

Quinten Pounds (5-11, 183, So.)

The sophomore enters his third year at Montlake poised to make an impact. His blazing 6.55 three-cone test at UW's recent Combine day was nearly .15 faster than the rest of the team. He's ready to go. Pounds caught six passes in 2016 for 86 yards and one score, so he should be motivated to bump those numbers up in a big way. The chances will be there for him to do just that. 

Andre Baccellia (5-10, 173, So.)

Baccellia started to come to life a year ago, and his spring campaign offered up signs of life for the redshirt frosh. He finished 2016 with seven catches for 98 yards and one touchdown versus Rutgers. With a 4.39 40 at UW's recent Combine Day, Baccellia is primed for another strong spring. Will it lead to an even larger role in the Huskies' offense this fall? Only time will tell. 

Josh Rasmussen (5-11, 182, So.)*

The son of Washington CAO Rich Rasmussen, Josh hasn't played yet for Washington after redshirting in 2015 and not seeing any game time in 2016. 

Paul Wells (5-9, 170, So.)*

Known more as a running back during his days at Newport High, Wells was an explosive athlete in high school. Given his size and reputation, it's expected Wells will get his first shot in the purple and gold at slot. 

Jordan Chin (6-0, 165, RFr.)

Chin gained six pounds in the off-season while redshirting, and he needed every pound. Still very slight, it may be another year before it's fair to expect him to contribute. He has some speed and was a late signee two years ago, so where is he in his development right now? Spring will go a long way toward answering that question. 

Ty Jones (6-4, 206, Fr.)

The U.S. Army All-American comes in with a lot of fanfare. He played well on the national stage, and he's a big, athletic body - so that's always going to get the fans' attention. He graduated early to get up to UW in time for spring football, his eyes firmly set on contributing this fall. What's a realistic expectation? Well, Jones caught 63 passes for over 1500 yards and 20 touchdowns as a high school senior, so even a quarter of those numbers would be quite remarkable - although I think it's probably unrealistic for Jones to average over 24 yards a catch his first year in college. 

——————————————————————

Where does the receiver group stand heading into spring?

Losing John Ross was always going to be a big blow to this unit, but losing Bush Hamdan could have been just as big. With Chris Petersen adding Matt Lubick to coach the receivers right away softened much of the blow, but Ross is definitely not coming back.

The Huskies suffered another loss, as walk-on Connor Griffin, once a Gonzaga Basketball player, is not on the spring roster. Always an intriguing athlete, Griffin only made one catch in two years, so it’s a loss that won’t register.  

Pettis and McClatcher will now take over as the clear leaders of the group, followed by Fuller, Baccellia and Pounds. There’s going to be three ‘wild card’ players that could determine whether or not the Huskies can come close to replicating 2016’s prodigious output: K.J. Young, Brayden Lenius, and Ty Jones. 

Young is a total enigma. He killed it at Oklahoma his true freshman year and hasn’t been able to reproduce it since. Can Lubick unlock the mystery? Now that Young has had a year at Montlake to get used to everything, has he settled in to the point where he can find his role on the team?

Lenius is a known quantity when he’s focused. But he hasn’t played since the end of the 2015 season, so who knows which Lenius we will see this spring. If the 2015 Lenius emerges, that would be a big boost. 

Jones is the most fascinating player of the group coming in just because no one really knows what he’s capable of doing at the college level. What we do know is what he’s done at the high school stage, and he was very, very good there. Fans have to love his size, and as we saw with Taylor Rapp last year big things can come when a true freshman makes it on campus early and gets an extra spring under their belt. 

Overall, this group has plenty to prove in April because of a new coach and players that will have to step up to help recreate the 2016 receiver numbers in the aggregate. And maybe those numbers aren’t realistic, but it’s up to Matt Lubick and the group leaders to get that done. 

It’s a strange dynamic when you have two seniors that haven’t had one combined catch in their careers between them, so it’s going to be up to some younger players to move to the head of the line and assert themselves and take advantage of their opportunities right now. 


Dawgman.com Top Stories