The Wide Receivers
September 1st – Southern Mississippi
Depth at the wide receiver position is one of Southern Mississippi’s main concerns heading into 2012. In order for this Golden Eagle offense to thrive come fall, senior WR Tracy Lampley will need to play out of his mind. USM will be without a proven quarterback, so the 5-foot 9-inch, 168-pound slot-receiver should be the go-to-guy for the likely starting QB Chris Campbell. Last year, Lampley caught 47 passes for 547 yards and four touchdowns while adding 463 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Last year, the pistol offense proved unsuccessful in almost every regard, especially in allowing the Bruins to display any sort of aerial attack. Now, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has restructured the offense to a spread attack and will be looking to utilize a group of talented yet unproven receivers.
Shaqulle Evans, a Notre Dame transfer, was Scout.com’s No. 12 ranked player in 2009. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Evans has a nice combination of speed, size and strength to go with a good pair of hands. What raises his stock for 2012 is his explosiveness with the ball in his hands and his threat as a downfield receiver, something that will be a valuable asset in the new spread attack.
Player: Josh Jarboe
Josh Jarboe, once a four-star recruit, squandered an opportunity to play at Oklahoma after an unflattering rap video hit youtube. Then, at Troy, Jarboe was let go. But now he apparently has his act together and is looking to make the most of his senior season. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Jarboe recorded 54 receptions for 730 yards and two touchdowns to in 2011 earn second team All-Sun Belt Conference honors. Jarboe moves very well and displays a combination of size, speed and elusiveness that makes him a tough matchup for opposing cornerbacks.
September 22nd – Idaho State
Player: Rodrick Rumble
Anthony Boyles was a member of the Washington Huskies when they hosted the Huskers back in 2010. Last year, as a member of the Bengals, Boyles had 31 catches for 336 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals’ major receiving threat will most likely be Rodrick Rumble, who finished the 2011 with the second most receiving yards in Idaho State history (1,348).
Player: Jared Abbrederis
Jared Abbrederis is the Big Ten’s best wide receiver coming into the 2012 season, and most Husker fans won't be denying this claim. In last year’s Big Ten opener, Abbrederis caught five passes for 95 yards and one touchdown while adding two carries for 23 yards against Nebraska. Without All-Big Ten second-team wide receiver Nick Toon, Abbrederis will be the Badgers main target this coming fall.
However, a major concern for the Badgers is how good the passing game will be without former star quarterback Russel Wilson and former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst? If Danny O’Brien can come in, hand the ball off, and make some key throws, Abbrederis should be set for another stellar season.
Player: Devin Smith
While the running ability of quarterback Braxton Miller will be the main concern for the Blackshirts on Oct. 06, the receiving ability of wide receiver Devin Smith should not be overlooked. Last year, Miller struggled throwing the bowl, but should benefit from a new offensive scheme under first-year head coach Urban Meyer. Smith should also benefit. His 6-foot-3 frame gives the Buckeyes a deep-ball threat and was one of the few players targeted down field last fall. His desire and ability to gobble up jump balls will surely make him Miller’s go-to-guy in 2012.
Player: Christian Jones
The 6-foot-3, 225 pound sophomore is the best option to replace 1,000 yard wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, that is if USC transfer Kyle Prater is not ruled eligible by the NCAA. Jones caught 16 passes and 195 yards in 2011 as a true freshman. A former three-star prospect out of high school, he has always showed a good combination of size and speed.
Player: Roy Roundtree
Roundtree made the 2011 Biletnikoff preseason watch list after a stellar 2010 season. However, he and Dennard Robinson never got in sync last season and his numbers plummeted as a result. There’s no question whether the 6-foot-1, 176-pound senior has the talent or not to produce big numbers; it’s more a factor of whether he and Robinson can reproduce numbers like they did in 2010. In fact, the joint effort of those two players - along with running back Fitz Touissant - could be the major factor that gives the Wolverines the edge in the Big Ten Legends division over Michigan State and Nebraska.
November 3rd – Michigan State
He may not be the biggest guy, and he certainly isn’t the strongest, but what DeAnthony Arnett lacks in size he makes up for in his overall explosiveness. Arnett was a highly touted receiver coming out of high school, ranked as the Scout.com No. 8 receiver in the class of 2011. He was an Army All-American standout and immediately broke into Tennessee's lineup immediately. Arnett should do the same at Michigan State, where he is already drawing comparisons to Keshawn Martin.
Player: Justin Brown
Justin Brown, the Scout.com No. 9 receiver in the class of 2009, has not lived up to expectations. In his three years at Penn State, Brown has only received three touchdowns and didn’t eclipse 100 yards in a single game last fall. The 2012 season will likely be the same situation. As Penn State’s No. 1 receiving threat - and without a solid No. 2 receiver - opposing teams will be able to make Brown the center of attention. However, it’s not fair to bring up Penn State’s receiving problems without discussing the dreadful quarterback situation. Pick your poison: Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden, or Paul Jones?
Player: Brandon Green
Last year, Green played in all 12 games and started only eight. He hauled in 15 receptions for 190 yards and one touchdown. His one touchdown came in a thrilling victory over the USC Trojans. Green was a highly-touted prospect who never really panned out, so his senior year could be his best.
Player: Keenan Davis
Thanks to Marvin McNutt hogging the headlines last fall, many fans outside of Hawkeye Nation may not recognize the name Keenan Davis. When the 2012 season is finished, Davis will likely be an All-Big Ten wide receiver and a name known all over the country. Standing at 6-feet-3, 195 pounds, Davis is the total package. Last year, Davis recorded 50 receptions for 713 yards and four touchdowns. He has great control of his body and gets himself in a good position to pull down tough passes. As James Vandenberg’s main target, Davis will have plenty of chances to prove his worth as a game-changer this coming fall.
J.C. Reid has interned for Big Red Report magazine and BigRedReport.com since December of 2011. He is currently a junior at UNL, studying Journalism.
- Josh Harvey -