So far we’ve previewed three offensive position groups in quarterback, running back, and tight end. The fourth installment takes us to another position with question marks swirling around it, and that’s wide receiver.
Despite a veteran presence, receiver still wasn’t as productive as it needed to be last season. Juniors Jonathon Alston and Bra’lon Cherry saw slight decreases in production, catching 40 balls and one touchdown between the two of them. Junior Jumichael Ramos (Ramos is now out for the year) returned to his freshman season form by leading all wide receivers with 34 catches and making a few highlight reel grabs throughout the year. He was inconsistent though, catching one or zero passes in 6 of 13 games. Alston has since moved to defense and State will be looking for some of the younger players and new recruits to step up and fill the voids at wide receiver.
Stephen Louis, Maurice Trowell, and Nyheim Hines are all entering their second year of game action and are probably the top candidates to have breakout seasons. Louis and Trowell are redshirt sophomores and Hines is a true sophomore. Louis caught a touchdown in his second career game, but the injury bug forced him to redshirt last season. He’s a bigger guy at 6’2", 215, so he’s physically the type of player that State has made a point of adding at wide receiver. He caught 5 balls in this year’s spring game, which was good for second most behind fellow redshirt sophomore Maurice Trowell. Trowell showed some deep threat ability last season with touchdown catches of 59 and 83 yards. He only caught 12 passes but was probably the closest thing the Pack had to a deep ball guy on the roster.
Hines came into his freshman campaign with the unfair expectation of replacing Bo Hines, who transferred to Yale to become the president. There were issues with how the offense used his skillset and in the end he didn’t have the season offensively that many had hoped. He did earn freshman All-American honors as a kick returner though. Hines is listed as a running back on the gopack roster right now, which is where he finished last season after all the injuries. I’d expect him to be receiving the ball in a multitude of different ways. He has so much superstar potential that it’s hard to see him not having a big year.
State added three receivers in this year’s recruiting class, with Kelvin Harmon being the top new guy and most likely to see the field early. Harmon fits the bill for what State wants size wise at 6’2", 215 and also what State wants skill wise because he is good. I know you all appreciate my in-depth scouting and analysis.
The Pack also bring in true freshmen C.J. Riley and Daeshawn Stephens. Riley is extremely tall at 6’5". He possesses an ability to make catches in coverage, as you’d probably expect from a guy that tall, and also has impressive speed for a tall guy. Riley is super skinny though at 188 pounds. He’s 9 inches taller than Nyheim Hines but listed at 9 pounds lighter. That’s pretty skinny. Obviously he’ll need to add some bulk to his frame.
State didn’t hit on its top two wide receiver targets in the 2016 class, but they pulled in two quality prospects and a sleeper in Stephens that fit the type of player they badly needed.
Ben Grazen and Gavin Locklear are back for their redshirt junior seasons. Both were put on scholarship prior to last season and Locklear had some positive things said about him going into the year. He caught 7 passes for 75 yards.
Brian Sessoms is the last guy I’m going to talk about and he might be my favorite player on the whole team, even though he hasn’t played a down. The redshirt freshman is small but probably the fastest guy on the whole team. He won a state championship in track in four different events and consistently ran 40 yard dash times under 4.3. It’s tough to predict where or if he will make an impact this season, but I’m dying to see him on the field.
A trend is starting to appear on offense and that’s quality talent that’s young and unproven. It’s no different at wide receiver with guys like Harmon, Louis, Trowell and others who have yet to make a major impact on offense. A lot of these guys will have to step up to help a position that as a whole struggled last season.