Today on our RCT preseason position breakdowns is the area of the team that is probably the biggest strength beyond the quarterback spot. There are proven starters, solid backups and some seriously talented newcomers when looking at the receivers and the position looks to be in good hands for years to come.
Starting things off we'll take a look at a Jayhawk who draws praise from nearly everyone for his team first attitude in Kerry Meier. .
Meier came on to the scene slowly in his redshirt sophomore season after Todd Reesing had won the quarterback battle and taken Lawrence by storm in 2007. The buzz amongst the fans was that this move to receiver would be a gimick role and one that had the potential to make for difficult game planning. What happened though was a different reality. His 26 receptions for 275 yards while never practicing at the position showed that Meier was more than a decoy or gimmick, he might just be a player at the position.
Fast forward to 2008 and you have a Bilitnekoff finalist that finished with 97 receptions for 1024 yards and 8 touchdowns, all of course while fairly badly hobbled much of the season. Meier became Mr. third down converting a extraordinary number of the Jayhawks third downs with key receptions and he also caught a pretty important 4th down pass late in November.
Next in line and the more flashy player in the receiving corps is Dezmon Briscoe. Despite some reported problems in the offseason you can expect Briscoe to make his way onto the field come opening day I would suspect. I can tell you with a great amount of confidence that this has a high probability of being his last season in a Jayhawk uniform and if the junior can put up numbers the way he has in his first two seasons, I can't say I blame him.
The 6'3" 200 pound junior played as a true freshman with the Jayhawks posting 43 receptions for nearly 500 yards and 7 touchdowns. He followed that up with a monster sophomore year of 92 receptions for 1407 yards including a 250+ yard outburst against national championship participant Oklahoma. Briscoe was near the top of the conference and the nation for that matter in several major recieving categories and set several Kansas bests in the process.
Finally Johnathan Wilson will look to continue his role as the somewhat forgotten starter on the Jayhawk team. Injury and position changes put him in the lineup as a sophomore last season and he had a solid season rotating through as the third recieving option. Wilson's sophomore campaign rounded out with total of 43 receptions for 573 yards playing in all 13 games. The 6'3" 190 pound junior to be also turned some heads after having a great spring.Beyond the starters there are several upperclassmen that will by vying for minutes starting with Tetravian Ingram. Ingram has at times run with the first team to start of fall camp but he'll likely be one of the first of the bench when the season get's going. While Ingram only has a career total of 3 receptions, he did start the first two games as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and was considered a pretty big pickup in recruiting that year.
Another veteran in the mix is 5'11" 192 pound senior Raimond Pendleton. Made famous from his punt return celebration turned Mark Mangino youtube moment Pendleton has never quite been able to crack into the lineup on a consistent basis recording only 8 receptions. His most important contribution to the team would be on special teams at the beginning of 2007 as a punt returner averaging over 12 yards per return at the start of the season.
Rod Harris a 6'2" Junior who transferred in from Blinn County Community College is another name on the list of potential contributors at receiver. Harris has shown promise throughout his career on the scout team and in camp but injuries have kept him from getting the reps and seeing the minutes on gameday. He reportedly faced another setback during spring ball but nothing official is known.
Isiah Barfield a 6' 185 pound redshirt sophomore is a name to keep an eye on this season and in the future. He's bounced around in his first two seasons with the Jayhawks but early reports from 7 on 7's over the summer and fall camp are that he might finally be finding a role at the reciever slot. He's always been reported to have great athleticism and after spending time on defense last season it appears he may be finding a niche as an offensive weapon in the Jayhawk spread.
There are also a few true freshman that could make some noise at this position in 2009 starting with 4 star recruit Bradley McDougald. McDougald was originally an Ohio State commitment before ultimately ending up at Kansas. Measuring 6'2" 195 pounds he's known to be an elusive runner that is able to break tackles and make plays. Like Barfield early returns on this one are very positive.
Erick McGriff is another true freshman that reportedly showed up this summer and impressed. At 6'4" 205 pounds the freshman came into the summer physically ready to compete and turned heads in 7 on 7 and continues to do so as fall camp has begun. McGriff logged 44 catches for 730 yards as a senior in Florida.
The last of the freshman trio that could be in the mix on gameday is Chris Omigie. Labeled by rivals as one of the most underrated players last season Omigie is another big target at 6'4" 200 pounds. He's had one of the more memorable plays through the early days of camp with a behind the back, one handed catch on fellow freshman Tyler Patmon.
I would expect reshirts to be a strong possibility for all three of these given the depth at the position but early reports are leaving some doubt as it appears there is some belief that there might be an ability to contribute by some if not all of the incoming freshman.
Others on the list coming to the Jayhawks as preferred walk on's include Willie O'Quinn, Patrick Schilling and Reece Petty. As long as this preview is already I won't go into everyone of them, but I will say that Willie O'Quinn might just become the TJ Whatley of the football team. For those of you not old enough Whatley was a walk on for the basketball team that drew chants from the crowd in the mid 90's. He brought excitement late in games much the way guys like Terry Nooner, Matt Kleinmann and others have done after him.
O'Quinn as a true freshman walk on last season was good enough and impressed enough people to find his way on the field in special teams action. I personally noted some solid play in the Insight Bowl and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in games late as a reward for his efforts.
That wraps up our look at the reciever position. I've tried to keep it clean and concise but there are a lot of options here and this is by far the position I feel most confident about looking into the future for the Jayhawks.