After losing Dezmon Briscoe to the NFL and Kerry Meier to graduation, KU knew coming into the 2010 season that its WR corps was not going to be the dominating force it had been the previous few seasons. KU had some young talent and guys who had played, but the position was mostly a question mark.
Unfortunately, KU’s struggles at QB made it difficult for us to see how good some of our WRs could be. For the season, KU really only got solid production out of two guys – senior wideout Jonathon Wilson and junior slot man Daymond Patterson. Wilson has finally graduated (it felt like he was here for about nine seasons), and Bradley McDougald (who was tied with tight end Tim Biere and halfback James Sims with the third most receptions on the team) has been moved to safety.
With the struggles in the downfield passing game, KU turned to its running backs often to pick up some of the slack. James Sims finished with 19 receptions and Angus Quigley chipped in with 15 catches. With all of the talent and speed at RB, I would expect KU to continue to try to get the ball to its running backs via the passing game. That being said, it will be important for KU to develop some weapons at WR to open up the offense and keep defenses honest. We know Patterson is the slot guy, but after that…
Daymond Patterson – 5’9, 173 – Senior (15)
Patterson was easily the most productive wide receiver last season, grabbing 60 catches for 487 yards. He is a true slot receiver – an undersized speedster who excels at grabbing short passes and trying to make plays with his feet. Daymond earned All-Big 12 second team honors last season, and was the offensive player of the week three times. The best part of his game last season was consistency – he caught at least five catches in nine games.
Heading into 2011, Patterson is really the only sure thing amongst the WRs. I would expect the offense to continue to get him the ball, especially on bubble screens, to try to move the chains. Patterson isn’t a big deep threat, but he is consistent and should produce yet again in 2011.
Chris Omigie – 6’4, 194 – Sophomore (83)
Chris started to come on towards the end of the year, and I would expect him to earn a starting spot this season and be a contributor. He earned a start in the last two games of the season, and grabbed three catches for 41 yards against Oklahoma State.
Chris’ two starts at the end of the year likely mean he is in the driver’s seat for a starting WR position this fall. He has great height and could be just what KU needs to replace Jonathon Wilson.
Erick McGriff – 6’3, 209 – Sophomore (88)
The son of legendary baseball player Fred "Crimedog" McGriff, Erick is another guy who has great size and should be in the mix for a lot of playing time this fall. He earned a start last year against Iowa State, and I would expect both he and Omigie to be the primary outside receivers along with Patterson in the slot when the season starts.
Christian Matthews – 6’1, 186 – Sophomore (12)
Christian was moved from QB to WR last spring after redshirting his first year. He is a guy who was deemed a bit of a project, but really started to turn heads in practice with his speed at the WR position. Last season, Christian saw action in eight games, and finished with one catch for 41 yards against New Mexico State.
Now that Christian has had some time to settle in at WR, I expect him to be ready to contribute more this season. He has been described as a deep threat, and he could provide a spark to an offense that desperately needs one.
D.J. Beshears – 5’8, 174 – Junior (20)
Beshears actually rushed the ball (55) more times than he caught it (10) last season, despite being listed as a wide receiver. With his size and quickness, he seems like a good candidate to join Daymond Patterson as a slot receiver.
The staff loves D.J.’s big play potential, so expect him to get the ball in some capacity on offense. With so many talented players at running back, I would expect Beshears to work his way more into the passing game this season as a slot receiver while also handling kickoff returns.
Brian Maura – 6’4, 190 – RS Freshman (84)
After redshirting his first year at KU, Brian will be looking to crash KU’s depth chart and earn some playing time this fall. Brian is another wideout with good height, and was one of the top high school players in the Miami area. In his senior season at Felix Varela in the Miami-Dade County area, Brian grabbed 39 passes for 724 yards and seven touchdowns.
Physically, Maura appears ready to contribute early for KU. To go along with his size, Brian posses blazing speed, boasting a 4.49 40 time. A lot of schools came after the former three-star recruit after he gave a commitment to KU; luckily he stayed a Jayhawk and had the opportunity to redshirt a year. Out of all of the freshman wideouts competing for playing time, Maura appears to have the best chance to contribute next season.
Andrew Turzilli – 6’4, 185 – RS Freshman (82)
The Turzmanian devil is another tall target for whoever ends up playing QB for the ‘Hawks next season. Turzilli redshirted last season, so we still don’t know much about him, but he put up big numbers in high school – 48 catches for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns. His high school success resulted in Andrew earning a three star ranking from Rivals.
Turzilli doesn’t appear to be a real burner, and at this point it appears Omigie and McGriff are ahead of him on the depth chart. His height and leaping ability could be an asset, so it will be interesting to see how he develops under David Beaty.
Kale Pick – 6’1, 208 – Junior (7)
Once KU’s quarterback of the future and quarterback of the present, Pick quickly fell out of favor with the staff and lost his spot to Jordan Webb. Pick’s athleticism and speed have never been a question, and now the staff hopes to turn him into the next version of Kerry Meier at WR. Pick appeared in a few games towards the end of last year and caught a couple passes off bubble screens.
If you think Pick can become as productive a WR as Kerry Meier, you are probably kidding yourself. However, he does have good speed, and his ability to throw could help KU develop some trick plays. Gadget plays were very successful with Kerry Meier, and anything that could help the offense is welcomed at this point.
Chase Knighton – 5’11, 184 – Junior (47)
Chase transferred to KU from Tabor College, and after redshirting a year, joins KU as a junior. He was originally a quarterback before being switched to WR.
I think the only way Knighton is going to make an impact for the Jayhawks is on special teams, and his quarterback background may help him contribute on the scout team as well.
Five Questions Entering Spring Practice:
1) Can Daymond Patterson continue to produce? Last year Patterson caught 60 passes; Jonathon Wilson was second on the team with 38 (and he has graduated) and the next highest reception total for one player was 19. Patterson will be a marked man this season, can he keep up the pace?
2) Will Omigie and McGriff start? Both got some playing time last year and started to come on towards the end of the year. They have to be the favorites to start this year.
3) What role will D.J. Beshears play? The Junior lined up at WR and RB last season, while also returning kickoffs. He seems like a good fit for the slot, and the staff wants to get him the ball.
4) What will KU get from its QB turned WRs? Matthews, Pick and Knighton are all former quarterbacks. Matthews and Pick both saw action last year, and KU may be able to use them in trick plays.
5) What formations will be used? The staff has indicated it would like to use more traditional sets this season, which will decrease the opportunity to play for the entire WR corps.
In a nutshell, the KU receivers are talented – but inexperienced. We know what Patterson can do, and that is about it. If KU’s quarterbacks continue to struggle, we will yet again see poor stats from the WR corps no matter how well they play. However, the Jayhawks have a lot of young weapons ready to contribute, and I’m optimistic that there enough talent here to help out our quarterback… whoever that may be.