On our roster there are 16 listed receivers. 11 of them (including the Mr. I Can Do Everything, Kerry Meier), as far as I can tell, actually have their tuition paid-in-full, and they are the only ones who have a shot to actually see the field as a receiver. Of those 11, 6 are slot receivers and 5 are split out wide, at least I'm pretty sure (I'm not positive what either Xavier Rambo or Raimond Pendlton, but I think I figured it out).
Of the 6 slot receivers who stand a chance at playing this season, there are the clear, veteran front-runners in Dexton Fields and Kerry Meier, two promising youngsters in Daymond Patterson and Tertavian Ingram, a once-promising player who has since fallen out of grace of the coaching staff in Raimond Pendleton and a fifth-year senior who came in as a RB, switched to CB and is now a slot receiver in Gary Green II. Quite the group.
However, they will all play at least some role on this year's team, specifically the first three mentioned. The slot receiver is a cruical element to this offense, and despite being a "3rd receiver", by the definition most associate with the slot, Dexton Fields had the most catches of anybody last season and was on the field nearly every damn play. There will almost always be at least one WR lined up in the slot out there, and with some inexperience at TE (which we documented yesterday) there is a pretty big chance that, at least some of the time, two slots will be out there. And that is where Mr. Athletic Kerry Meier comes in, who could eventually become the most dangerous member of the entire receiving corps, if he isn't already.
So, with all of that said, here is how the depth chart pans out over the next three years:
|SWR1||Dexton Fields (rsSR)||Kerry Meier (rsSR)||Daymond Patterson (JR)|
|SWR2||Kerry Meier (rsJR)||Daymond Patterson (SO)||Tertavian Ingram (rsSR)|
|SWR3||Daymond Patterson (FR)||Tertavian Ingram (rsJR)||EMPTY|
|SWR4||Gary Green II (rsSR)||Raimond Pendleton (rsSR)||EMPTY|
|SWR5||Tertavian Ingram (rsSO)||EMPTY||EMPTY|
|SWR6||Raimond Pendleton (rsJR)||EMPTY||EMPTY|
--- Italics denote a projected redshirt year
--- Bold denotes an empty space that will need to be filled on the depth chart
Now, obviously, by 2010 the WR corps will be completely retooled. It is kind of silly to go all the way to 2010 on these depth chart extravaganzas, as so much can-and-will change between now and two years from now, but I think it provides a good background for the depth we have at any of the positions. This year, we are relatively stacked, and even without any incoming recruits or anything, we figure to be A-OK for next season. 2010 is a completely different story, of course, but that is quite a bit away.
Player-by-player previews after the jump...
Dexton Fields :: #88 :: rsSR :: SWR1
For some reason, completely unbeknownst to me, every time I think of our offense and the players on it, one number pops up. Sure, I almost always think of the stars everyone knows, but #88 always seems to be the first-or-second name out of my mouth. Whatever that means, I'm not sure. But no matter how often he is overlooked (except in my memories, apparently), you could make a case that he was the most important element to our offense last season. Whenever we really needed a catch, like on 3rd-and-9, it rarely actually seemed to go to our designated #1 receiver, Marcus Henry. No, instead, the ball always seemed to find Dexton's hands, safely of course, in order to move the chains. In our two biggest games of the year (vs. MU and vs. VaTech), he caught a combined 15 passes for 217 yards and a touch. Combine that with his 11 catch, 109 yard game against the Iowa State Cyclones, immediately preceding the previous two games, and he ended the year on a tear: a 26-catches-for-306-yards-and-3-TDs tear.
Combine that tear with the fact he was the leading pass-catcher for the Jayhawks last season, and you have a legitimate offensive threat. And yet, right or not, everyone can talk only about the exciting true sophomore on the outside, Dez Briscoe. Me included. Why? The same reason that everyone considered Henry to be the #1 target, while evidence on the field week-after-week proved otherwise. It is so much more fun to talk about the flashy, downfield threat as the QBs love partner, as opposed to the boring, 8-yard routes the slot receiver runs.
But, whether flashy or not, Dexton is the #1 receiver on this team. I'm looking for big years from Dex in his last year at Kansas, a chance for him to leave a lasting legacy for himself.
Kerry Meier :: #10 :: rsJR :: SWR2
Kerry Meier's story started like so many others who went on to star at BCS schools at the QB positioin; he dominatd the high school ranks, racking up accolades in tiny Pittsburg, Kansas like Michael Phelps' racked up gold medals in Beijing (what can I say, I hadn't seen the analogy made in, oh, I don't know, eighteen minutes, so I had to throw it in there...). Then he comes to Kansas and, after a redshirt year, wins the starting quarterback job and performs pretty admirably. I mean, who couldn't have seen that coming.
But shoulder problems open up the door for Todd Reesing, who plays well enough to force a quarterback controversey, which he eventually ends. Kerry Meier is relegated to the bench. Who could see that happening?
Golden boys aren't supposed to get beat out for starting spots, especially at the Taj Mahal of positions on the football field. And in the odd occurrence that they do, expect a lot of sulking, probably some off-the-field problems and, if you are lucky enough, a transfer. But Kerry Meier took a different path, a path that is usually taken by the A.J. Stewards of the world, people who simply couldn't cut it at the end-all-be-all position of QB and were forced to move somewhere else, at the demand of the coaches. Still, Meier wanted to see the field, and was willing to sacrifice to do it.
So, he asks to be switched to SWR, at least part of the time, so he can actually step onto a football field for live game action some time other than garbage time. And, since the move, he took off more than anyone could have expected, Meier included (I think). Now, he is thought of as a candidate for the biggest playmaker on the team, especially at the WR position. He has morphed from a solid Big 12 QB, a QB you can go 8-4 without too much talent (but probably not 12-1 last year) but doesn't seem likely to ever 'take you over the hump' to having a legitimate, Matt Jones-like NFL future at wide receiver.
I know you've heard that story a billion times. But I, for one, can't get enough of it. It epitomizes the philosophy Mark Mangino is trying to instill in all of his players. It epitomizes the person Kerry Meier is. It epitomizes all that is right in the world of sports, the selfless actions that often go unnoticed that make-or-break a team. But, most importantly, it epitomizes this team, the do-what-you-can-for-the-team kind of attitude that, more than anything, was responsible for last year's 12-1 team. Not to get all sappy and old-school (feelings mean more than the statistics!!!1!1!one!), but the move was pretty selfless. Even if he did end up gaining nearly as much as the team. Funny how those things work, sometimes.
Daymond Patterson :: #28 :: FR :: SWR3
This kid is unbelievable. He was a lightly recruited prospect overlooked out of Texas, was rarely mentioned as a potential impact freshman and didn't even get on campus until after spring practice had concluded. And, from the stuff I've read, he's turned more heads so far at fall practice than anyone else.
He was merely expected to be a candidate for the punt return job this season and, were he to lose, was an almost-guarantee to be redshirted. But, as the not-so-famous quote goes, that's why they have fall practice. In a few short weeks of shorts-and-shoulder-pads he has gone from potential punt returner and Dexton Fields' potential replacement to an immediate PT guy, someone who should see more-than-enough playing time throughout the season. He has gone from being a name that most merely had heard to a number that had everyone saying "Who's that?" at the two open practices (#28, which in the program is supposed to belong to Eric Tyler, a safety who is now #16). In fact, he is now residing on my desktop background, catching a pass (thanks to KU Sports' photo galleries).
He is only 5'9" 175, but he is the next bright star of this Kansas offense that no one, outside of the Jayhawk fanbase, knows. I suggest you hop on the bandwagon now, like I have, before it gets too crowded.
Gary Green II :: #4 :: rsSR :: SWR4
Coming out of high school, Green was actually a highly recruited prospect. Higher rated, according to Rivals ranking of the 2004 recruiting class, as a 5.7 on the RR scale than the following players: Mike Rivers (5.6), Dexton Fields (5.3), Joe Mortensen (5.3), Aqib Talib (5.2), Anthony Collins (5.1), Ryan Cantrell (5.1) and Charlton Keith (unrated). Those weren't made up. That is seven really solid starters, one of which (Keith) who was one of the better Kansas DEs of all time, two of which are NFL rookies (Talib and Collins) and four of which are slated to be starters when Kansas takes the field to take on FIU. That is a much larger indictment of the Rivals recruiting system as opposed to Gary Green (and a commendment for such a great class to Mark Mangino; in hindsight, that class was the biggest force in last season's run, along with other crucial players added in in '05, '06 and '07.
In any case, Green's college career has been, at least at some level, a disappointment. However, while he doesn't figure to receive a boatload of playing time this season (Daymond Patterson made sure of that, if it wasn't already inevitable) he still has a role, obviously. I've been saying it over and over throughout these position previews, but so many of these reserves can become crucial elements of the team by way of special teams.
Tertavian Ingram :: #89 :: rsSO :: SWR5
What a name. Not really sure where you get the inspiration for such a creative use of letters, but is certainly commendable, I guess. Moving beyond the name, Ingram's standing on the depth chart is unknown. To me, at least. He was highly thought of enough to make a cameo apperance in last year's Orange Bowl (I can't remember the situation, but I'm pretty sure it came late in the game) and has always seemed to be on the cusp of playing time, only to fall barely short. In all likelihood, he is way more likely to actually see the field as a WR than Green, but I wanted to give the 5th year senior some props.
He still has a chance to pop up as a starter once Meier leaves, when he will be the 5th year senior, only all five of his years will have been spent learning the slot receiver position. I still think the odds are in his favor that he is a major contributor at some point in his career, but don't be surprised if that time is 2010.
Raimond Pendleton :: #9 :: rsJR :: SWR6
My, how quickly has he fallen from grace. Entering last seaosn, he was a contender to fight for some playing time in the slot and the starting punt returner. He even returned a punt, now of YouTube fame, for a touchdown against Central Michigan in the season opener. Mangino's tirade followed, and that tirade became the first thing that came to the mind of most college football fans when thinking of 'Kansas Football '07' until about 9-0. Seriously.
But, moving back to Raimond Pendleton, he was never quite the same after that tirade. Not that I am blaming Mangino for delivering such a vulgar speech after a showboating effort, just that it hit a werid chord inside Raimond. Or, maybe it was just awkward timing that seemed to conincide the incident of the scream-a-thon with his subsequent fall from potential impact player to bench-sitter, making his recovered onside kick to effectively close out the Va Tech game his post-CMU highlight.
Now, he is one of the last members of the receivers corps, just a slight step up from the walk-ons. Sure, he is still a contender for the punt return job, a job that he could very well be the backup option for (after Daymond, of course!) the punt return job and will likely still be on the hands team. And hell, maybe he'll shock the world and become a member of the offensive rotation. But honestly, Raimond's college career peaked when he went airborne sailing into the endzone. It's been all downhill since.
Next Up: Wide Receivers