As we dive straight ahead with our position previews, who somehow will be finished on time for the season opener, we move to the outskirts of the offensive formations; the outside receivers. We will have to replace Marcus Henry on the outside, but are returning Dezmon Briscoe as the other starter.
Honestly, I see a lot more depth in the slot than here on the outside. While the outside receivers are, usually, on the field more often (there has to be an outside WR on that side for there to even be a slot receiver, by the definition of the word), this unit seems thinner and less talented as a whole than the slot. Briscoe is a stud, obviously, but Jon Wilson is fairly unproven and Harris is the only other member of the five-pack of WRs that excites me. Raymond Brown is a wild card who has come out of nowhere; according to SB Nation's roster, he is listed as a safety. Still, the fifth-year senior appears to be in line for a potential role in the WR rotation, slotted as Dez' backup as of right now.
With all of that said, here is a glance at the depth chart at the OWR position for the next three years:
|OWR1||Dezmon Briscoe (SO)||Dezmon Briscoe (JR)||Dezmon Briscoe (SR)|
|OWR2||Jonathan Wilson (SO)||Jonathan Wilson (JR)||Jonathan Wilson (SR)|
|OWR3||Rod Harris Jr. (SO)||Rod Harris Jr. (JR)||Rod Harris Jr. (SR)|
|OWR4||Raymond Brown (rsSR)||Xavier Rambo (rsJR)||Xavier Rambo (rsSR)|
|OWR5||Marcus Herford (rsSR)||EMPTY||EMPTY|
|OWR6||Xavier Rambo (rsSO)||EMPTY||EMPTY|
--- Italics denote projected redshirt year
--- Bold denotes open position on the depth chart
Obviously, the top tier talent of this unit are all young and figure to be Jayhawks for awhile. And, you get the feeling that they have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and figure to get the vast majority of snaps at the OWR position. After those three it gets pretty sketchy, with a ex-safety that's never really threatened for PT at any position in Raymond Brown and another fifth-year senior, Marcus Herford, who never could really make the successful transition from high school QB to outside WR.
Player-by-player previews after the jump...
Dezmon Briscoe :: #80 :: SO :: OWR1
If you are looking for a star on this offense, one of the first names that should pop out of your mouth is Dezmon Briscoe. If you're looking for the best NFL prospect on this offense, you probably have to look towards #80. He has the size (6'3" 200), hands and skills to play in the NFL, and is good enough to make an early jump to the NFL. Honestly. With a really good year this year and an even better year next, he could be a 1st round pick and leave school early.
And, I really am expecting Briscoe to explode this season. Last season, as a true freshman, he was somewhat overshadowed by the veteran presences of Marcus Henry and Dexton Fields, not to mention Reesing's favorite dumpoff target, fifth-year senior Derek Fine. Now, with two of the three gone to the NFL, he figures to be the primary target of Todd Reesing. He probably won't lead the team in receptions, that will likely (once again) fall to Dexton Fields, but he will be the most impactful receiver on the team, and whenever a big passing play occurs, odds are it will involve Briscoe. He is a special, special talent who figures to have a monstrous season.
In case you can't tell, I'm pretty much in love with the guy. He had 43 catches last year, or a little over 3 a game, but that looks a lot better considering that he caught all of 1 pass the first two games. Take those two games out, and that one all-important reception (it did go for a TD, one of 7 on the season, second on the team), and he averages nearly 4 catches a game. Big difference. This year, he will go from being a name known merely around Big 12 circles to a nationwide name, acknowledged as one of the better WRs in college football by all CFB followers nationwide.
He will be the #1 receiver throughout his time here at Kansas, barring an injury or mountainous drop-off in production, and should be a star this season.
Jonathan Wilson :: #81 :: SO :: OWR2
Last season, Wilson hardly made a blip on the Kansas football scene. He mostly just stayed on the sideline, learning by way of watching and during the pressureless trials of practice. Yet, despite being a freshman, he was not handed a redshirt, and was brought in for a handful of plays against Toldeo. Then, in Kyle Field against Texas A&M, which was the game that actually burned his redshirt. Then, he caught a pass against Iowa State for 36 yards, his third of the season (he had a catch against both Toledo and A&M). I'm sure, in a couple of the other blowouts he saw field action, but the lack of television for said blowouts and the lack of catches made by Wilson make that difficult to track. In any case, numerous fans, me included, kind of considered his redshirt to be wasted last season, as his glimpses of action could have easily gone to anyone else on the team.
Still, maybe that experience will come into play for him this season. Maybe those extra catches, one of which came in an incredibly hostile environment, will make a difference in his nerves entering this season, and he will start out hotter. But more importantly, it is another example in a long list of them that Mangino really will play the best players; even if it might be in the team's best longterm interests for the better player to sometimes get a redshirt slapped on, Mangino won't redshirt the better player. And, while it doesn't always seem to make sense on a case-by-case basis, Wilson's case included, it does in the big picture of a program. It allows Mangino to, truthfully, make promises to recruits that "the best players will play", a cliche said by nearly all college coaches but followed through by few.
In any case, redshirt or not, Wilson is a starter this season and has been throughout all of fall practice. He has the potential to be really good, and with this basically his first whole season, he could emerge on the scene very similar to Briscoe last season. I'm not expecting such a splash from the outset, but he looks to have a very promising career in front of him. Wilson wasn't a highly rated prospect by Rivals, only a 2-STAR and a 5.2 RR, but he was a late bloomer, not really emerging as a legitimate BCS-level prospect until his senior year of high school. After his senior year, Kansas had to fight Arizona State and the Iowa schools for the kid, showing the potential some other big name programs thought he had. He has the talent, he had an inkling of experience last season; it's now time for Wilson to step up and become a legitimate #3 or #4 threat in the passing game.
Rod Harris Jr. :: #86 :: SO :: OWR3
Amidst all of the late commitments, most influenced by Kansas' 12-1 season, one that got continually overlooked, in my mind, was Rod Harris Jr. I mean, sure, he was a JUCO kid who wasn't an obvious starter (Rojas), an Aussie 4-STAR (D'Cunha) or the JUCO Offensive Player of the Year (Crawrord), but still. Good size (6'2" 200), good speed (4.5 40, according to his Rivals page) and decent production in JUCO. And yet, no one really talked about him much at all, and no one has really since, with him yet to pass either Briscoe or Wilson (a tougher task than you might think, I might add). So, he has gone almost completely overlooked coming into this season, by me as well as nearly every other Kansas fan. He figures to be a key member of the receiver rotation, as he looks to be, clearly, the #3 OWR as of right now, and that doesn't figure to change. While the other two receivers in front of him are also true sophomores, providing little chance for an increased role due to graduation, he still provides crucial depth and, if Briscoe were to leave early for the NFL, would seem to be the obvious replacement. I really don't know
much about him besides his measurables and the fact that he has a Chad Johnson haircut, but he has quickly become one of my favorite players. I don't know if it's the hair, but it likely has something to do with the fact that I think he is being hideously overlooked. Like, that harictu hideous. Well, maybe not that much, but you get the point.
Raymond Brown :: #38 :: rsSR :: OWR4
Honestly, who is Raymond Brown? I kind of remember him as a reserve safety, when hearing the name a couple of times, but I didn't even know he had moved to OWR. Then, sure enough, he shows up on the newly updated depth chart as Briscoe's primary backup, essentially placing him at #4 on the OWR depth chart. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a spot in the receiver rotation, and likely leaves him to pick up the scraps in garbage time, but that beats being a reserve safety likely never to see the light of day on the depth chart. So, however he ended up moving to OWR, congratulations to the coaching staff for finding him a place on this team. Another interesting little tidbit: Joe Mortensen, who is a self-proclaimed boxer, claimed that Raymond Brown would be the closest to scaring him in the ring. As Mortensen stated:
We have a wide receiver here, Raymond Brown, who's got the long reach and who's pretty quick.
Putting the whole boxing element aside, that little description of Raymond by Joe bodes well for his WR prospects. I know that he is a fifth-year senior, and the term 'prospects' isn't the best to use, but still. Maybe this ex-safety will see some field action afterall.
But, most likely, he will be around simply for depth purposes and special teams. However, it does make me feel slightly better about our OWR depth to have one more able-bodied guy out there, because frankly, were we stuck with Marcus Herford out there, we are in big trouble.
Marcus Herford :: #13 :: rsSR :: OWR5
Speak of the devil, here is Marcus Herford on the depth chart. Upon coming to Kansas, he was a farily celebrated recruit and was expected to be a key member of our team, wherever he ended up playing. The high school QB wound up at outside receiver, and quickly rose up the then-depleted depth chart and played a significant amount of snaps his sophomore year. However, it was apparent he wasn't a natural at the position, and he never really stuck. So, while he remains listed as an OWR, with the emergence of Raymond Brown his chances at playing OWR this season are slim-to-none. Honestly, it speaks to Herford's OWR talent that he got beat out by a largely give up on, fifth-year senior who was just moved to OWR for fall practice. And Herford was beaten out like *that*.
He was one of the nation's best kickoff return men, and I absolutely love watching his top-end speed unveil as he speeds down the field away from the kickoff coverage, but he just isn't made to be a OWR.
Xavier Rambo :: #18 :: rsSO :: OWR6
In all honesty, I'm not quite sure whether Rambo is a SWR or a OWR. But, I already had 6 pegged for the slot so I figured I would throw him out here with the outside wideouts and hoped nobody would freak out over the last scholarship WR on this team getting placed in the wrong category. In any case, his chances of getting on the field this season are virtually nonexistent, and he should be thought of as mere depth in the future.
Next Up: Offensive Tackles, Offensive Guards and Centers (Tuesday)