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45 Days Until Kansas Football: Previewing the Wide Receivers

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Are the wideouts going to be a reason for optimism or a reason for concern in 2018?

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing TE Ben Johnson to graduation and the transferring of WR Chase Harrell, Kansas comes into the 2018 season with some serious talent at the receiver position. Let’s take a look.

Starter: SR Steven Sims Jr.

The star WR at Kansas is Steven Sims Jr. and he’s someone that is very much looking forward to his senior year. Sims averaged 14.2 yards per reception and hauled in 59 of them for 839 yards and six touchdowns on the season last year.

This year, Sims has to set the tone as the leader and senior of this WR corps. There is a lot of young talent but the face of this position this season is Sims. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound receiver has gone over at least 800 yards receiving in the last two seasons. He will surely be eyeing the 1,000-yard mark this season for the Jayhawks.

Starter: JR Evan Fairs

Most will see Jeremiah Booker as the guy on the outside next to Sims Jr., but I think you need to turn your attention to Evan Fairs. What you saw from Fairs in his freshman year was just simply eight games in which he barely was involved in the offense. This past year, he played in all 12 and started two, including against Texas, where Fairs broke out and flashed his potential against the Longhorns going for 104 yards on seven receptions.

This season, Fairs is going to steal the starting nod away from Booker. He has the big-bodied frame that will add to his value on the outside and provide a wider catch radius for the QB’s. Fairs, at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, will need to be relied on heavily in red zone situations and that is going to be his chance to build momentum for himself moving forward.

WR3: SR Jeremiah Booker

Booker is one of the team captains for Kansas. Booker has struggled with injuries ever since his arrival in Lawrence. His freshman year he missed four games, sophomore year he missed two games, and last year he missed the final two with an injury.

He’s a bigger receiver but I feel as though Fairs has his number at the position. Booker has never had more than 300 yards receiving in a season for the Jayhawks. It’s been a disappointing career to this point but Booker has a chance to make amends in his last year at Kansas.

WR4: JR Daylon Charlot

The former Alabama transfer and former 59th overall ranked player on ESPN300 was a highly anticipated transfer for many Kansas fans. Unfortunately, due to the NCAA transfer rules, Charlot had to sit out the 2016 season. Last season was definitely a process in trying to get him involved. The Jayhawks coaching staff ended up switching the receiver to safety in a move that totally didn’t work out.

Now, Charlot is back to turn heads at practice as a WR and could soon be back to doing what he was supposed to be doing since he graduated high school. The 6-foot and 209-pound receiver is going to be looking for some serious playing time this year, and with the talent Charlot possesses, he could definitely find a lot of it if he comes into his own.

While I have Charlot as the fourth receiver, he could easily finish the season as the first or second leading receiver on the team. There is a reason legendary coach Nick Saban did not want to lose him; Kansas just has to hope the reason is shown sooner rather than later.

The Rest

It’s going to be a dogfight to gain some playing time. Kansas has two seniors that have put together some production in Ryan Schadler, who is the starting kick returner, and Tyler Patrick, who is coming off a season-ending leg injury.

Quan Hampton is a talented sophomore that should get a huge look at more playing time. He’s probably the favorite to be the fifth receiver at this point.

After the “big three” you are likely looking at Kerr Johnson Jr., who is the only receiver I haven’t mentioned yet to have made a catch last season. After Johnson, you have the intriguing all-time single-season receiver record holder for El Camino Community College, Stephon Robinson Jr., another 3-star prospect that redshirted last year in Takulve Williams, and sophomore Kawmie Lassiter II who is the son of former Jayhawk Kwamie Lassiter.

Conclusion

This unit will be dictated on how well Steven Sims Jr. does being the number one target again, whether or not Evan Fairs can take the next step in becoming a genuine starter, and if Daylon Charlot can reclaim that luster that led him into the Alabama Crimson Tide football program to begin with. Last year, Kansas’ second-leading receiver was a TE who had a mere 363 yards receiving.

This unit will have to step up in 2018 to help out whoever emerges as the starting QB in what is the put up or shut up season for David Beaty.