Monday, February 18, 2013
Position breakdown: Receiver
By Sam Khan Jr.
One area that will be a point of focus for Texas A&M fans this spring and heading into the fall will be wide receiver.
Three of the top four receivers from 2012 [in terms of receiving yards] and four of the top six will not be back in 2013. Senior starters Ryan Swope (72 catches, 913 yards), Uzoma Nwachukwu (26 catches, 485 yards) and Kenric McNeal (19 catches, 265 yards) have all graduated and freshman Thomas Johnson (30 catches, 339 yards) withdrew from school in November and appears unlikely to return.
Texas A&M loses three of its top four receivers, but Mike Evans' 82 receptions for 1,105 yards is a good foundation to build around.
The good news for the Aggies is that their top receiver in terms of catches (82) and yardage (1,105) will be back: redshirt freshman and soon-to-be-sophomore Mike Evans.
Evans exploded onto the scene in his redshirt freshman year, emerging as a go-to option for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. But who else will Johnny Football turn to when it comes to catching the football? That question might not be answered funny until the fall, when five of the six projected receivers in the 2013 recruiting class will arrive.
In the meantime, the guys on campus will get a head start, particularly those who have already seen the field. One receiver worth paying close attention to this spring will be Malcome Kennedy.
In his sophomore season, Kennedy caught 26 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in his part-time role and emerged as a notable target late in the year for Manziel. Kennedy is probably best remembered by Aggies for his 24-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of the Aggies' 29-24 win over Alabama. That catch gave the Aggies the points they needed to hold off the Crimson Tide.
After that big catch, Kennedy with a season-high seven catches and 110 yards in a 59-29 win over Missouri in the regular season finale.
Others returning that saw some action in limited roles that are worth keeping an eye on are Derel Walker and Sabian Holmes. Walker caught passes in six of the Aggies' final nine games last season and Holmes was one of a handful of true freshmen on the roster to see time last season.
LeKendrick Williams, who is known for his speed and saw time on special teams, is another who saw limited action on offense and would be a prime candidate to compete for an increased role this spring. Gaston Lamascus had a quality spring last year and caught five passes last season, so it might be worth watching him as well.
One player that didn't see time last year, instead redshirting, that could be interesting to watch is Edward Pope. He earned scout team player of the year honors from the coaching staff, so he could find himself in the mix with a good spring.
From the incoming recruiting class, there are two pass-catchers who enrolled in January who will compete for time on the field. Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy receiver Ja'Quay Williams and Arizona Western College tight end Cameron Clear both bring size and athleticism for their respective positions.
Williams, a four-star recruit, could be an instant-impact player for the Aggies if he comes in and has a good spring. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Georgia native was originally an Auburn commitment but flipped to Texas A&M late in the process.
Clear brings plenty of size at 6-6, 285. He has played in the SEC before, spending his freshman season at Tennessee before transferring to Arizona Western. Clear will compete with tight end Nehemiah Hicks, who is entering his senior season and caught seven passes for 60 yards last season.