Football Guide: Positional grades for wide receivers
Austin Hill, Wide Receiver
Projected starters: Austin Hill (redshirt senior), DaVonte’ Neal (redshirt sophomore), Cayleb Jones (redshirt sophomore), Samajie Grant (sophomore)
Backups: David Richards (redshirt junior), Trey Griffey (redshirt sophomore), Tyrell Johnson (true freshman), Nate Phillips (sophomore), Abraham Mendivil (redshirt freshman), Kaelin DeBoskie (true freshman), Drake Pierre (redshirt freshman), Khari McGee (redshirt freshman), Clive Georges (redshirt sophomore), Darius Aguirre (true freshman), Tony Ellison (true freshman), Spencer Marciniak (true freshman)
Departures: Terrence Miller (graduation, NFL), Johnny Jackson (switch to cornerback), Trevor Ermisch (switch to safety), Garic Wharton (left program), Paul Elvira (no longer with program), Aaron Lacombe (no longer with program)
Returning stat leaders: Nate Phillips (2013-14) — 51 receptions for 696 receiving yards and seven touchdowns
Samajie Grant (2013-14) — 47 receptions for 373 receiving yards and one touchdown
Last season, inexperience and injury plagued the depth at wide receiver, and the passing statistics suffered as a result. Arizona receivers tallied 2,516 receiving yards on the season, which was 516 less receiving yards than their opponents gained against them.
Back are those who were injured last season (Austin Hill, David Richards) and new to the fold are several high profile transfers (DaVonte’ Neal, Cayleb Jones). Add those players to the returning cast led by sophomores Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips and the Wildcats have one of the premier wide receiver groups in the conference.
Specifically, Hill’s return will make life easier for the quarterbacks on the roster. Hill tore his ACL before last season and missed the entire season as he recovered. Prior to his injury, Hill caught 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
Having that kind of production return to the lineup will make the Wildcats that much more dangerous.
Joining Hill this season is the transfer duo of Neal and Jones. Neal, who transferred from Notre Dame, and Jones, who transferred from Texas, are projected starters and add two different receiving styles to the team.
The 5-foot-10 Neal will likely start in the slot and provide big-play ability every time he touches the ball, a la current Seattle Seahawk Percy Harvin. Jones is a bigger receiving threat (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) who can catch jump balls down the field over smaller defensive backs.
Returning to action is the trio of Phillips, Grant and Trey Griffey. They combined for 112 receptions for 1,239 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
If any positional group is significantly better than last season, it’s the wide receivers’.
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