Since yesterday was Tight End Tuesday, let's go ahead and dub this Wideout Wednesday.
Kansas State's wide receiver corps probably is the subject of the some of the biggest debates in the offseason.
National pundits seem to think losing Brandon Banks will leave us helpless and infantile at the position.
Meanwhile, optimistic fans think we can plug in four different receivers who didn't see time last season — but three of whom have starting experience at BCS schools — and not miss a beat. If nothing else, we've certainly upgraded the size at the position (but when your best option was 5'6", that's a no-brainer).
So which will it be — devastation or mass upgrade? Follow the jump to see my take.
The Pass Catchers
Stephen Johnson is worthy of special distinction for one simple reason: At 136 pounds, he's the lightest player on the K-State roster this year. I'm not quite sure what that means, other than he's unlikely to ever see the field during an actual game.
#3 Chris Harper
The legend finally makes his debut in purple. You already know the story, I'm sure. Chris put on the purple hat and committed to Ron Prince, then promptly de-committed five days later whenleft for Maryland. At Oregon, the Wichita native became the first player in eight years to throw, catch and run for a touchdown in the same season. But he decided he didn't like smelly hippie girls, so he moved back home to play for Bill Snyder.
After a season of terrorizing the starters on the scout team, Harper's ready to unleash the full range of his physicality from both the slot and flanker positions, as well as potentially seeing some time in the Wildcat formation.
If there's any player Wildcat Nation is more excited to see on offense than Chris Harper, it's Brodrick Smith. Like Harper, this Garden City standout spurned Prince's already-unraveling program to play at equally coaching-challenged Minnesota, where he started two games and caught five passes, one for a TD. He quadrupled that number in the spring game after moving back to Kansas to be closer to his child. Now he looks to be Carson Coffman's primary option in the passing game, but wearing No. 5 — the number of legendary receivers Quincy Morgan and James Terry — means Smith has a lot to live up to.
#17 Cole Bachamp
Cole's a Manhattan native and something of a special teams stalwart. He often can be seen streaking down the field on kick coverage. Don't look for him to make much impact in a deep receiver corps, however.
#19 Devin Gfeller
#22 Zach McFall
#26 Cale Miller
#29 Cody Harrison
A whole slew of walk-ons and juco transfers was added to the roster today, most of them so recent that they don't even have bios yet. I can't say I know anything about any of them, but if any readers do, feel free to chime in with the scoop in the comments.
If Stephen Johnson is the lightest player on the roster, then Adam Repass-Orduna is the shortest (tied with Robert Rose at 5-foot-4). Plus, he has a kickass hyphenated last name. What's not to love?
#82 Adrian Hilburn
Anyone remember Adrian Hilburn? He was part of Ron Prince's Great Juco Experiment, one of four wide receivers brought in to bolster the position after Jordy Nelson graduated. Of those four, only ever really did anything, although another will be mentioned in a moment. But Adrian redshirted in 2008 with an injury and didn't do much in 2009, so I would expect him mostly to provide depth and perform on special teams.
However, if he's got more in mind, now's the season to surprise us all.
#83 Ed Brown
Ed Brown was a surprise late signing and there was some thought he was being brought in to help contribute at defensive back. But he's listed at wide receiver on the official roster, so I guess that's where he'll stay. Expect him to redshirt.
Oh, man, I could write about this kid for hours. Even though Brodrick Smith wowed us all in April, I actually was more impressed with Thompson if we're talking pure receiver skills. Don't call him the second coming of Brandon Banks, either — he wants to break out of Banks' shadow, and I think he's more than capable. Why? Well, he 1) is taller (although by only a few inches — but every inch counts [that's what she said]), 2) carries more weight and 3) already runs better routes as a redshirt freshman, according to his coaches and teammates. I don't think we'll have any dropoff at the slot position, and I expect him to step in at punt returner and maybe kick returner like Banks never left.
#87 Sheldon Smith
Sheldon stepped in and even started a few games last year, although he appeared less later in the season after the emergence of Collin Klein. But that was a season in which the other Smith, Brodrick, and Chris Harper were forced to redshirt, so he'll have an even harder time cracking the lineup this season. Still, his experience can't be discounted, and I expect him to battle with Hilburn for the fifth position in a five-wide formation.
#88 Torell Miller
Now this is an interesting experiment. "Toe," as he's known by his teammates, first made waves in summer 2009, along with David "Rat" Garrett, as a defensive back who was just lighting people up in 7-on-7 drills, and basically an impressive physical specimen and athletic talent overall. Well, that didn't quite parlay into a kickass freshman season, even though he was one of a few not to redshirt — very unusual for a Bill Snyder team. Unfortunately, he's probably most famous for giving up a TD one play after coming in for an injured Tysyn Hartman and being picked on by Nebraska (crafty move, Shawn Watson). Maybe that's why the coaches moved him to wide receiver.
I expect Torell will redshirt this season while he learns his new position, given the depth across the board.
#89 Aubrey Quarles
The Comeback Kid returns! Aubrey sought to build on a promising junior season in 2008 — in which he caught a pass with his helmet and received more than 400 yards overall, but coughed up the ball on a crucial fumble in a loss at Colorado — with the return of Bill Snyder, but a hip injury forced him to sit out the season. Now he's being counted upon to provide veterancy at an otherwise young and somewhat inexperienced position. I think Quarles has the chance to simply shine this season, as defenses are forced to focus on the faster Thompson, the bigger Brodrick Smith and, of course, the beastly Daniel Thomas. No one deserves it more — Aubrey is one of the happiest, smilingest athletes I've ever been around.
Depth Chart Predictions
- Starter: Brodrick Smith
"W" (Slot) Receiver
- Starter: Tramaine Thompson