After two positions that are pretty cut and dry, it gets a bit more messy at wide receiver. While it was fashionable to blame a lot of our offensive inefficiency on Austen Arnaud and the playcalling, the wide receivers underachieved as a group last fall. Coming into 2010, it's an interesting mix of experience, inexperience, potential and question marks. Check out after the jump, as we've got to attack this group in a different manner.
Chris Young (JUCO)
Jarvis West (HS)
Albert Gary (JUCO - yup, really)
Matt Van Dyke
We'll start here in reverse order - expect none of the walkons to play. The one intriguing story is that of Bledsoe. The younger brother of Ter'ran Benton, he's all of 5-5. He's also damn fast. Don't worry about him this year, but he's a guy to sort of remember.
Assuming we're starting a three receiver, one tight end set the majority of time, this is my crack at what we could be seeing out there...
Jake Williams (Sr.)
Sedrick Johnson (Jr.)
Darius Darks (Jr.)
I struggled with whether or not to put Reynolds in the first group, but his injury last year and injury this spring, along with some other reasons give me good reason to take him out of that first group. Williams seized the opportunity to get playing time last year and capitalized. As much as anyone on the team, he generally runs the right routes, and he's the on guy that Arnaud seemingly feels comfortable making the big pass to. Sed needs to finally start playing like the four-star recruited that spurned huge offers from the LSU's of the world to play in Ames. He's getting physically bigger and stronger, but he still needs to work on not getting pushed around. Darks struggled through a leg injury all of last year, but he could really settle into a role of a dependable slot/#3 receiver again this fall.
Projected Second Group:
Chris Young (Jr.)
Darius Reynolds (Jr.)
Donnie Jennert (Fr.)
I tend to think when you bring in just a few JUCOs, and if they are two year JUCOs, they will play. I think Young will have every opportunity to see time on the field. If Darks struggles with injury again, I really think Young could fit into that slot/#3 role. I already addressed Reynolds. I love his ability, but there are some serious question marks surrounding him going into this fall. Jennert appears to be a favorite of the coaching staff, while fans have dubbed him as the next Todd Blythe. I won't go that far, as Jenner has a much slimmer build, but much like Young, he'll be given every opportunity to try and make a mark this fall.
Projected Third Group:
Josh Lenz (So.)
Keith Blanton (Fr.)
Lonzie Range (So.)
Lenz played quite a bit as a freshman, and was an early favorite of mine, but a concussion during spring ball set him behind the curve, and he really seems like someone who could have benefitted from a redshirt year. I just think he's going to have to work hard to get his snaps back. One positive out of Lenz is that he's consistently referred to as a guy with "no fear". He may still see time on special teams early, though. Blanton is a favorite of mine as well, as I think he was arguably more impressive than Jennert during the spring game. Range has dealt with injuries, and is a guy that may not see the field unless the staff feels more comfortable with him out there than freshmen.
Albert Gary (Fr.)
Jarvis West (Fr.)
Gary and West both come in as freshmen with interesting stories. Gary is that ever so rare "four years to play four" JUCO - he redshirted his freshman year at Butler CC and ISU then offered him - he was originally an Arkansas commit (as a runningback, even). West is a freshman from Florida that turned down offers from teams like Nebraska to come to Ames. Both come in without the knowledge of Tom Herman and Luke Wells' system, but both have big playmaking ability. The coaching staff has shown a willingness to play freshmen early, and if the wide receiver corps disappoints like it did at times last year, they'll get their shot.
So what can we expect? I'm not sure. There's talent here to be sure, but it's also a group that needs to improve dramatically to make the job easier for the rest of the offense. There were a number of blown routes last year, with Williams really being the only dependable receiver for the bulk of the season. The coaching staff will have to determine the best way to dole out plays - there's nearly a dozen guys with a legit shot to get time. They'll have to keep improving, however, if the Cyclones want to go someplace again in the 2010 postseason.