Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Wide Receivers, which Coach Charlie Strong said at his press conference on Monday would be the strength of the offense. If you want to talk about a position with depth, this is it. So let’s go ahead and get into it.
6’3 209 lbs
A local product from Ballard High School, DeVante Parker has led the team in touchdown catches in each of his first two years as a Card. As a freshman, he played in 11 games and caught 6 touchdowns. Keep in mind this was also Teddy Bridgewater’s first season, and later in the year, Parker was often double-teamed so Bridgewater would not force it to him. He still finished with 18 catches for 291 yards.
Last year as a sophomore, Parker was a nightmare for opposing defenses. He led the team with 744 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. Those 10 touchdown receptions were the most by a Card since 1998 (Arnold Jackson). He was named 1st Team All-Big East.
There are already some 2014 NFL Draft Projections that have Parker going in the 1st or 2nd round, depending on which one you look at. He is due for an absolute monster year, as are most of the other receivers with Teddy Bridgewater throwing the ball around and the balanced offense of the Cards. He will still probably be double-teamed a lot, but with so many weapons on the field for the Cards, there will be downs where he will surely be going against one defender. Those are the times that Parker must take advantage of, and as a junior, he should have no problem doing that. It could and should be a great year for DeVante Parker.
6’1 182 lbs
Some call him Honey Mustard, some call him Pineapple. Either way, you can definitely call him a threat on offense. As I type this, two plays from last year come right to mind that were two of the biggest plays of the season. In the season opener against Kentucky, and on their first drive of the game, the Cards were backed up on their own goal line. On 3rd and long, Bridgewater hit a diving Copeland down the sideline for the 1st down. The Cards went on to score on a 99 yard drive, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. The other play that comes to mind is from the Cincinnati game. I don’t even need to set the scene for this one, just check out the video! This led to a game-tying touchdown!
Last year as a junior was the first season that Copeland was healthy for a full season. As a freshman he played in 8 games. As a sophomore he only played in 1 game before getting hurt. He started every game last season and responded with 50 catches for 628 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 50 receptions were the most on the team.
So now you look at this year possibly being his best. After being injured for 2 seasons, Copeland had a great year. Now he is riding the momentum of that great season and being healthy? Look out folks! I hope you like honey mustard, because I think you will be seeing him making a lot of plays this year.
5’10 182 lbs
Everyone remembers the touchdown catches in the Sugar Bowl from DeVante Parker and Damian Copeland. But the leading receiver for the Cards that game was actually Eli Rogers! He had 4 catches (tied with Andrell Smith) for a team high 62 yards. On the first drive of the game for the Cards, Bridgewater threw a perfect pass to Eli Rogers on 3rd and long to keep the drive going. He was huge in that game.
It seems like he is always there to make a tough 3rd down catch. And a lot of that could be attributed to being teammates with Teddy in high school. They know each other so well.
As a freshman, Rogers led the team with 41 catches for 454 yards. He followed that up with a solid sophomore year, finishing 2nd on the team with 46 receptions and 3rd on the team with 505 receiving yards. He had 4 touchdown catches, which was 2nd on the team. I look for Rogers to continue to be that go-to guy on 3rd down. Teddy knows he can count on his old teammate to move the chains.
6’2 202 lbs
Whenever people are naming our wide receivers for this year and talking about how good they will be, one seems to be forgotten at times. And when healthy, it is a big one! Michaelee Harris was a big time recruit when he came to Louisville in Charlie Strong’s first season, but injuries have definitely stopped him from reaching his potential so far.
I remember going to an open practice during his freshman year and raving about his route running and how precise it was, especially for a freshman! Well he injured his MCL and missed that entire season. In the spring of 2011, he tore his PCL in the other knee. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, Harris started all 12 regular season games and finished 2nd on the team with 37 catches for 455 yards. He also caught 2 touchdowns. While practicing for the Belk Bowl that season, he tore his ACL. After a whole off-season of rehab and getting back to semi healthy, Harris tore his OTHER ACL last fall!
It really is hard to believe that one person can have that much bad luck. Harris showed in his 1 season that he was able to play, that when healthy, he is a difference maker at wide-out. With the depth at wide receiver, there is no reason for him to rush back until he is for sure 100% healthy. If anyone deserves a full season without injuries, it is Michaelee Harris. Here’s to hoping he gets to experience that!
6’2 171 lbs
I am not sure the fans knew what a talent DeVante Parker would turn out to be, so his debut was not highly anticipated like those of other local stars like Michael Bush and Brian Brohm. But James Quick is definitely one that the fans can not wait to see in action. He was a 5 star prospect coming out of Trinity High School, and was also named Mr. Football in the state of Kentucky.
He was named the MVP of the US Army All-American game after catching 3 passes for 71 yards, including the game-winning 34 yard touchdown catch. He finished with 102 all-purpose yards.
In Kentucky high school football history, Quick ranks 3rd in receiving yards (4,437) and touchdowns (57). He is the leading receiver in Kentucky high school football history with 280 receptions.
The exciting thing about James Quick is that anytime he touches the ball, he has a chance to take it all the way for a score. It will be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson uses him in the offense.
6’5 205 lbs
Another big weapon that people forget about is Matt Milton. For the casual fan, it would be easy to forget him because he transferred in last year from Tennessee and had to sit out for the season. He did miss spring ball this year because of a knee injury, but he should be good to go.
While at Tennessee, Milton played in 4 games as a freshman, and 6 games as a sophomore. He was a big recruit coming out of high school, rated as the 6th best prospect in the state of Illinois by Rivals and ranked as the 20th best wide receiver in the nation by Scout. I will have plenty more to say about him at the end of this post in “My Outlook.”
5’9 173 lbs
Another transfer into the program that sat out last year and will be playing this year is Robert Clark. Clark came here from the University of Florida along with tight end Gerald Christian. As a freshman at Florida, Clark caught 7 passes for 69 yards and 1 touchdown while playing in 11 games. The only time I have really seen him play was this year’s spring game. He had a couple of early drops, but had a huge catch on 3rd and long for a 1st down, so that was encouraging. He is also expected to contribute in the return game.
5’9 172 lbs
While you may not have heard his name too much the last few years, Jarrett Davis will be an important piece to the receiving corps. If nothing else, he is a senior and can provide leadership and be the veteran that younger guys look to.
He has played in 26 games in his career, catching 19 passes for 156 yards. At 5’9 and 172 lbs, Davis has good speed, and has usually been pretty good at simply catching the ball when it is thrown his way.
Other receivers with little or no info in their bio…
Kai De La Cruz RS Junior 6’0 186 lbs
Martin Williams RS Sophomore 6’0 176 lbs
Dontez Byrd Freshman 5’11 170 lbs
Tae’Shawn Gibbs Freshman 5’10 175 lbs
Wow, where do you even begin with a group like this? You have to agree with Charlie Strong that the wide receivers will be the strength of the offense. Now the running backs could certainly make a run at that (pun intended), but for now it has to be the receivers.
I fully expect DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland, and Eli Rogers to be the leaders of this unit and pick up right where they left off last season. I mean, who does the defense focus on? Do they double-team Parker? OK then you leave Copeland and Rogers with single coverage. Play man on Parker? Good luck there. This is all without even mentioning the running game yet. At any time, we can put 4-5 wide receivers on the field that could be a threat every play. Teddy Bridgewater simply does not force the issue either. He doesn’t care who gets the catches, just that the open man does. He will take what the defense gives him. And defenses this season are going to have to pick which receiver they want to focus on, and then just hope that our other receivers don’t burn them.
Now in saying all of that, I must say that the 2 receivers I can not wait to see are James Quick and Matt Milton! With Quick, I just want to see him get out in open space and make something happen. I expect Shawn Watson to call some screen passes for him or little quick swing passes just to get him the ball and let him make a move.
Matt Milton is one that I have been ready to see since last season’s open practices. Whenever I am talking about this season with someone and I bring him up, I usually get “Who?” And that’s OK. Like I said, he was a transfer and sat out last year, so some people may not remember that. But when I saw him at last year’s practice, and yes it was only 1 practice so that is all I can go on here, he definitely caught my attention the most. First of all, he is a 6’5 wide receiver. Now we have had tall ones in the past, some better than others I know. But Milton caught everything thrown his way, and went and got it if it was not thrown right to him. It was like watching Mario Urrutia, but with Harry Douglas hands. Can you imagine that?
If you get to attend either of the open practices Tuesday or Wednesday evening, keep your eye out on this fantastic group of receivers. And if big Matt Milton is out there and recovered from his injury, just take a look. You will see!
Tomorrow I will bring you the breakdown of the Running Backs!
*Some info came from gocards.com.