Last year, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights caught a total of 168 passes from the wide receiver position. Of those 168, only 28 catches were made by receivers currently on the active roster.
Unaware Rutgers Fan #1—“Well, as long as we have a seasoned quarterback under center, it will be easier for the newer, less experienced receivers. It won’t be that bad.”
Aware Rutgers Fan #2—“Our starting quarterback for the past three seasons, Mike Teel, is graduating in May.”
Unaware Rutgers Fan #1—“But I just renewed my season tickets!!!”
Well, I wouldn’t go running for that refund just yet, but there are certainly big shoes to fill.
Kenny Britt, “School Record Shatter-er Extraordinaire,” declared for the NFL draft as a junior; Tiquan Underwood, a three-year starter, is a graduating senior. Britt and Underwood, along with recently dismissed Dennis Campbell, leave huge voids at the wide receiver position.
Who will step up in 2009? Who will replace 15 out of 26 total receiving touchdowns this fall?
That remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Tim Brown will be a part of it… along with...some…other guys?
He enters 2009 as the Knights most seasoned receiver, accumulating more catches and touchdowns than any of his current teammates.
And it’s not even close.
After Brown, Julian Hayes is Rutgers’ next active career receiving leader, who has a whopping 1 reception for 9 yards to his name. Oh boy.
In 2008, Brown caught 27 passes for 565 yards and 6 touchdowns. In his career, he’s amassed 1,122 yards on 59 receptions and 11 touchdowns. For those keeping score at home, Timmy catches a touchdown once every 5.3 times he touches the ball.
Historically a slot/third receiver, Brown brings blazing speed and home-run potential to the field on every play. However, his biggest challenge will be adjusting to the increased attention he will receive from defensive backs, as he graduates from being a number three receiver to the primary receiver for the Knights.
Although he has never seen the type of attention a typical number one receiver garners, the fact remains that Timmy Brown is Shakespearean in his play-making ability and needs to get as many touches as possible.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s slim pickings for Rutgers’ next quarterback in terms of receivers with experience. Doesn’t get much more “slim” than 1 reception for 9 yards, does it?
The Scarlet Knights will turn over every stone in hopes of finding the next Kenny Britt or Tres Moses, and they are optimistic that the production and talent they seek is already on the roster.
Mason Robinson, a junior, who spent his first two years as a tailback, is being transitioned into a wide receiver. Given the lack of experience and depth at the position, coach Greg Schiano is trying the NJ state high school100 meter dash record holder’s speed on the outside. I’ll buy that.
Julian Hayes, a red-shirt junior, will try adding to his weighty career reception total of 1 this fall. This 6'1", 215-pounder has the frame and physicality to hold his own on the field and should contend for a starting spot opposite Brown.
Other veterans include Thursday-night-hero Andrew DePaola, who threw the game-changing touchdown on a fake field goal against South Florida in 2007, and Pat Brown.
While these “veterans” may be more familiar with Rutgers’ offensive schemes given their years with the program, the real buzz surrounds a robust crop of red-shirt freshman wide receivers.
These newbies include Marcus Cooper (6’2”-180), Keith Stroud (6’3”-200), Tim Wright (6’4”-205), and Eddie Poole (6’3”-185).
Very tall and highly touted, these promising freshmen are loaded with potential and have the size to fight for playing time in Piscataway this spring.
It’s unknown whether one, all, or any of these four receivers have learned enough in the past year to grab significant playing time or a starting spot. Spring practice reports say some may be on the cusp.
However, the upside on these four is enormous and their ceilings are incalculable.
Timmy Brown, easily the Scarlet Knights’ most explosive offensive weapon, has shown he can take it to the house and change a game in an instant, but he won’t be able to carry the team himself.
Plus, as a 5’8” receiver, don’t expect too many fade routes to be thrown his way in the corner of the end zone.
He’s going to need the help of his teammates, experienced or not, to lighten the load for the next quarterback, or else Rutgers offense could be as one dimensional as this sentence.