2014 WR and TE Recruits Who Will Dominate in the Red Zone
The 2014 recruiting class is littered with talented receiving targets capable of taking over when it counts the most. Efficiency in the red zone is key for any team looking to contend for a title.
The ability to punctuate a drive with a trip to the end zone is imperative, and these receivers provide tremendous weapons for that effort. Here's a look at several top tight ends and receivers ready to dominate near the goal line during their collegiate careers.
5-Star Wide Receiver KD Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas)
KD Cannon is an incredible route-runner for someone in the early stages of his football career. He bursts in and out of cuts, staying compact as he glides upfield.
The 6-foot, 165-pound Mount Pleasant playmaker is tenacious off the snap, refusing to be pinched off a route by physical coverage corners. He emerges from breaks with his eyes targeted on the quarterback and doesn't sacrifice pad level.
Cannon committed to Baylor in August, spurning offers from Florida, Clemson, Miami, Texas and Texas A&M. He has been dominant so far as a senior despite commanding constant double-team coverage.
He exploded in a Sept. 13 victory over Terrell, totaling nine receptions for 271 yards and five touchdowns.
4-Star Wide Receiver Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Michigan commit Drake Harris is a complete wide receiver prospect who will provide the Wolverines with a go-to target in the red zone. His quickness allows him to ditch defensive backs in coverage, but it's his strength that serves him best when the end zone is in sight.
Harris is an explosive runner who racks up yards after the catch. He sheds tacklers with a strong lower body and is able to reach another gear when evading defenders in hot pursuit.
The 6'4", 180-pound Grand Rapids Christian standout is missing the early stages of his senior season with a hamstring injury, according to 247Sports. As a junior, he caught 91 passed for 2,015 yards and 25 touchdowns en route to a state title.
Harris decommitted from Michigan State in March. He also considered offers from Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame and Oregon.
4-Star Tight End Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.)
Mike Gesicki fits the mold of football's new brand of tight end. The 6'6", 235-pound Southern Regional senior stars on the basketball court as one of the top forwards in New Jersey and brings elite athleticism to a position once reserved for primarily blockers.
He runs routes like a wide receiver, which is why some college squads would love to line him up outside in certain packages. He is strong enough to disengage from linebackers and leave them in his dust, while his quickness won't let him down when matched up with a safety.
There are a few things a defender can do against Gesicki in the red zone. An ability to establish position and space early in the play is arguably his greatest asset.
His ideal collegiate playing weight is likely in the 250-pound range, and a training staff should be able to get him there quickly without sacrificing his agility. He is currently considering offers from a long list of suitors, including Penn State, Miami, Ohio State, Duke, Rutgers and Wisconsin.
As a junior, he established single-season school records for receptions (50) and receiving yards (958), per the Asbury Park Press. He also caught nine touchdowns while taking his team to the state title game.
5-Star Wide Receiver Malachi Dupre (New Orleans, La.)
Versatile wide receiver Malachi Dupre is the top offensive weapon for defending national high school champion John Curtis Christian. He uses his 6'3", 190-pound frame to gain position on defenders and attacks the ball at its highest point.
One of several top-tier Louisiana playmakers in the 2014 class, Dupre is devastating in the end zone. He has extraordinary leaping ability and wingspan, which can make it seem like he's climbing a ladder when going up for the football.
Listed as the nation's No. 1 wide receiver in 247Sports' composite rankings, he is considering offers from a wide variety of schools, including Clemson, LSU, Alabama, Florida State and UCLA. He should vie for a starting spot during his first collegiate campaign.
4-Star Wide Receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa)
Urbandale High School star Allen Lazard is a matchup nightmare at any level of football. The 6'5", 210-pound Iowa State commit ranks among the most physically imposing wide receiver prospects in the nation and still has room to add 10-20 pounds to his frame.
It's a scary thought for future opponents, who must contend with solid speed (247Sports clocks him at a 4.62 40-yard-dash) along with size that's almost impossible for any cornerback to compete with. He is an effortless route-runner for a receiver of his stature and can essentially "box out" defensive backs in the end zone.
Lazard announced his verbal pact with the Cyclones last December and has remained true to the commitment despite collecting scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Iowa, Oregon and Stanford. He'll arrive on the nearby campus as a local celebrity with immense expectations in place.
He hauled in four passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the second game of his senior season, according to 247Sports.
4-Star Tight End Mavin Saunders (Houston, Texas)
The Florida State Seminoles picked up a dangerous playmaker when Kinkaid High School tight end Mavin Saunders committed to the program in June. The 6'6", 220-pound Texan remains a project at the position, mainly due to his slender physique, but he has all the tools to become one of the ACC's most feared red-zone threats.
Sanders has excellent hands and comes down with contested balls. He fights for position in the end zone, dominates space despite unrefined route-running skills and gets skyward with ease.
Before declaring his intentions to attend Florida State, he considered offers from Ole Miss, Ohio State, Arkansas and Michigan State. He is a massive target who attacks the secondary with long strides.
He caught five passes, including one for a score, in a Sept. 13 win over Houston Christian.
4-Star Wide Receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn.)
Josh Malone is among the most intriguing wide receiver prospects still uncommitted in the 2014 class. He runs a sub-4.5 40-yard-dash, per 247Sports, and looks even faster when his 6'3", 190-pound frame is galloping toward the goal line.
The Station Camp High School star exploits opponents when he sets up shop in the back of the end zone to await a jump ball. He is powerful enough to punish the heart of a defense with polished crossing patterns that lead to big plays.
He has posted impressive performances through three contests this season. Malone has caught 11 passes for 197 receiving yards to go with five total touchdowns, according to 247Sports.
He has upcoming official visits to Tennessee, Florida State and Georgia, per 247Sports.