BYU Football: Who Will Emerge as Cougars' Top Receiver?
BYU has plenty of depth at wide receiver this season, and although the Cougars will be without players Cody Hoffman, Skyler Ridley and JD Falslev, several receivers own the potential to replace those vacancies.
But who will emerge as Taysom Hill's No. 1 target? Ross Apo or Mitch Mathews might, as well as any number of the transfer wideouts, among others.
Here are BYU's top wide receivers.
Mitch Mathews was BYU's top underclassman receiver in 2013, catching 23 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns. He lacks elite strength but has the speed and height to be a solid option in the passing game.
At 6'6", he has the size to bring down higher passes than other receivers. His ability to create space directly off the line of scrimmage will be a factor in his success. If he can establish himself as a consistent long-distance weapon, Mathews will be key in the Cougars offense.
Nick Kurtz was one of the nation's most sought-after JUCO prospects, and his decision to transfer to BYU was huge. As a freshman at Grossmont College in El Cajun, Calif., he totaled 49 receptions for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns. 247Sports ranked him as the nation's sixth-best junior college receiver of his class.
As a 6'6" target, he has incredible size. With two talented receivers on BYU's roster whose cumulative height is 13 feet (Kurtz and Mathews), the Cougars offense will pose matchup nightmares for opposing secondaries.
Ross Apo has struggled with a lingering shoulder injury over the past few seasons, but his ability to still play shows a lot about his character. If he is fully healthy, there is no doubt that he has the talent to lead BYU in receiving.
Consistency has been his biggest issue, but that may be due to his injuries. Rehabbing from surgery should be Apo's biggest focus over the offseason, and from there, being a playmaker will take care of itself.
As a transfer with years of FBS experience under his belt, Jordan Leslie could be a huge addition to the receiving corps. In three seasons at UTEP, he caught 125 passes for 2,015 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He will leave El Paso, Teas with a degree and will be immediately eligible to play under former Miner—and current Cougar—coach Guy Holliday.
"I had the chance to be coached by Coach Holliday, and I owe a lot of my success to him." Leslie told Brett Hein of LoyalCougars.com. "He taught me fundamentals and discipline that allowed me to be successful on and off the field. Being with a coach for that long, you learn to really appreciate and respect him. I trust Coach a lot, and I know he always has my best interest in mind."
Other Notable Receivers
Keanu Nelson: After receiving limited playing time at Stanford, Nelson will be immediately eligible to play this fall. Look for the speedster to be a JD Falslev-like player: a slot receiver with starter potential.
Devon Blackmon: He is a freak athlete who transferred from Oregon after an injury. He spent time at Riverside City College and will bring his talents to Provo. Watch for him on special teams, as well as at wide receiver.
Michael Davis: He played as a defensive back last season and is adjusting back to his natural position this summer. He could be the dark-horse star for BYU this year.
Kurt Henderson: Despite being buried in the depth chart last season, Henderson led the Cougars in yards per reception, averaging more than 20. Like Davis, he could end up being the surprise star.