As the Oregon State Beavers prepare for the 2009 opener against Portland State, many new starters look to shine and impress in the upcoming season. One of the main public perceptions is that the Beavs lack experience and talent at the receiving position.
Gone are Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales. Gone are the 1,783 yards and 15 touchdowns compiled by the duo. Gone is the first team Pac-10 honor Stroughter received.
The only proven receiver on the Beavers is Junior speedster James Rodgers. Rodgers had a breakout sophomore campaign receiving-wise, but was already a household name in Corvallis based on his rushing heroics. In just two seasons, Rodgers is close to 1,000 yards on the ground...as a receiver!
Junior Darrell Catchings, who had a strong freshman season catching 33 passes, took a major backseat in 2008, as he only had seven receptions. Catchings was regarded as the go-to guy for 2009 as he had an amazing spring practice.
He combines great speed, hands, and strong route running, but a wrist injury has forced him to take time off and is expected back mid-September at the earliest. Catchings is known as a Sammie Stroughter clone.
With the exception of Catchings and Rodgers, the Beavers have virtually no experience at the receiving position.
Counting Catchings and Rodgers, the Beavers look to play as many as seven at receiver.
Damola Adeniji is the only senior, and should start in place of Catchings. Adeniji has great size, 6' 3" and 220 pounds, and has good leaping ability.
Junior Casey Kjos looks to fill the void left by Morales. Both are possession guys with good size and the ability to help out with run blocking.
Redshirt Freshman Jordan Bishop has really impressed in fall practice, and looks to split time with Kjos. Bishop, has great size, he is also 6' 3", runs a 4.5 forty, and has showed terrific athleticism while making show acrobatic catches.
True freshman Markus Wheaton, who also runs a 4.5 forty, has came on and impressed with his agility and speed. Head coach Mike Riley does not usually play true freshmen, but is seriously considering using Wheaton early due to his game-breaking ability.
The other receiver who should get some time is Geno Munoz, he like Bishop, is a redshirt freshman. Munoz is still a year away, but is being groomed to be the go-to guy of the future.
The 2009 Oregon State receiving core does lack experience, but the height and athleticism this unit does have is unique compared to the talent in year's past.
The start may be a little slow, but one things for sure: the Beavers are recruiting better players and look to continue producing first teammers at the receiving position for years to come.