As the countdown to college football continues and fall nights creep closer, our quest to cover each position group is the perfect way to kill some time. I’ve enjoyed reviewing the QBs and RBs, and I thank you for stopping by to read those articles.
Today I wanted to take a look at the wide receivers and tight ends. For as much concern there is at RB, the WRs and TEs appear to be a position of strength.
Key departures: Ventell Bryant, Sean Ryan, Brodrick Yancy, Chris Myarick
Key additions: Kwesi Evans, De’Von Fox, Jose Barbon, Tyler Sear
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Ventell Bryant lead the team last year in receptions and receiving yards. He had an up and down tenure at Temple, sometimes disappearing from games, other times showing off a skill set that would make him a slam dunk NFL talent. I always waited for him to put it all together, but he lacked consistency. Not for a lack of effort. Something just didn’t click, even showing up “below the line” on some reports for Collins. He had some amazing plays during his career. He eventually got his shot at the NFL, signing with the Bengals this offseason. I think he can become a legitimate #2 or #3 WR. He will make a good living and do well for himself.
What remains behind him at Temple will have to fill in shoes for a #1 WR, a deep threat that can stretch the field. Gone is Sean Ryan, freshman wide receiver that looked like he could be the next Robby Anderson and a consistent deep threat as the season progressed. He went to West Virginia.
Isaiah Wright figures to the guy in this offense. He has been named to Athlon’s preseason All-American Team as a punt returner. And that isn’t all, he has been named to Sporting News preseason All-American Team. I fully expect a big season out of the future NFL wide receiver. He has yet to hit 1000 yards receiving, and this might be the season he does it. He will be the Owls primary threat, both receiving and rushing. If Carey and offensive coordinator Uremovich want to have a good first season, they need to get the ball in Wright’s hands as much as possible.
Branden Mack lead the team in touchdown last season and was second on the team in receiving yards. At 6’5″ and 215lb, Mack borders on tightend size, which makes him an ideal matchup threat in the redzone. No one can forget his touchdown grab with 49 seconds to go against an undefeated and #24 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats last season. He also is a special team’s ace, helping the unit with a blocked punt last season.
Between the two of them, the Owls return 1000 receiving yards and 8 receiving touchdowns.
Other wide receivers
The remaining returning wide receivers from last year who recorded a reception have a combined reception total of about 700 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. Freddie Johnson appeared to be hampered by an injury, so that was a limiting factor last year. Jones has done well in his limited opportunities. All of the wide receivers are 6’0″ and above, except for Travon Williams who is 5’8″. He and Randle Jones can play the slot well as the z receiver in 3 WR sets. I like Freddie Johnson on the outside and Mack lined up as a a WR/TE flex off the line of scrimmage. We will see how Uremovich figures out the sets but I suspect you will see a lot of 3 WR sets with Wright, Mack and Jones/Johnson. Jadan Blue figures to rotate in fairly regularly as well and he impressed with the limited opportunities he got. Travon Williams will get his shot, perhaps with a few carries mixed in as an H back/slot WR.
Freshman and redshirt freshman wide receivers
The wide receiver position is probably one of the more recruited positions in the country. Generally speaking, every recruiting class will feature at least 5 wide receivers/athletes. You need to build depth. At times there will be 4 wide receivers on the play. As offenses spread out more, offensive coordinators are tasked with finding quality depth. And it isn’t just recruiting, you have to coach them up too. They need to recognize defensive coverage, they need to be able to block, run crisp routes, help the QB if needed, find the soft spots in the zone, and most importantly, catch the ball.
The Owls appear to be have solid depth at WR. Here are the freshman and redshirt freshman:
Yes, yes, I know, ratings don’t mean anything once they step onto the field. This is just to give you an idea of what’s to come in the future. There is playing time available for the young Owls, for those ready for the opportunity. Behind Wright, Mack, Jones/Johnson, there exists a need for a true #4 and #5 WR. The Owls will likely rotate 8 or so wide receivers throughout the season and during games to keep the starters fresh.
Temple will have a new face in their TE position group, Sophomore transfer Tyler Sear. I am not sure about his eligibility for this upcoming season but appears likely to have to sit out 1 year due to transfer protocol. Sear was originally committed to the Owls as part of the 2017 but flipped to Pitt. He has since had a disagreement on his usage with the Pitt coaching staff and decided a new home was needed.
As for players that will definitely play a role, look no further than Kenny Yeboah. The redshirt junior stands at 6’5″ and 230lb an ideal pass-catching tight end who has show brief flashes of his athleticism and ability but has not put together a consistent season. There have been issues with injuries, coaching philosophy, and falling down the pecking order when it comes to game plans. 13 receptions for 154 yards is not a lot of production from your top returning TE. The college game in general doesn’t support the TE position as much, save from a few programs. NIU last year had a total of 230 yards out of their TEs. Not sure what that means regarding the game plan philosophy for the Owls this season.
Joining Yeboah and Sear are redshirt junior Sam Kramer, and a tri of redshirt freshman in Nick Picozzi, David Martin-Robinson, and Aaron Jarman. David Martin-Robinson is more of an athletic hybrid, playing many positions at his high school including RB, WR, and LB. He can do it all and has the highest upside in terms of seeing playing time. He did appear in 4 games last season as well. Aaron Jarman is another pass-catching tight end that can help stretch the field. Nick Picozzi is the younger brother of stud OL Vince Picozzi, who has been named to the preseason 3rd team All-AAC according to Athlon. He will likely need to add some weight if his listed weight of 215lb is accurate.
This all amounts to one thing, the Owls will likely have underclassmen rotating at TE this upcoming season with Yeboah. They don’t really have much experience during game days as pass-blockers, something they will have to do as part of Temple’s usual run-focused “Temple Tuff” offense. They met with offensive coordinator Uremovich in the spring, who basically told them all to bulk up and get ready to make some catches.
Position Outlook: B
Level of concern: Low-moderate, mostly at the TE position regarding depth and experience. Owls have plenty of WRs but need to establish a deep threat that can stretch the field.