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2010 BYU Preview: Wide Receivers

27 July 2010 Brett Richins 17 Comments
BYU WR McKay Jacobson

BYU WR McKay Jacobson

BYU begins this upcoming football season with an abundance of riches at wide receiver.

The Cougars return all four members from last years primary rotation and add a promising star to the mix in 2010.

Don’t be surprised to see the receivers play a bigger role this year, seeing as the Cougars also start the season with freshman trying to replace Dennis Pitta and Andrew George at tight end.

Cougar fans are likely to see more three and even four receiver sets.

Here’s how things break down at wide receiver:

I selected McKay Jacobson (5-11, 189 Jr) as a preseason first-team All-MWC receiver because I expect him to have a monster year in 2010.

Look for Jacobson to see significant time in the slot matched up with opposing safeties, as the Cougars seek to exploit McKay’s speed more this season.

Fresh from his mission in 2009, Jacobson caught 23 passes for 556 yards and four touchdowns. However, as is often the case for returned missionaries in their first year back, McKay struggled with injury. He suffered a pulled hamstring that slowed him up and forced him to miss four games.

This year Jacobson enters fall camp in top form and ready to take his game to the next level. He has been working hard in the off season with the new quarterbacks. Word leaking out of player workouts this summer is that he has formed a particularly strong bond with Jake Heaps.

Another receiver that is poised to lift his game in 2010 is O’Neill Chambers (6-2, 210 Jr). Last season Chambers pulled in 32 receptions which was second on the team behind Dennis Pitta. He tallied 376 yards and one touchdown receiving, while adding 618 yards in punt and kick returns including a MWC record 97-yard punt return against UNLV.

News from summer workouts indicates that Chambers has been working on plays that will make him more effective this year and allow him to maximize his size and strength advantage on opposing corners.

He may also be relieved from return duties, depending on how some of the newcomers perform in that role, thereby allowing him to more readily concentrate on his receiving duties. Don’t be surprised to see to Chambers bust out this season.

Ross Apo (6-5, 200 Fr) is a star that BYU will not be able to keep under wraps. He has put on a show in player workouts and the reports say that defenders have had no answer for him this summer. He has demonstrated excellent speed, great route running, sticky hands and an uncanny ability to go up over any defender to get the ball.

I thought that perhaps Apo would be a candidate to redshirt this year seeing that he underwent off season shoulder surgery. I was dead wrong. In fact, don’t be surprised to see Ross on the field a lot this season. His shoulder is reportedly 100 percent and despite being a true freshman he appears to be too much of a talent to keep on the sideline.

Its also worth noting that Apo and Heaps have built a chemistry over the past couple of years at camps, and that has continued to develop this summer. If  Heaps wins the quarterback battle, Apo could see more time on the field.

Cougar fans, think about Apo and Chambers playing wide with Jacobson in the slot. Then throw in JJ and/or Juice in the backfield and this offense could be fun to watch.

Luke Ashworth (6-2, 196 Sr) brings his steady play and senior leadership to the table this season. Last year as a junior Luke caught 28 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns, all career highs. Look for him to continue his role as a significant contributor in the receiving rotation, building on last years success.

Spencer Hafoka (6-0, 196 Jr) bounced back from what appeared to be a career ending sickness to make a solid contribution in 2009, including making four starts for the injured Jacobson. As a sophomore Spencer caught 16 passes, one for a touchdown. It will be interesting to see the strides Spencer makes as a receiver with healthy spring and fall camps under his belt.

Another intriguing addition to the receiver corp this year is redshirt freshman Cody Hoffman (6-4, 200 Fr). Hoffman certainly passes the eyeball test and it will be interesting to see if that translates to the field. Hoffman played at a smaller school in California and came to BYU last year as a raw player with a lot of upside.

JD Falslev (5-8, 173 Fr) also redshirted last year after walking on to the program. He demonstrated promise and turned coaches heads as a return man last year on the practice field and may get his chance to show it on the playing field this year. He’s also an interesting prospect as a receiver in the slot.

Jordan Smith (6-4, 190 Fr) is another receiver with good size who returns to the program in 2010. The former Spanish Fork High star is back from his mission in time for fall camp. Jordan redshirted in 2007.

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17 Comments »

  • Mike Worlton said:

    Thanks for your great updates Brett. I feel like all of your articles are must reads for me. Between your posts and Greg Wrebell’s on CougarTracks, I feel like I am getting all the premium content from respected insiders that I can hope for.

  • j said:

    hafoka didn’t take jacobson’s spot when jacobson was injured. he play’s the x with chambers. ashworth got the starts for jacobson in his absence at the z. Great article though. really good group. and all will be back next year with the exception of ashworth!:)

  • DJ said:

    Has anyone heard if Sherman Paige has decided to try and come to BYU? I have seen some video of him and he looks really good.

  • Spencer said:

    That’s sweet how u found out all of the insider stuff on a lot of the recievers. It seems like a few of the top guys are finding a connection with heaps. Do u think that’s because he is putting in more time? I mean I’d never question either of the other quarterbacks work ethic but heaps has been know to practice things until he gets them down pat. I like that apo isn’t letting the fact that he is a freshman or that he is just done recovering from a surgery take him out of the race for that 3rd reciever spot. That would be so sweet to have him play.

  • Paul said:

    What about Thompson? We saw flashes last year that he could play, going over the top on several plays late in games. He showed some speed and he certainly has size.

    A lot of big long receivers this year. Now if only they can get open against TCU and Utah. I hope these guys watched alot of film of receivers getting seperation with their body position, how to set up the defender coming out of their breaks, and position with the ball in the air. Pitta and Collie were the masters.

    Chambers should have a breakout season. He has only one route that he is thrown to consistantly, the slant. He needs more routes that he can get seperation. I loved his toughness last year. Needs to secure the ball. Fumbled against OU, didn’t cost the win but was still big.

    Jacobson looks like he can run, if he stays healthy he should be a true deep threat, like the days of Watkins.

    Ashworth could be the poor mans Collie this year. He showed the ability to get open against man. Really came on late in the year. Had a great game against OSU.

    Hafoka showed good quickness ALA.. Nate Miekle Needs to learn to sit in the zone better.

    If the timing is on with the QB (who ever it is) and they are all breaking on point, it should be a fantastic year for receivers this year.

  • kiyoshige said:

    The problem with the new guys is inexperience as well as pressure. Ashworth, Jacobsen and Chambers have proven experience and reliability and so they will be hard to keep off of the field for those reasons alone. Hafoka has logged in plenty of minutes as well. If I were Apo or Hoffman I would just be thinking three things. 1. BE READY. For injury or for whatever. 2. CATCH THE BALL. One dropped pass and their season is over. 3. DON’T FUMBLE. See #2. I think if they run the wrong route or make a wrong cut that causes an interception they might be able to overcome that mistake. But dropped passes and fumbles will not be forgiven quickly.

  • Brett Richins said:

    @ Paul,

    Brett is on a mission.

  • abacus said:

    I think that by the end of the season the starters will be Chambers, Jacobsen, Apo, and Hoffman. I see most of the stats going to these four.

    As reliable and adequate as Hafoka and Ashworth are, I see bigger plays coming from the above receivers, and I think that Hafoka and Ashworth will end up getting pushed to the side eventually.

    No one is really talking about this much, but I see these guys as being the best four receivers BYU has ever put on the field at one time. And there are others on missions too!

    The pipeline for WR is stacked. If Heaps can convince his buddy Kasen Williams to come to Provo, BYU might have the best WR corps in the nation…

    Good times are coming.

  • abacus said:

    Oh yeah, and Brett Thompson is Austin Collie part II…

  • BYU DUDE said:

    BRETT RICHINS Good stuff!!!

    After watching several practices in the indoor facility Ross Apo is unstoppable he has freaky long arms and big hands 6″4 200 lbs and a 4.39 forty. It was great talking to you on the Phone in Vegas. I know you suck at golf, but I have to see it for my self, I here when you put your ball on the tee you can slice a golf ball, so far that the other players in your group scream incoming. A 360 degree slice wow I have to see it.

  • Seasider said:

    Our current crop of WR’s will give our offense a chance to be more vertical than it has been a while. The Tight-ends will still be a favorite target for the QB as that is how the offense is set up but guys like Apo and Jacobson will be extremely valuable in our games against TCU and Utah.

  • J 2 said:

    With all that talent, I would like to see a 5 receiver set every once in a while. No reason not to take advantage of the riches at receiver.

  • Nate said:

    Loved the inside analysis. Our receivers are huuuge (hopefully that translates to more success on the field).

    I agree with the other posters about Chamber’s routes. I felt the same way when Reed was in that position (I think it’s the X receiver). Seems like that receiver is always the second or third option and the routes always consist of slants or curls. Is it just tougher to make the throw to that side of the field?

    Thanks for the article.

  • Trey said:

    You’re right Brett, we are stacked at WR!! I’ve always loved watching Jacobsen play. Before the mish, he was so wicked fast. I thought he was gonna tear it up when he got back, but he did have some mission rust and Austin Collie was there. But he is a Jr and so is Chambers. Those two guys alone would be awesome enough, but we got a slew of awesome talent in that position. I feel bad for the ones who will have to ride the pine, not because they are not very good or don’t work hard enough, but because the talent pool is so good. This is exciting.

  • Ben said:

    Oh man, i can’t wait to see the Cougars line in a 4 or 5 wide set with some of these receivers. Unstoppable!

  • Brett Richins said:

    BYU DUDE,

    Thank you, it was great to visit with you as well! Everyone on the course is in danger when I’m out there! LOL! I know Bronco has an aversion to playing freshman in skill positions, but Ross and Jake are so talented it’s going to be hard to keep them off the field. They are going to be a deadly combination.

    -Brett

  • detmer14 www.realfansstand.com said:

    Thanks for the info guys, appreciate it.

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