SFA Football 2012 Preview: Wide Receivers
Aug. 16, 2012
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Few teams in the nation utilize positional depth better than the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks do at wide receiver, with nine players catching at least 12 passes in 2011. Fortunately for the `Jacks this season, eight of those nine are returning to the roster.
Having thrown more passes than any team in the country over the past three years, the `Jacks have been blessed with arguably the best group of wide outs in the nation to haul in throws in that time. That will once again be the case for quarterback Brady Attaway in 2012 with a deep group of skill players at all four spots, including a pair of all-America choices in seniors Cordell Roberson and Gralyn Crawford, each of whom are poised to finish off a complete rewrite of SFA's all-time receiving records.
That duo occupied the top two spots in the Southland Conference in receptions per game a year ago, while Roberson's 29 career touchdown catches currently ranks tied for first in all of Division I football - FCS and FBS - among active players for his career, and is just three behind James Noble's SFA record of 32.
Meanwhile, Crawford, who broke SFA's all-time receptions record last year, enters the season needing just three receptions to become the first SFA receiver ever with 200 catches in his career and just 33 receptions to move past Southeastern Louisiana's Simmie Yarborough for the Southland Conference all-time receptions record.
But Crawford and Roberson are not the only threats the `Jacks will pit against opposing defensive backs. Marquis Mosley and Kris Lott each caught over 350 yards worth of passes last season and with added attention likely being paid to Crawford and Roberson, those two could be in line for significant increases in their production. Lott was an honorable mention all-SLC choice as a redshirt freshman in 2010, while Mosley looks to be Roberson's heir apparent as SFA's go-to deep threat next year.
On the outside Dominique Carroll and DJ Ward will provide another big target for Attaway on the outside, aside from Roberson and Mosley. Carroll is returning to the field after suffering a knee injury late in fall practice last season while Ward is a walk-on who has done nothing but turns heads in practice since his arrival.
But where the `Jacks may be the most deep is with its slot receivers, boasting a group of quick, athletic receivers with electric ability with the ball in their hands; the exception to that rule, however, is Ryan Gambel whose 6-3, 225-pound frame and sure hands made him one of Attaway's favorite targets in 2011, finishing fifth on the team in both receptions and yards, while hauling in three scores again.
Mike Brooks, Calib Hadnot and Tyler Boyd all saw time as freshmen in 2011, combining for over 330 yards receiving and three scores in split duty. Each brings tremendous speed to the field, while Hadnot and Boyd each are used to making big plays with the ball in their hands after having played quarterback at 2A high schools Woodville and Daingerfield.
The `Jacks will also do its best to work a group of freshmen into the mix, including redshirt freshman Braxton Bearden, De'Vante Lacy, Lamarcus Brown and Aaron Thomas. Lacy and Thomas each had standout high school careers and are versatile enough to see time at any of the four receiver positions.
Aug. 13 - Quarterbacks