If there is one unit on the Idaho football team that will bear little to no resemblance to its 2012 version it’s probably the wide receivers. Only two of the five top pass-catchers from 2012 return — Najee Lovett and Roman Runner who combined for 68 receptions last season.
Meaning, Idaho enters its 2013 campaign having to craft a receiving corps from inexperience and some youth. But to Idaho coach Paul Petrino that surely won’t be a problem. Petrino spent a majority of his assistant coaching career being hands on with wide receivers, from Louisville to Illinois to Arkansas Petrino oversaw numerous receivers who now perfect their craft in the NFL. Harry Douglas (Louisville), AJ Jenkins (Illinois) and Cobi Hamilton (Arkansas) are names that come to the forefront of the mind.
Lovett will no doubt be a focal point in the passing game in the fall. The 5-9 speedster showed versatility in 2012 moving from the outside to the slot and even becoming a potent redzone weapon, leading all skill position players with six touchdowns. Runner has showed flashes but it wasn’t until the spring game when he truly broke out, catching 6 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Petrino has also been high on Maurice Trotter, name-dropping him on numerous occasions as a player who came on strong during the spring. The senior has yet to catch a pass in his Vandal career.
Sophomore Marquan Major and redshirt freshman Deon Watson are also returning options who had solid spring game performances, and who could provide reliable depth at outside receiver. Watson caught five balls in the spring game, and his 6-foot-3 frame does him favors when it comes to needing redzone targets.
Idaho will have three new additions in the fall — Junior college receiver Dezmon Epps and true freshmen Jacob Sannon and Trent Cowan. Epps and Sannon present the scat-back/slot receiver type options to the offense, with Petrino mentioning that Epps will have an impact in the special teams game as well. Trent Cowan, brother of former Idaho punter Bobby Cowan, could have an opportunity to break through the depth chart right away based on his height and ability to get down the field. Trent will be a 6-4, 195 pound true freshman. Imagine the room that he has to grow.
The only thing that is certain about this group of players is that there will be competition and there will be a lot of it.
Receivers at a glance
Departed players: Mike Scott, Justin Veltung, Marsel Posey, Jahrie Level
Returning players: Roman Runner – Sr., Maurice Trotter – Sr., Najee Lovett – Sr., Marquan Major – So., Deon Watson – RFr., Kyren Watts – Sr.
Incoming players: Dezmon Epps – Jr., Jacob Sannon – Fr., Trent Cowan – Fr.
Our projected depth chart:
A true Split-end, flanker and slot depth chart is difficult because it’s yet to be seen how coaches will work in all of these players during fall practice, but we certainly see up to eight or nine guys vying for what will realistically be five spots where guys will regularly see snaps. Najee Lovett should be the only one who comes in to fall camp with a real leg up on the rest.