Dana Holgorsen and receivers coach Lonnie Galloway have been back and forth as to who is going to be the man or even a starter heading into the 2015 season. The easy answer for those looking on the outside in and even the coaches themselves would be to go with experience. That was the case heading into fall camp this year but now it looks as if many could contribute or even be a "Go-To" option.
Senior Jordan Thompson approached fall camp as one of the most seasoned veterans on the offensive side of the ball. Thompson has played in 36 career games and started 13 of those with steady progression coming from each season. He had a solid junior campaign hauling in 49 passes for 598 yards and 2 touchdowns providing a relief for the two receivers gone to the NFL in Mario Alford and Kevin White. His height and weight listed at just 5-7 ,176 pounds the pass catcher from Katy, Texas isn't the biggest guy around making him a huge mismatch for slower linebackers and safety's. The question is can Thompson be more than a third or fourth option in the offense?
Daikiel Shorts Jr. isn't far behind. The wide receiver is entering his third year in Dana Holgorsen's system and has over 800 career receiving yards accompanied by 4 touchdowns. Then there is K.J Myers.The 6-2, 196 pound Florida native has just 17 receptions for 135 yards throughout his career with a touchdown catch coming in mop up duty but has received high praise from the coaching staff for sticking with it and knowing his role among the receiver corps.
These three have in common not only that they've all started at one time or another since joining the Big 12 but that they are all listed at the slot Y position fighting for time leaving camp. Shorts and Myers previously held roles as starters from the outside and slot opposite to Thompson.
With the surfacing of Ka'Raun White, Gary Jennings, and Jovon Durante the veterans have been deemed to play a bigger part from the slot in a position they have all played at one point or another during their career for the Mountaineers. The newcomers however have made it possible to have speedy raw physicality on the outside while having a group on the inside who wont miss a beat.
Ka'Raun White is the younger brother of former Mountaineer All-and is a mirror image of him (including the dreadlocks). A redshirt sophomore standing at 6-2, 190 pounds White brings football pedigree and physical presence to the position. His statistics and a redshirt at Lackawanna Junior College aren't eye popping but the film and frame show his readiness for the FBS level.
"And Ka'Raun is a lot like Kevin," he continued. "You can't put that tag on him right now, but if you go back to two years ago when Kevin first got here and compared them, this one might be better - at this point. He's very smooth."
The other two Jennings and Durante were both highly sought after recruits and possibly the prizes of this recruiting class. Jennings turned down the likes of Notre Dame and Durante is a four star recruit out of Miramar High School in Miami, Florida. The duo both stand over 6 feet tall and along with White have received many compliments from Dana Holgorsen throughout camp for their ability.
"If they develop then they will be as good as any of the other ones we've had, collectively," he said. "I like their bodies. I like the talent. If you go back and really figure out why Kevin White had the year he had, he developed and took the next step, there is no question about that."
In terms of both outside receiver responsibilities while White and Durante fight for center stage at the X position the inexperienced Jennings is in a deadlock with Shelton Gibson for the Z role. The former state of Ohio high school standout took a redshirt in 2013 before showing his potential in a limited role behind Mario Alford last fall. He showed flashes of his deep ball ability to stretch the field not only in the 2014 Liberty Bowl but also during spring practices where he was even regarded as one of the next 1,000 yard receivers in a WVU Air Raid Offense.Though criticism hit during camp for trying a little to hard he is not out of the competition to be the next man up on the outside.
A new depth chart has come forth and nothing can ever be said to be set in stone after all in 2013 when another pair of star studded athletes left there were 5 receivers with over 400 yards receiving. One could also look to all-purpose back Wendell Smallwood after he made a splash from the slot and catching out of the backfield a season ago. Whatever the case may be somebody will step up and this unit can be looked at just as deep as some of the defensive positions on this years roster.
"The whole thing about my group is that there are so many unknowns, except for (junior wide receiver) Daikiel (Shorts Jr.) and (senior wide receiver) Jordan (Thompson) who have played. Now, you have to get everyone else on the same page with (junior quarterback) Skyler (Howard). They have to figure out the reps and the routes."