After a volatile passing game and quarterback situation last season played a significant part in UConn's woes, the wide receivers have a chance to turn what has been one of UConn's major weaknesses over the last decade into a strength. The position is very experienced and contains a good mix of skill sets. With Sophomore Casey Cochran penciled in as the starter, the Huskies' passing game looks to continue its momentum after throwing for a school record 461 yards and 4 touchdowns in the last game of the season against Memphis in 2013.
UConn loses their 3rd leading receiver from last year, the injury-plagued Shakim Phillips, returning just about every receiving yard produced last year. It was hard on the unit to go through 2013 with 3 different starting quarterbacks, who threw for 18 interceptions and just 16 touchdowns, but with a new, energetic coaching staff and some semblance of stability under center, wide receiver production should be much improved in 2014.
Here's a look at who we'll see at wide out for the Huskies this year, from the starters to the depth behind them.
Geremy Davis, (R) Senior, 6'3, 216
Davis was more than UConn's leading receiver last year. With 1,085 yards, he became UConn's first receiver since joining the FBS to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. An All-Academic selection and one of four captains, Davis is in for another historic season after having a great summer working with Cochran and key backup QB Chandler Whitmer.
As a receiver, Geremy Davis has size, reliable hands, and is a sound route-runner. He has great experience as he has been UConn's leading receiver in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Though he doesn't have true breakaway speed, he still managed to average 15.3 yards per catch last season, hauling in 63% of passes thrown his way. With a big senior year, he has the ability to play his way onto NFL draft boards.
According to Diaco, Davis has "incredibly high character" and is an "incredible ambassador for the university." Geremy Davis, through his leadership both on and off the filed, is the reason to have hope for UConn's passing game this year.
Deshon Foxx, Senior, 5'10, 172
In just his second year as a wide receiver, having come to UConn as a running back, Deshon Foxx's move to the outside didn't come without some growing pains. UConn's second leading receiver from last year, with 43 catches for 534 yards and 2 touchdowns, was prone to some dropped passes as injuries to Shakim Phillips pushed him into the starting lineup. Foxx showed tremendous improvement by the end of the season, closing 2013 with back to back 100 yard campaigns.
Foxx's strengths complement Geremy Davis well as Foxx has game-breaking speed and quickness and can change the game with the ball in his hands. Foxx stretches the defense and Davis is best in-between the numbers. Deshon Foxx will return kicks as well, and even had a few carries on some trick plays last season. He brings an element of creativity to this offense that Offensive coordinator Mike Cummings will most certainly use to his advantage.
Kamal Abrams, (R) Junior, 5'11, 182
Abrams, part of the team since 2011, has the edge when it comes to experience over the rest of the receivers in the group. Though he hasn't seen too much field action, tallying just 4 catches for 34 yards, he did catch a touchdown against number #20 Louisville in a loss last year.
Dhameer Bradley, Sophomore, 5'9, 169
As a true freshman, the 3-star recruit moved into the starting line up for the last 3 games of the season. He is one of the most athletic players on the roster and a true speedster. Bradley could be very effective operating in the slot, providing a major mismatch for cover linebackers.
Noel Thomas, Sophomore, 6'1, 187
Also a 3-star recruit, Thomas did not see much action last year, catching just 3 passes. Out of Norwalk, CT, he will certainly have his opportunities to make an impact for this offense.
Thomas Lucas, (R) Freshman, 6'2, 198
In his first year of eligibility, Lucas has made a great impact on the coaches making the two-deep at the end of summer practices. He has good size and I am excited to see what kind of role he plays this year.
Brian Lemelle, Sophomore, 5'10", 165
As a true freshman, Brian Lemelle finished with 16 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He started the season on punt-return duty but saw more time at wide receiver later in the season. From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Lemelle was a Parade All-America Honorable Mention.
One of these guys is going to have to step up and fill this vacuum as the 3rd option from the wide receiver position. Each of them will have there opportunity to contribute, but I expect the speedster Dhameer Bradley to make some long strides in his second year of college football along Kamal Abrams, with his experience, to provide the most offense from this group. This depth, together with Davis and Foxx, makes for what could be one of the best receiving corps for UConn in a decade.