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Examining the Chicago Rush Receiving Corps: Fan Take
When I attended the Chicago Rush Media Day on March 5, there was a lot discussed among Rush players and coaches about the improvements on the offensive side of the ball. As the Rush prepare to begin their 2012 campaign in the Arena Football League on March 10, let's take a look at their wide receivers.
Returning to the team is some guy named Reggie Gray. I don't know if Rush fans have ever heard of him, but I guess he had an okay season in Chicago last year. Nothing real special. Nothing to write home about…
…if you LIVE IN A CAVE!
Gray only set the league on fire in 2011, setting franchise records for points scored (322), receptions (130), and receiving yards (1,969). His 53 touchdowns tied Bobby Sippio's team record. In one game against the Iowa Barnstormers last season, he returned back-to-back kickoffs for touchdowns—another franchise record. He capped his tremendous rookie season by being named second team All-Arena and earning a spot on the league's All-Ironman team.
Gray should obliterate Etu Molden's franchise record for career points scored (446) and Sippio's team record for career receiving touchdowns (70) this season. He also has a real legitimate shot at Molden's career mark for receiving yards (3,293), needing only 1,325 this season to surpass him on the all-time list.
Other than that, though, he doesn't do much for the team. Slacker.
New to the Rush this season is Terrance Turner, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver out of Indiana. The addition of Turner to the team immediately piqued my interest because I hail from Indianapolis and am a fan of the Hoosier football team. As such, I remember Turner from his days in crimson and cream, and he was great.
In 41 games with the Hoosiers, he brought down 143 receptions for 1,436 yards—nearly a perfect 10-yard-per-catch average. He also scored four touchdowns which, off the top of my head, was probably something close to 99 percent of IU's total touchdowns while he was there.
Turner spent some time with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and now will make his Arena Football League debut with the Rush. He's a big receiver—he's got Reggie by about four inches and 45 pounds—so he'll be a great complement to Big Play.
At the 2011 NFL Combine, his whopping 41-inch vertical leap was second-best among all wide receivers, so he can get that big frame off the ground, too. He was also a top performer in the three-cone drill and in the broad jump. That combination of size and athleticism should make him a potent threat on the 50-yard field.
Turner will wear No. 2 on his jersey.
Jared Perry is a guy about whom his teammates had nothing but great things to say during Media Day. At 6-foot-1, he's a few inches taller than Gray, and at 180 pounds, he has about the same build. What this rookie out of Missouri can do, apparently, is fly.
First team All-Arena jack linebacker Kelvin Morris joked that he doesn't even like to run with Perry at practice because Perry makes him look so slow by comparison. First team All-Arena defensive back and AFL Defensive Player of the Year Vic Hall described Perry as a challenge for him to cover in practice. Said offensive lineman T.J. Watkins, "Yeah, that kid can run."
Morris made sure that I understood that Perry can catch, too, describing some circus catches he has made in practice.
After his career at Mizzou, where he caught 137 passes for for 1,844 yards and 13 touchdowns while also being named to the 2006 Big 12 All-Freshman team, Perry, like Turner, spent some time with the Eagles in the NFL before joining the Rush this season for his AFL debut.
Perry will wear No. 6 for Chicago this season.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame of Marquis Hamilton will mirror Turner nicely. His 127 receptions during his career at Iowa State rank seventh all-time in Cyclones history, and he led ISU during his senior season in 2009 with 50 receptions on the year. In his four years in Ames, Iowa, he totaled 1,509 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Hamilton signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2010 before making his Arena Football League debut with the Iowa Barnstormers in 2011. In nine games with the 'Stormers, Hamilton tallied 69 receptions for 671 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning the team's Rookie of the Year award. He also added 36 rushing yards on just two attempts, including a 25-yarder. Just in case that wasn't enough, he contributed four tackles and four assists on defense.
I remember Hamilton from last season because in that same game in which Gray ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns, Hamilton was busy blowing up the Rush defensive backfield for 11 receptions, 122 yards, and a touchdown. I was cursing his name that day in the same breath that I was cursing the name of Iowa receiver Jesse Schmidt. It's no wonder that Hamilton caught the attention of the Chicago coaching staff after that performance. I'm happy to see him in blue and silver now, so I can stop trying to put a voodoo hex on him when he does stuff like that at Allstate Arena.
Hamilton will wear No. 16 when he takes the field.
These guys should give the Rush offense a much-needed boost after the passing offense finished at the bottom of the league in 2011, and the total offense was second-to-last. Chicago now has a nice variety of speed, size, quickness, athleticism, and experience at wide receiver.
It's no wonder that quarterback Russ Michna is excited about this season.
The author is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also holds media credentials with the Chicago Rush. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.
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