Can this year's group of receivers, led by Geremy Davis, finally make UConn's passing game a strength?
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 it's strength. The position is chock full of experience and contains a variety 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 only loses their 3rd leading receiver from last year, the injury-plagued transfer Shakim Phillips, returning just about every receiving yard produced last year. It was hard on the unit going through 2013 with 3 different starting quarterbacks throwing for 18 interceptions and just 16 touchdowns over the course of the season, but with a new and energetic coaching staff under Bob Diaco and UConn's 3 year bowl drought, this husky team, or more specifically its passing attack, is extra motivated to fix what it did wrong last year and get back to the post season.
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 great size, reliable hands, and is a sound route-runner. He has great experience as he has been UConn's leading receiver both his sophomore and junior seasons. Though he doesn't have true break-away 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 and started his career in the backfield, 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 happen to be Geremy Davis' weaknesses, as Foxx has game-breaking speed and quickness and can change the game with the ball in his hands. The two starters complement each other well as 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 aspect 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, being apart 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 as a true speedster. He 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, Thomas 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 impact he can have for the Huskies.
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 these guys 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.