Just like at running back, the Horned Frogs are simply STACKED at receiver. The difference is that many of the most talented pass-catchers won't be around as long as many of the ball-carriers.
The good news for Andy Dalton is that eight of the Frogs' top ten receivers from '09 are back this fall, including the top three- all of whom are seniors. Jeremy Kerley led the team last year, nabbing 44 passes for 532 yards and 2 TD's through the air. Just behind him were Jimmy Young (33 catches, 517 yards, 3 TD) and Bart Johnson (33 catches, 410 yards, 2 TD). As was the case with Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley in our inventory of the Frog running backs, I'd be very pleased if these three receivers comprised the entirety of Dalton's aerial options, but they are just the beginning.
Antoine Hicks is the biggest name outside of those three- it's hard to believe he'll be a junior this fall, but it's true. He led the team with 6 receiving touchdowns last year (including his absolutely, completely bananas catch for the go-ahead score against Clemson) while racking up 478 yards on 23 catches. He will likely be the marquee name for the receiving corps for 2011, but he also may challenge for top-billing this fall, too.
Rounding out the group of guys making up the list of Dalton's favorite targets is senior Curtis Clay who, like Johnson, originally joined the Frogs as a walk-on. Clay gathered in 18 receptions a year ago for 241 yards and 3 touchdowns.
There are four returning lettermen that will try to step into Dalton's cadre of regular targets. Sophomore Skye Dawson rushed for 111 yards on reverses as a true freshman last fall, but with a year in the system, he'll likely be able to showcase his exceptional athleticism in a larger percentage of the offensive playbook this year. Junior Jonathan Jones caught 3 passes for 30 yards last year, but at 6'4" has the potential to become a vital part of the passing game. Senior Alonzo Adams has been used primarily in blocking situations, but that too could change this year. We haven't seen much of sophomore Sam Shutt yet, but there's got to be a reason the coaching staff went all the way to Savannah, Tennessee to recruit him.
Josh Boyce has waited a long time to see game action as a Horned Frog. The speedy redshirt freshman from Copperas Cove graduated high school a semester early (along with his HS teammate Tanner Brock), so he's already been on campus for a year and a half. During his time at Cove, he was described as "clutch", and he's been described as "Kerley-esque" during his time at TCU, so Boyce may very well be a break-out player in 2010 and a star in the future.
There are two true freshman who are listed at wide receiver, but both of them are also listed at other positions. Curtis Carter, as mentioned in the running back breakddown, is also listed at that position. Antonio Graves, a versatile athlete out of Texarkana, is also listed as a safety. Ethan Grant could also potentially slide over to receiver from tailback.
On top of the returning talent at wideout, all of the tight ends from the '09 team return this fall, but we will have to wait and see if the position is utilized more this year. Starter Evan Frosch, a senior, hauled in just 3 catches for 33 yards while junior Logan Brock caught 5 for 67. Junior Robert Deck (a walk-on) and sophomores Corey Fuller and Walker Dille also return after receiving limited playing time a year ago. True freshman Stephen Bryant, who played quarterback and safety in a heralded high school career in New Deal, TX, joins the tight end corps this year.
Up Next: Offensive Line