Position Preview: Deep, inexperienced group of pass-catchers step in

As the season opener at Ohio State looms, we take a look at the wide receivers and tight ends, led by Pre-season All-American Harrison Bryant.

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Position Preview: Deep, inexperienced group of pass-catchers step in

Wide receiver John Mitchell is set to have a big role in the passing game this season as he recovers from an injury. Photo by Alex Liscio

Wide receiver John Mitchell is set to have a big role in the passing game this season as he recovers from an injury. Photo by Alex Liscio

Wide receiver John Mitchell is set to have a big role in the passing game this season as he recovers from an injury. Photo by Alex Liscio

Wide receiver John Mitchell is set to have a big role in the passing game this season as he recovers from an injury. Photo by Alex Liscio

Joseph Acosta, Contributing Writer

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As the Owls march toward Ohio Stadium on August 31, the University Press continues our position preview with the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends, led by Harrison Bryant.

Despite the departure of leading receiver Jovon Durante, the Owl pass catchers look to improve on a 2018 season that saw them finish in the middle of the Conference USA in passing yards per game, and near the bottom of the conference in receiving touchdowns. 

However, the pass catching group will make a significant leap in 2019 with senior tight end Harrison Bryant, junior wide receiver Willie Wright, redshirt senior receiver Tavaris Harrison, and senior receiver John Mitchell at the head of the pack. This group combined for a whopping 54 percent of FAU’s receiving yards last year. 

They look to lead an energetic, but relatively inexperienced group of pass catchers. A big question for the owls receivers and tight ends would be the overall depth. Despite returning four of their top six leaders in receptions and receiving yards, not a single returning receiver outside of those four had more than six receptions last year. 

In Lane Kiffin’s spread, up-tempo offense there will need to be development of those other receivers, as well as incoming freshman. Redshirt senior Dante Cousart, a walk-on, received a scholarship this summer and will see playing time in the receiver rotation. The incoming group of transfers and freshmen could look to make an impact early on as well. Transferring from Alabama, redshirt sophomore Chris Herring will definitely see playing time both at receiver and defensive back. 

Freshman Javion Posey, who was initially lining up at quarterback, is now seeing time at wide receiver. He may not play much this year, but he will be an intriguing piece for Kiffin later on. In addition, freshman tight end Rahmod Smith, younger brother of linebacker Rashad Smith, has turned eyes this summer with his play. 

Obviously, most of the attention will be on Bryant, who in the preseason was named to a bevy of All-America watch lists, such as the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s best tight end, as well as the All Conference-USA first team. He deserves all of these accolades, as he was one of the conference leaders in receiving yards with 662 yards, while being second on the Owls with four touchdowns last season.

Wright, Harrison, and John Mitchell, who has really turned heads in camp this summer, all have shown to have a rapport with presumed starter Chris Robison, while the young receiver group has shown promise throughout the summer. In the teleconference call on Monday, head coach Lane Kiffin said of Mitchell, who has been injured recently, that “hopefully” he’ll play against Ohio State. In late breaking news, redshirt senior DeAndre McNeal rejoined the team, after a brief stint at SMU, according to the Palm Beach Post. He will add depth and experience to a young receiver corps.

Nevertheless, when the Owls go to Ohio for game one of a promising season, expect your starting receivers to be Wright, Harrison, and Mitchell, with Bryant leading the tight ends. But, in Lane Kiffin’s spread offense, expect many more pass catchers to receive targets and develop as the season continues.

Joseph Acosta is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @acosta32_jp.