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Louisville Football Preseason Position Preview: Wide Receivers

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Andy Lyons

Bobby Petrino and his high powered offense has elicited a ton of excitement and confidence within the fan base. The primary reason for this is the return of an extremely talented group of receivers. The lack of talent at the position years ago led to a run of recruiting success for Charlie Strong and his staff. Petrino will be the beneficiary of that recruiting success with a group of receivers that my be the best he's had in his career.

Local star DeVante Parker decided to return to Louisville after a stellar year where he caught 12 touchdown passes in as many games. Parker is entering this season getting the most attention of any single player on the roster. Petrino's offense has had years in which the top receiver has had monster years and Parker would easily be the most talented of all of them. Throughout practice Parker stood out among everyone to the point that Charles Gaines routinely pointed out that plays would have gone in the defenses favor "...if that wasn't 9".  No one should benefit more from the new offensive system than Parker. He ran tunnel screens and quick screens multiple times in the open practices as well as his normal deep route we've seen before.

Eli Rogers has been a staple in the slot for the past three years. He was Teddy Bridgewater's go to guy on third downs and rarely disappointed. Rogers has incredible footwork and great hands. Though he's not a blazer, he does a great job getting separation in the middle of the field. With Will Gardner learning on the fly this year, Rogers will be relied on to again be a security blanket in the passing game. Michaelee Harris will be playing in the slot this year for the first time and he looked to be taking to it well during practices. Harris has the quickness to separate in small spaces and he might be the best route runner on the team. It will be interesting to see how well he plays in his first truly healthy full season.

The third receiver spot has been manned by both Matt Milton and James Quick. Milton hasn't done much on the field yet too excited about but he has impressed in practices. Milton is the tallest receiver on the team and he has great straight line speed. As of now, it looks like Milton will be lining up with the first team, but things could change in the next two weeks. Quick is one of the most highly rated players that Louisville has ever signed and he is probably the receiver most capable of creating a "wow" play out of nothing. Quick didn't get much playing time last year but with the departure of Damien Copeland he will definitely see his time on the field go up. Quick had his number called on everything from go routes, to tunnel screens, and even end around/reverses during the open practices.

Kai De La Cruz was on his way to a very solid year last season before going down with an injury. Tasked with backing up Parker at the all important "X" receiver spot shouldn't be too much for the senior. He really stepped up his game before last season and looks to be fully healthy again.

An interesting subplot of this season will be which young receiver gets playing time this year. Every player listed above will be gone after this season, with the exception of Quick. Petrino will need to identify one or two guys to get them some game experience. Or, he could choose to not burn a year and redshirt all of them. Javonte Bagley has gotten high praise from the coaches while Cornelius Sturghill looked really good in the open scrimmage. Cameron Polk is another to keep an eye on. He enrolled early and got some reps with the first team in practice.

AROUND THE ACC

TOP PLAYERS:

Jamison Crowder

Jamison Crowder is always open. Playing in a pass heavy offense help his numbers look better, but Crowder is a very talented receiver that can do a little of everything. He's more quick than fast but the offense doesn't shy away from having him run go routes and deep posts. Anthony Boone should continue to improve under David Cutcliffe which, in turn, should help Crowder improve his numbers.

Rashad Greene

Jameis Winston needed help to be the Heisman Trophy winner and he got a lot of it from Rashad Greene. The leading receiver for the Seminoles decided to return for another season and he will be relied on even more this year with the departures of the teams other two top targets. Greene is a tall, lanky guy that can take a simple curl route to the house.

NEXT IN LINE:

Tyler Boyd

Boyd had a monster year that pretty much got Tom Savage drafted in this past year's NFL draft. Boyd will be playing without Devin Street, and his 14 years of experience, to take the attention away from him this year, but with a good running game and what I expect to be better quarterback play, he should have another stellar year.

SLEEPER:

Stacy Coley

Coley might not seem like much of a sleeper to Louisville fans, but he has hardly been mentioned this summer by many. Coley's numbers rivaled DeVante Parker's numbers from his freshman year. He didn't have a ton of catches, but he seemed to end up in the endzone pretty regularly. He also starred in the return game. With a year under his belt, Coley could explode this year.