Louisville lost their top two receivers for the second year in a row. After the 2020 season, they lost Dez Fitzpatrick and Tutu Atwell to the NFL draft. However, this offseason they lost Jordan Watkins and Tyler Harrell to the SEC. The transfer portal giveth and it also taketh away. UofL knows that more than most as they have lost a substantial amount of players over the last few years but they will rely heavily on guys they’ve brought in this season.
One of the top transfers for the Cards this year is Tyler Hudson. After putting up absurd numbers at Central Arkansas over three years, Hudson felt that it was time to try to play at the FBS level. The reports out of spring practice and fall camp have been nothing less than amazing. Hudson is known for his large catch radius and ability to make contested catches. My personal concern is that he doesn’t have great speed and that could be an issue. But, there’s no doubt that the staff and his teammates think he will be great.
The slot will have some depth this year with Braden Smith returning from injury to pair with Ahmari Huggins-Bruce. Smith struggled to get things going last season but he was a key target for Malik Cunningham with 11 catches in four games. Smith doesn’t have the speed that Tutu Atwell possessed but he has shown that he can be a great option in different areas of the field. His quickness and route running will be welcomed back.
AHB finished the season as the most consistent and productive receiver on the team. Over the last four games, he put up 16 catches, 184 yards, and 3 touchdowns. UofL needs a player that can take short passes and turn them into big plays and AHB has flashed that ability. He had the long catch against EKU where he dropped the ball before he scored but he also had an impressive touchdown against Syracuse on a jet sweep pass where he navigated his way through the defense into the corner of the endzone. If he can make the leap in his second year, it would be huge for this offense.
Louisville has brought in a variety of transfers this year and the guys looking for a “fresh start’ are the most intriguing to me. Dee Wiggins fits that bill and a comment by Scott Satterfield has made him the most interesting offensive transfer, in my opinion. Satterfield told the media that Wiggins has been playing the “Z” position which is where we saw Jordan Watkins mostly last season and Dez Fitzpatrick in the past. While I think they will move guys around a lot more this season, it stands out that Wiggins is playing in the spot that has received more targets over the last few years.
Wiggins has deep speed and we all know that this offense has to have someone that can get behind the defense on deep routes. Wiggins displayed that ability at Miami and his size will only help him if and when defenders cover him well. I am also very high on Wiggins as a player who can make tough catches on the sideline and on other intermediate throws. I’m not at all sold on this group of receivers at this point because we haven’t seen them play yet. But, I’m willing to say that they could be better as a whole than they were last season.
UofL is deep at a lot of positions but receiver is definitely not one of them. Outside of the top four players, they don’t have any consistent production to rely on. Josh Johnson is a veteran backup that they will be able to utilize but he hasn’t been able to consistently stay on the field or be a threat to make a big play. Outside of Johnson, there isn’t a receiver on the roster that has more than 1 career catch. The young guys will have to play and they will have to contribute in some way.
The one player that I think could surprise as a rotation guy is Jaelin Carter. The 6-2/215 outside receiver has been mentioned a lot by the staff since he joined the team a couple of years ago but he has a real path to the field now and should be relied on for depth. I would expect him to be in the rotation and he could be a contributor to the group.
I feel pretty comfortable picking AHB here. His finish to last season was notable not just for the production but also for the fact that Satterfield felt comfortable using him as the go-to guy so often. Louisville has a variety of ways to use their slot receivers and AHB got snaps in just about all of them. He should benefit from an improved running game as well, because they will use him on jet sweeps that we saw Tutu Atwell do so well with.