Last season, as has been the case in recent years at Temple, multiple wide receivers saw action in a deep rotation, and that trend should continue this year.
A year ago, seven receivers had eight or more receptions, led by rising junior Isaiah Wright, who caught 46 passes for 668 yards and four touchdowns.
“We are going to play six to seven guys,” receivers coach Stan Hixon said after Tuesday’s seventh practice of the spring.
The biggest task is replacing Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings, who combined for 87 receptions for 1,403 yards and 14 touchdowns, seven apiece, before graduating.
In addition to Wright, who can also be a game-breaker as a return man, redshirt senior Ventell Bryant also returns. He was the team’s leading receiver in 2016 but slumped last year, with 29 receptions for 280 yards and no scores in 10 games. He battled injury and wasn’t always happy with a reduced role in the offense.
“Last year, I was obviously frustrated at times. You could obviously see that,” Bryant said.
Now, he has embraced the role as leader of what is a young group.
Temple leading returning WR Isaiah Wright talks about the comfort level with QB Frank Nutile pic.twitter.com/eNXaWeL8UI
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) March 27, 2018
Two receivers who have made impressions are freshmen Sean Ryan and Kadas Reams, who have enrolled mid-year and are taking part in spring practice. Ryan (6-4, 195) has been the talk of camp.
“Sean Ryan has opened my eyes a lot,” Bryant said. “He has freakish ability, he can go up and get the ball and is doing well in blocking.”
The 6-2, 175-pound Reams played at Milford Academy prep school last year in New York.
“Kadas has world-class speed,” Hixon said.
Both are going through the growing pains of learning the complex playbook.
Hixon said Ryan and Reams will have a chance to compete for time in the fall, but there will be no shortage of competitors. Redshirt sophomore Freddie Johnson (another blazer) and junior Randle Jones, who excelled on special teams, should play a much more prominent role. Last year, Jones caught 14 passes for 194 yards and Johnson had three receptions for 36 yards.
There are a number of other candidates, including redshirt sophomore Branden Mack, who has made some big plays this spring, and redshirt freshman Jadan Blue.
The toughest job belongs to Hixon, who must help groom the young receivers and determine who will be in the rotation. Four other incoming freshmen will add to the list when fall camp convenes.
“It’s not difficult to evaluate them at all,” Hixon said. “You put them in a spot and see who can win.”
Redshirt freshman L.J. Holder has moved from receiver to linebacker. … Redshirt junior defensive back Kareem Ali, who left the team last week, has returned after meeting with coach Geoff Collins. … Temple will have seven more practices before the Cherry and White spring game on April 14.