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August 6, 2009For Utah, the 2009 receiving corps have huge shoes to fill after the losses of Freddie Brown, Bradon Godfrey, and Brent Casteel.
Last year's receiving corps would have undoubtedly received an A grade entering the season as battle tested seniors. However, the Utes will start the 2009 season with only two receivers having substantial game time experience in David Reed and Jereme Brooks.
While last year's group may ultimately prove to be more sure-handed, this year's receivers are an upgrade in speed and perhaps in physicality as a unit. Look for Luke Matthews and Shaky Smithson to take the tough balls in the middle, as Brown and Godfrey did last year. As a unit this year, the receivers need to work most on route running, which is fortunately coachable and should improve significantly through camp or early in the season.
Beyond the two deep, there are real questions as to who will step up, which accounts for the lower grade for this unit, particularly if Ray Magee doesn't make it to camp. While talented and speedy Ryan Lacy is listed on the depth chart, he may not actually figure too prominently into the equation, unless he really makes a big push at camp. Look for Lacy to get the most opportunities on special teams this season.
With the changes in personnel, expect to see a wide rotation of personnel in this year's offense, with all those listed in the depth chart getting balls thrown their way. With questions as to whether or not Ray Magee actually makes it to camp, look for a younger player to battle for a lower spot in the depth chart as well. If Magee doesn't make it, freshmen Sean Fitzgerald, Jamal Smith could battle with sophomoresZach Wade or Mychal Robinson for minimal playing time, but playing time nevertheless.
The possibility exists for someone who really stands out to unseat either Aiona Key or Devonte Christopher who didn't necessarily solidify their positions in spring, though both have shown flashes of potential and even brilliance at times. Both were inconsistent in spring, opening the door albeit just a crack for someone else. Freshman Chase Nakamura represents the fifteenth receiver on the roster, and while tall, needs to add some weight. At this time, Nakamura does not figure prominently into the depth chart. Look for a last-minute addition to the roster if Magee doesn't make it to camp. Look for a small jump in the unit's overall grade by camp's end.