Towards the tail end of last season, it was rumored that Cam Denson had been transitioning over to offense for the Arizona Wildcats. Just a few weeks later, when the spring roster was released, Denson had officially made the switch over to wide receiver.
Coming in as a 5-star recruit from Tucson power Salpointe Catholic High School, he had plenty of hype surrounding him. He didn't see a whole lot of action in his first few games as a freshman, but slowly started to work his way in.
It was a bit of a learning curve for Denson, but that's part of the growing pains a freshman defensive back, no matter how athletic and skilled they are. In 2015, he saw a bit of an expanded role, but just wasn't able to hang at all times. That's what led to his conversation with Rich Rodriguez, where it was a mutual interest for the switch.
I really liked his attitude about the switch, telling us that he didn’t feel like his two seasons at corner were wasted because it made him a better player and athlete, and now he’s more capable of understanding what the defense is trying to do him.
Brandon Dawkins had said that Cam Denson was the go-to guy on the deep ball, referring to him as "Deep Ball Denson". He’s an electrifying athlete, much like DaVonte’ Neal. The difference between the two is that Neal was a slot receiver, which is more the first down/short yardage position. But Denson will be playing on the outside, where he’ll be going downfield more like Cayleb Jones, Trey Griffey and David Richards.
But I know what you’re thinking. Those three guys have at least four inches on Denson, who is listed a 5’11". But the receivers speak highly of Denson’s athletic ability, with Samajie Grant saying that Denson is reaching up to a 36-inch vertical. For reference, that would have been tied for ninth in the 2016 NFL Combine. Cayleb Jones reached 33.5 inches.
What I also like about Denson is that he was always one of the last guys off the field after practice, working on his routes and receiving skills with some of the experienced guys.
The receivers will be an interesting group in 2016. Trey Griffey, Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant will be three of the main targets. Then you start trickling guys in like Tyrell Johnson, Shun Brown, and Tony Ellison, who made great strides this season. Ellison is someone that Rich Rodriguez said will definitely be in the starting rotation at some point this season.
Arizona will also have incoming guys like Shawn Poindexter (6’6") and DeVaughn Cooper (5’10") to help bolster the group. Poindexter has an interesting situation. He had issues enrolling at Cal Baptist out of high school, attending on a volleyball scholarship. He had some eligibility issues, which now puts him in a situation where he has two years to play two seasons, but he'll be appealing to get four years to play three.
The way the group stands, Cam Denson might be starting at the outside receiver spot. Samajie Grant could virtually play anywhere on the field and while Nate Phillips is definitely more suited for the slot, he could also play outside if need be. But outside of Trey Griffey, there aren't a lot of true outside receivers for this team, which is something that will be apparent this year.
But then this is where Tony Ellison could also come in as the outside receiver, While Brandon Dawkins and Anu Solomon are in the midst of a quarterback battle, whoever starts this season will have plenty of options, especially with the core of running backs and if the tight ends can work their way into the system in 2016.