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What condition are Arizona’s wide receivers in heading into spring practice?

arizona-wildcats-college-football-spring-practice-preview-position-wide-receivers-peterson-berryhill Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is the last in a series of reports in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious or critical condition heading into spring ball, which begins Monday. Next up: wide receivers.

Returning Starters: Cedric Peterson

Returning Backups: Stanley Berryhill III, Devaughn Cooper, Thomas Reid III, Brian Casteel, Drew Dixon, Thomas Marcus, Tre Adams

Key Additions: Jalen Curry, Jalen Johnson

Key Departures: Shawn Poindexter, Tony Ellison, Shun Brown

The Wildcats will be without their top three pass catchers from a season ago and now the group is left with a load of inexperience and youth.

Cedric Peterson is the veteran of the unit, who has struggled to crack the rotation during his time at Arizona, dealing with injuries and depth. This past season he was at his best, hauling in 18 catches for 268 yards and four touchdowns. In his first two years he had just 11 receptions for 104 yards. As the lone senior he’ll need to take ownership of a starting outside role.

In the slot we could see Devaughn Cooper, who has steadily become a vertical threat in the offense. He averaged over 20 yards a catch last season, taking 18 receptions for 368 yards. He’s not a traditional outside receiver standing at 5-foot-10, but it’s certainly an option as well.

Stanley Berryhill III is another option in the slot, however he’ll be sidelined with a partially torn ACL this spring. An elusive playmaker who put together a great spring a year ago, eventually leaving to a scholarship.

Not to be forgotten is Thomas Reid III, who primarily played on special teams, but made some appearances throughout the season at receiver. He’s a walk-on who continues to grind and could be a prime candidate to earn himself a scholarship with a strong spring.

Two receivers will enter their third year with the program. This is the time where they need to separate themselves from the pack of young freshmen.

Junior Brian Casteel’s season was cut short last season due to injury. As a true freshman he served primarily on special teams. He’s an extremely well-rounded receiver, can play inside and out, but needs a huge spring to break away from the pack.

Drew Dixon is now a redshirt sophomore, and came into the program as a big, strong-bodied receiver, but needed some development. He has a wide skill set coming from a quarterback, running back and safety background, and he needs a big spring to show that he can be a true outside receiver.

Jailen Bailey is listed as a sophomore on the roster, primarily serving on special teams. He’s a smaller slot guy who can hopefully get some meaningful reps this spring to develop. He might be closer to seeing the field than most people would think, and it won’t be surprising to see him get a lot of time next season.

Also in the slot is Jaden Mitchell, who has already overcome a lot prior to stepping foot on campus. After committing to the 2018 class, he suffered a torn ACL and had to delay his enrollment. Now stronger than ever he’ll look to make a move up the depth chart this spring.

Arizona has two huge receivers in Tre Adams and Thomas Marcus, both from the 2019 class. When they entered the program I felt they both had the tools to play as true freshmen and emerge as the much needed targets. Both just recorded on catch as true freshmen.

Now they have an off-season under their belt, and you hope they make the jump this season. Marcus is an electrifying Odell Beckham-type of receiver, meanwhile Tre Adams is your well-rounded Michael Thomas mold.

Arizona’s highest ranked wide receiver recruit of the bunch, Jalen Curry, is the guy to watch. A four-star, big bodied guy coming out of Texas, he’s a favorite to land a starting outside receiver job. He’s already on campus and if he can stay healthy, coming off wrist surgery, he’s going to be in line for a terrific freshman season.

And not yet on campus is Jalen Johnson, a tall, speedy prospect out of California. If the young group doesn’t make much headway in spring, there’s a shot he could climb his way up the depth chart despite joining the team later.

Condition: Serious

I don’t see enough solid proof here to say that this group is unstable.

Arizona does not have a proven, reliable receiver who has consistently been on the field and produced. At this moment, it’s all based on hope, wishing for a guy to breakout and live up to their potential.

But it can be done, as we have seen many guys at the position breakthrough after some time as we saw with Tony Ellison, Trey Griffey and Shawn Poindexter over the last few years.


What condition are Arizona’s receivers in?

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