Who will be the go-to receiver for the Arizona Wildcats in 2019? Your guess is as good as anybody’s, including position coach Taylor Mazzone.
“That go-to guy, we’re still looking for that,” said Mazzone, who handles Arizona’s outside receivers. “That’s more of the quarterback standpoint of, who you trust the most?”
So it goes when a team graduated its top three pass-catchers from a year ago. Shawn Poindexter, Shun Brown and Tony Ellison combined for 62.5 percent of the receptions (135 of 216), 63.3 percent of the receiving yards (1,939 of 3,063) and 79.3 percent of the passing touchdowns (23 of 29).
The top returning receivers, based on production, are senior Cedric Peterson and junior Devaughn Cooper, both of whom had 18 catches in 2018, while sophomore Stanley Berryhill III had 14. That trio combined for 854 yards and six scores.
Of that group, Mazzone said Peterson figures to have the best shot at being the primary target. In addition to having the most career receptions on the roster, with 29, he’s also logged the most snaps and taken on the role of mentor as the young corps’ only scholarship senior.
“Ced was kind of the quiet one in that starting lineup,” Mazzone said. “I think Ced has done an excellent job in having that leadership role. Helping the young guys understand how we practice and why we practice the way we do.”
Cooper figures to continue in his role as a deep threat, while Berryhill’s involvement will depend on how he comes back from a torn ACL. That opens the door for one or more of Arizona’s talented freshmen receivers, either redshirts Tre Adams and Thomas Marcus or true freshman Jalen ‘Boobie’ Curry.
Adams has shined in spring ball, with Mazzone noting that the 6-foot-3 target certainly benefitted from appearing in a few games last season.
“That redshirt rule was excellent for him because he got about 65 plays last year,” Mazzone said of Adams. “He kind of got the idea of what the live bullets were like.”
Curry, a 4-star prospect from Houston that Arizona plucked away from Big 12 and SEC schools, was the Wildcats’ highest-rated 2019 recruit. As an early enrollee, he has a shot to step right in and contribute, Mazzone said, assuming he picks up the system.
“His athletic ability is so natural, we’re just trying to work on the mental side of it,” Mazzone said.
There’s also a wild card in the receiver room, that being redshirt sophomore Drew Dixon. A converted quarterback, Dixon got into seven games in 2018 but didn’t record a catch, but now with 215 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame he has a chance to be more involved.
“It’s taken me time to learn the position,” Dixon said. “Being able to use my technique that Coach Mazzone has taught us.”