Nero Nelson, a key member of FAU’s 2018 signing class, won’t be with the Owls when they open camp and is not expected to play for Florida Atlantic this season, OwlAccess.com has learned.
FAU listed Nelson on its summer roster, indicating he had arrived in Boca Raton. His reason for leaving is unknown.
Nelson originally signed with Mississippi St. out of his school, but played at Copiah-Lincoln Community College instead. Many considered Nelson to be the top junior college wide receiver in the 2018 recruiting class.
Even without Nelson, FAU’s quarterbacks will still have plenty of weapons.
Slot receiver Willie Wright, FAU’s leader in receptions and receiving yards as a true freshman, enjoyed a strong spring and appears ready to reprise his role as a multi-dimensional threat.
Former West Virginia wide receiver Jovon Durante enjoyed a strong spring after sitting out last season following his transfer. A year on the scout team allowed him to build a relationship with quarterback Chris Robison, who will begin the fall battling for the starting spot.
DeAndre McNeal displayed glimpses of brilliance during his first season as an Owl and will look to become a consistent big-play target during his senior season.
A talented unit, the Owls’ wide receiver depth chart may fluctuate during the fall as some players attempt to learn a new system and everyone works to develop a rapport with whichever player, Robison or De’Andre Johnson, wins the starting quarterback job.
OwlAccess.com Pre-Camp WR Breakdown
Jovon Durante (6-0, 170, R-Jr.): Durante sat out last season after transferring from West Virginia, where he caught 60 passes for 726 yards over two seasons. He developed chemistry with Robison while working on the scout team last season, and became a favorite target of Johnson during the spring. Durante possesses speed, hands and leaping ability. He’s a big play waiting to happen.
John Mitchell (6-4, 220, R-So.): Mitchell missed all of last season after suffering a back injury in fall camp that ultimately required surgery. He caught six passes for 62 yards and one touchdown as a true freshman in 2016. Possessing good hands and size that makes him a target even when covered, Mitchell consistently improved his game throughout the spring.
DeAndre McNeal (6-1, 215, Sr.): The former Texas Longhorn’s FAU career started so promisingly, with 11 catches for 266 yards and two touchdowns in his first three games. But once FAU switched from Daniel Parr to Jason Driskel at quarterback, McNeal disappeared. He ended the season with 23 catches for 317 yards and two touchdowns, and will need to prove he can be consistent to keep his starting spot.
Pico Harrison (6-3, 185, R-Jr.): Harrison followed his 17-catch redshirt freshman season in 2016 by catching only eight passes last season. He’ll provide depth for the Owls in 2018 and can make plays if given the opportunity.
Willie Wright (5-8-185-So.): A Conference USA All-Freshman team selection last season, Wright burst onto the college football scene by catching a 95-yard touchdown pass in the 2017 opener against Navy. He quickly became an integral part of FAU’s offense, leading the Owls with 56 catches and 657 receiving yards. Wright also carried the ball 19 times for 149 yards. When the ball’s in Wright’s hands, good things happen for FAU.
Desean Holmes (5-10, 180, Jr.): He’ll start his FAU career in the slot, but can play both slot and wide out. Wright doesn’t appear likely to lose his starting spot any time soon, so if Holmes shows in camp that he can be a playmaker, the Owls may move him outside to give him more opportunities – like they did last season with Kamrin Solomon. Holmes caught 52 passes for 912 yards and seven touchdowns for College of the Canyons last season.
Desean Holmes: He’s going to have plenty of chances to prove he can make plays. The rapidity with which Holmes learns the playbook will dictate how quickly he can make an impact. It would not be a surprise at all if he draws the start at wide out in the season-opener at Oklahoma. Lane Kiffin and Holmes have a long history. As the coach of Southern Cal, Kiffin offered Holmes, then in middle school, his first scholarship. Expect Holmes to make eye-popping plays in 2018.
Kyle Davis: (6-2, 215, R-So.) The former Auburn Tiger practiced with FAU in the spring, but will have to sit out 2018 in compliance with NCAA transfer rules.
Kalib Woods: After missing last season’s first six games because of a suspension stemming from his arrest on felony battery charges, Woods rallied to catch 24 passes for 619 yards and four touchdowns.
Kamrin Solomon: Also suspended early in the season for his alleged role in Woods’ incident, Solomon still managed 33 catches – second most among Owls.
John Franklin: After joining FAU as a graduate transfer in August, Franklin caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also served as the de facto backup to Driskel at quarterback. Franklin will be most remembered for a premature touchdown celebration in which he dropped the ball inches before crossing the goal line during the Conference USA championship game. The Chicago Bears signed him as an undrafted free agent to play cornerback and return kicks.
John Mitchell: The expectations for Holmes are documented above. Curiosity is nearly as high for Mitchell. The redshirt sophomore has the frame and the skill to be successful in Kiffin’s offense. Does he have the speed? Two years ago Mitchell was on the fast track to FAU stardom. If he’s healthy this year, Mitchell could be the post-hype surprise of this unit.
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