Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis would also like to know who will be behind center for the Owls’ Aug. 31 season-opener at Ohio St., but he’s more interested in determining who will be on the receiving end of the passes from whoever is named the starter.
“I think receiver, to me, is the biggest position to really nail down,” Weis said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys in there.”
If everyone’s healthy, the top line of the wide receiver depth chart seems pretty well set.
John Mitchell continues to play like a No. 1 wide receiver this fall. When healthy, which he’s yet to be this fall, Pico Harrison starts on the other side of the field. And Willie Wright is firmly entrenched in the slot. Beyond that? It changes every day.
“Receivers, there’s some new people out there – [DeAngelo Antoine] from South Florida and Rasaan Lewis from UCF – so some of those guys, we’re trying to figure them out, give them opportunities,” Weis said. “That’s the biggest position to me we need to nail down, to find out who we’re going to go with because that’s the biggest thing, too, with the quarterbacks and getting the rhythm and timing with those guys down.”
Both Antoine and Lewis have impressed during the first couple weeks of camp. When a groin injury sidelined Harrison for much of the first two weeks, Antoine assumed his starting spot. With Harrison back running routes this week, Antoine moved back to the slot behind Wright.
“He’s starting to get himself right,” quarterback Chris Robinson said. “He’s come into a new offense that’s a little bit different, but he’s taken to it really well.”
Lewis is also playing both inside and outside, and is drawing raves from quarterbacks and defensive backs alike.
“I like Rasaan Lewis,” cornerback Korel Smith said. “I like [Antoine]. They bring a little different, just a little different swag, a little different demeanor.”
The Owls are suddenly overflowing with options in the slot. It’s the natural position for Dante Cousart, a walk-on awarded a scholarship this week. And Jordan Merrell continues to make his share of catches during the fall. Barring unforeseen events, Merrell will see significant action this fall. In addition, SMU transfer Jordan Brooks made his first appearance of the fall on Friday. The 5-foot-8 Brooks played in seven games for the Mustangs as a true-freshman walk-on last season, catching two passes and contributing on special teams.
FAU doesn’t have as many options on the outside. After losing promising true freshman Eyin Cole for the season to an ACL tear earlier in the week, walk-ons Ronald Patterson and Brandon Robinson received additional repetitions in practice. JUCO signee Adrian Bryant’s return to the team should bolster the receiving unit down the road, but won’t help immediately. Former Alabama walk-on Chris Herring, who caught the first touchdown during the first scrimmage, actually played defensive back during Friday’s practice. It’s unclear whether that was a test or a permanent move.
None of this means the Owls won’t be closely monitoring the quarterback competition. Chris Robison enjoyed another strong week, splitting time with Nick Tronti on the first team. Justin Agner, who started the first scrimmage, didn’t practice at all this week because of what’s being called an illness. His status remains unclear, giving the quarterback battle a two-candidate look. Agner is not expected to play on Saturday.
FAU will shuffle as many as six running backs within the first and second teams on Saturday, and the Owls will be trying to choose a starting right tackle. On Friday Doug Johnson, who moved from back-up left tackle to the right side earlier this week, spent the final periods of practice with the first team.
Originally scheduled for later in the afternoon, FAU moved the start of Saturday’s scrimmage to 12:45 p.m. because of the threat of inclement weather. The scrimmage is open to the public, and FAU will hold a meet-and-greet with players immediately afterward.