FAU’s wide receivers possess varied and often impressive skills sets.
The biggest question the Owls hope to answer in the coming weeks is whether new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offense exploits the explosiveness of this unit while also helping it develop consistency.
“The system is going to spread the ball more, I think,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said. “I’m excited about that fact that we’re going to find out more about the receiver group.”
Jenson Stoshak graduated following the 2015 season, taking his team-high 57 catches for 820 yards last year with him. No returning receiver caught more than 30 passes or tallied better than 382 yards last season.
Partridge expects the Owls to be a little more multidimensional this season and it’s easy to envision two, and maybe even three players matching Stoshak’s statistics from last season.
Kalib Woods’ 27 catches for 330 wasn’t exactly the breakout season some predicted, but he continues to make spectacular plays on the practice field. That has to eventually translate into games, right?
“I think we’re seeing more of those instances in practice than we have had previously,” Partridge said. “Yes there are progressions and safety rotations and things that say you throw it here, but all being equal – contested ball, go get it – consciously or subconsciously, the trust factor is so much higher with Kalib now that I think he’s going to have more opportunities for that.”
Nate Terry caught 16 passes as a tight end last season. His move to wide receiver this spring has been smooth, drawing raves from coaches and players in the spring.
Always a strong red zone threat, Terry caught almost everything thrown his way during spring practices.
“He can go up and get a ball,” Partridge said. “When the field’s shortened there’s going to be more contested balls.”
Last year’s 94-yard catch-and-run by Kamrin Solomon was the longest in FAU history.
Having demonstrated he can make the big play, Solomon must prove he can make the mundane play with consistency.
“I think he has the ability to be a deep threat, but he’s going to be most effective in the intermediate [yardarge], down,” Partridge said.
Following fall camp Partridge proclaimed his confidence in five wide receivers, adding junior Henry Bussey and redshirt freshman Pico Harrison to the above trio. He’s hoping to add a sixth name, and maybe more, during fall camp.
“Those five are on a path that I think many of them could be big contributors,” Partridge said.
FAUOwlAccess.com Projected Depth Chart
Kamrin Solomon (6-2, 205, Jr.)
Caught 22 passes for 382 yards last season. Consistency is the key for the spirited Solomon, who could quickly blossom into a go-to receiver for whichever player wins the quarterback battle.
Pico Harrison (6-3, 190, R-Fr.)
After missing all of last season following a fall-camp injury, Harrison made the biggest step forward among wide receivers during the spring. The redshirt-freshman brings “straight-up ability to make plays,” Partridge said. “Also showed that he has a lot to learn in terms of what to do and how to do it – just learning to play at this level.”
Nate Terry, (6-6, 220, Jr.)
Partridge says the Owls actually considered moving him from tight end to wide receiver prior to the 2015 season. Terry may be the best route-runner on the Owls and probably has the best hands, too. That’s a good combination.
Henry Bussey, (5-9, 180, Jr.)
Like Terry above, Bussey also moved from another position to wide receiver after coming to FAU as a running back. Partridge believes Bussey is finally comfortable in the slot, and he could see more time split wide this season. He’s primarily caught swing passes at FAU, but Bussey has the speed to become a deep threat.
Kalib Woods, (6-3, 193, R-Jr.)
Might be the most explosive of the FAU wide outs. Has the potential to become an All-Conference USA performer. “He’s running really well,” Partridge said. “He’s over 190 pounds on any given day. He brings a lot to the table.”
Bobby Mitchell, (6-2, 190, R-Jr.)
Possibly the fastest of all the FAU wide receivers, Mitchell made a major leap forward at the beginning of spring camp but his progress leveled off toward the end. “Hopefully, the plateau doesn’t remain and he can make another jump,” Partridge said. “With his flat-out raw speed, if he makes another jump, that will be fun. ”
James Brunson (6-0, 180, R-Fr.)
One of the Owls’ top scout-team players last season, Brunson is on the verge of challenging for playing time. If he can display a mastery the playbook and refine his route-running, Brunson’s ability to make defenders miss could make him a true weapon.
Other Potential Contributors
Ladante Harris (5-10, 170, R-Fr.)
Redshirted last season and missed spring as he recovered from surgery. One of the true wild cards when it comes to the WR position. Before the injury Harris was showed extreme quickness and the ability to make people miss. “I’m anxious to finally see him play,” Partridge said.
Tony Thomas (5-10, 190, R-Sr.)
Former walk-on is probably best known not for a catch but for a throw – he tossed the ill-conceived double pass that was picked off by Buffalo in the red zone last season. Biggest contributions may come on special teams. “He’ll have a role for us,” Partridge said.
J’Quan Napier (6-3, 190, R-Fr.)
Redshirted last season. Napier made some plays during the spring but is still likely a year away from from consistently contributing.