STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 15: O.J. Ross #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates his touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game on October 15, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions defeated the Boilermakers 23-18. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
There was a time this offseason where wide receiver looks like a very dicey proposition. Justin Siller had graduated, O.J. Ross was all but officially off the team, and Antavian Edison was facing a felony weapons charge. That was no big deal. It was only the three leading receivers in last year's passing game.
Fortunately, Ross and Edison are back in their good graces. Siller must be replaced, but we have some talent at the position even if it has not sent he field yet. If the quarterbacks can get them the ball they should be able to do something with it. This unit is possibly the fastest group of receivers we've ever had at Purdue. What they really need is a Chris Daniels-type.
This whole group is long on talent, but it lacks a true standout playmaker.
Antavian Edison - Sr.- 44 receptions, 584 yards, 3 touchdowns
O.J. Ross- Jr. - 33 receptions, 356 yards, 3 touchdowns
Gary Bush - Jr. - 29 receptions, 310 yards, 3 touchdowns
Crosby Wright (TE) - Sr. - 16 receptions, 223 yards, 2 touchdowns
There is not a lot of size there, but the experience will be beneficial in the passing game. Wright had a very nice season last year at a position of need. The former walk-on has now earned himself a team captaincy and is a reliable safety valve. His touchdowns came at Rice and Wisconsin in games where very little else went right for the offense. He's also an academic All-Big Ten selection.
Edison and Ross are pretty much the same type of receiver. Both are fast guys that can be electric after the catch. Edison has been more involved with the offense because of his tendency to line up in the backfield on occasion. Edison had the game-winning touchdown catch late in the season opener vs. Middle Tennessee State.
Ross has come a long way after missing the bowl game and briefly losing his scholarship. Academics and a few off the field things were issues last year, but he still turned in a decent season. When he was out Bush became a bigger target. I expect Bush and Ross to be the top outside receivers while Edison plays a little bit of everywhere.
Top Reserves with experience:
Gabe Holmes (TE) - Jr. - 11-133-1
Raheem Mostert - So.
Expect Holmes to be pushed this year. He's got a top-notch recruit behind him in Carlos Carvajal and Wright outplayed him last year. I think this has to be the year Holmes makes a bigger contribution or there won't be much next year because of younger players behind him.
As for Mostert, he's a little like Edison. We're going to look for creative ways to get him the football. He's still a wide receiver, but he rushed for two touchdowns last year and saw extensive action without ever catching a pass.
Top newcomers who will play:
Tommie Thomas - Sr. (5)
Charles Torwudzo - So.
Shane Mikesky - Fr. (RS)
Carlos Carvajal (TE) -Fr.
Ishmael Aristide - Jr.
Thomas is hardly a newcomer, but the senior has steadily risen in his career and should get some play this season in a role like Waynelle Gravesande. He's also a long-time reader of the site so I have to give him a little credit. Technically he threw one pass last year against Notre Dame.
I am most interested to see what Torwudzo and Mikesky can do. They are the closest we have to a big, strong receiver that can simply overpower defensive backs (basically what Michigan does to us every time we play them). Mikesky was a two-time state champion in the hurdles at Zionsville and his senior season was the Zionsville passing game. Seriously, I covered several games that year and at least once per game they would through the jump ball deep pass to Mikesky for a TD. His size and speed make him a very useful player to have. If I had to pick one offensive player to have a breakoutyear, it is him.
Carvajal was one of two four-star commits in the class of 2012. Wright and Holmes will begin the year ahead of him, but the 6'7" Carvajal has to at least be considered in goal line situations.
Aristide is an interesting player that has switched from safety and was nearly Rob Henry's student body vice president. I remember he was one of the first players in his class to commit, but after a redshirt year and two years on defense he has yet to do a whole lot on the field.
True freshmen who could play:
Knauf reminds me of another short, blazing fast white guy we got out of Florida: Vinny Sutherland. Most of what I have heard about him is that he is incredibly fast and elusive. He could find a role fielding punts and get into the offense somewhere for a few plays.
Anthrop might line up at running back out of necessity. Basketball player Dru Anthrop's little brother, Danny hasn't lost a football game in four years. His final three years at Lafayette Central Catholic saw him go 44-0 with three state championships and only one game decided by less than 20 points. Even in class A that's a simply ridiculous streak bordering on the absurd. Anthrop was the star of those teams, so he could see action somewhere.
Zach Sigman - Sr.
Dolapo Macarthy - Fr. (RS)
Cameron Posey - Fr.
Jordan Woods - Fr.
Sterling Carter (TE) - Jr.
Justin Sinz (TE) - So.
Jonathan Curry -Fr.
Ryan Morris - Fr.
Of these, I think Posey, Woods, Curry, and Morris will almost certainly redshirt. There are simply too many players ahead of them with loads more experience. We'll stash them away for later and hope they have an impact.
Sigman is a walk-on that will hopefully see some action in a few blowouts. Carter was brought in last year to fill some depth at TE, but with Wright and holmes playing better I don't know if he even played at all. Sinz had three catches for 25 yards and saw at least some action in all 12 games. You have to think he's even ahead of Carter right now.
Then you have McCarthy, who was a quarterback originally and has now officially moved to receiver. He's an interesting case. He was a highly touted dual-threat QB but bounced around to prep schools such that he will be a 21-year old redshirt freshman this year. He has size and speed at 6'5" 220 pounds, but I don't know what role we'll see him in. I am sure he finds his way to the field eventually though.