DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers, Kai De La Cruz, Matt Milton, Cameron Polk, Michaelee Harris
The Cards are replacing two all-time great receivers in DeVante Parker & Eli Rogers both of whom left their mark on the Louisville Receiving Record Book. DeVante Parker finishes his career 8th in Career Receptions, 4th in Career Yardage, and tied for 1st in Career Receiving TDs. Eli Rogers finished his Cardinal career 4th in Career Receptions & 10th in Career Yardage.
In addition, players like Kai De La Cruz & Matt Milton are now gone from the program due to graduation that have provided depth and play-making ability at various points during their careers. Also freshman (and would be sophomore) Cameron Polk was dismissed from the program prior to the Clemson game.
There is buzz about Michaelee Harris returning to the program for his 6th season with a medical hardship waiver, but that is unconfirmed and he was not on the newly released roster. Harris did not go through the senior ceremony.
James Quick (6-1, 182, Jr.), Javonte Bagley (6-3, 184, Soph), Gio Pascasio (6-3, 183, Jr.), Dontez Byrd (5-11, 170, Soph), Chris Miele (6-2, 186, Soph), Tae’Shawn Gibbs (5-10, 181, Soph)
The biggest returnee is James Quick for the Cardinals. The former U.S. Army All-American was the primary receiver for much of the season until DeVante Parker’s return from a foot injury. Still Quick hauled in 36 catches for 566 yards and 3 Touchdowns as a sophomore. Now as a junior, it’s time for Quick to take the next step. That will take real preparation and focus from James. The good news is that Quick is extremely athletic and capable and this Spring is probably the most important of his collegiate career.
The future for Javonte Bagley is BRIGHT. Bagley did not redshirt his 1st season at Louisville and while he did catch just 2 balls for 18 yards, it was clear that the ability was there to make a big impact at some point during his career. With 4 (maybe 5) departing seniors at the Wide Receiver position, Javonte is going to have his opportunity during the Spring of 2015.
Gio Pascasio played but did not record any receptions during 2014, was a late addition to the roster during the Spring/Summer of 2014. Dontez Byrd was a key walk-on for the Cards and was a part of the offense and special teams but also did not record a reception. Chris Miele and Tae’Shawn Gibbs also return to the team as walk-ons.
Clearly, Wide Receiver is an area of note in terms of returning wideout production for the Cardinals.
Ja’Quay Williams (6-3, 201, Jr.), Paul Harris (6-4, 200, Jr.), Jamari Staples (6-4, 195), Traveon Samuel (5-7, 175, Fr), Cody Swabek (6-1, 166, Fr)
The Cards are looking for an immediate impact from Texas A&M transfer Ja’Quay Williams. Williams originally signed with Auburn in the 2012 class but instead spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy and caught passes from Johnny Manziel in Kevin Sumlin’s system in 2013. After sitting out with the Louisville program for 2014, the former #2 national prep school prospect is finally poised to play a full season of college football. Ja’Quay was the #14 wide receiver in the 2012 high school class according to Rivals.com and was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American game. High School teammate of Georgia transfer Shaq Wiggins. Williams is expected to jump into the role of DeVante Parker and provide play-making ability from the X position.
Another transfer expected to make an impact is Paul Harris who originally signed with Tennessee out of Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, MD. Harris comes to the Cards by way of Iowa Western C.C. Paul appeared in 5 games as a true freshman for the Vols. Harris was a consensus All-State high school performer in Maryland where he tallied 71 receptions for 1467 yards and 23 Touchdowns in his final two seasons of high school. Harris will push Ja’Quay Williams also at the X spot.
When the UAB program closed shop, it was a safe bet that at least one viable player would find its way to Louisville considering the Cardinals offensive coordinator was the Blazers former head coach in Garrick McGee. The player that emerged was Jamari Staples who McGee and Petrino battled for between UAB and Western Kentucky. The battle proved to be worth it when as a true freshman Staples hauled in 31 catches for 458 yards and 4 touchdowns. Injuries slowed his sophomore campaign, but any true freshman that has shown the ability to be a team’s 2nd leading receiver is promising. I think Staples will also compete at the X position but it is possible they could use him at Z.
We talked about Louisville needing play-makers at Wide Receiver and they may really have found one with true freshman and early enrollee Traveon Samuel. Coach Petrino talked about needing more players who can take a simple reception, turn, and create a huge play. That’s exactly what Samuel is. He may be small in stature but he’s going to be a nightmare in the slot position. Traveon played RB/WR/KR/PR and is an All-Purpose stat stuffer. Could easily play running back, but it looks like the staff really loves him in the slot. Samuel is a high 3-star prospect and had offers from Clemson, FSU, LSU, Miss State, Ohio State, and Tennessee among several others.
Cody Swabek redshirted his first year with the Cards. Seeing him in some practices it very plausible that Swabek, as a walk on, could make an impact in the receiving corps at some point during his career at UofL.
WHO MAY BE COMING?
Jaylen Smith (6’2, 195, Fr.), Trey Smith (6’1, 210, Fr.) + Other Prospects
You can bet that Petrino & Co. are not yet done looking for high impact wide receivers in this recruiting class, but what they have right now in a pair of Smiths is a fantastic start. The Cards need bodies at Wide Receivers and they also need class parity. That’s why taking on so many transfers who have experience is so important. I expect Louisville to add at least 2 more WRs to the 2015 class.
Madison Central (MS) has been good to the Cards lately, and UofL kept things going with the addition of Trey Smith. Son of former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith, Trey chose the Cards over an offer from Mississippi State. Smith played Quarterback for Madison Central and suffered a hip injury that slowed his season, causing him to miss several games. Trey could easily play Running Back as well, but right now it appears that Trey will play WR for the Cards.
Another wide receiver Smith from Mississippi is Jaylen Smith from Pascagoula HS who fell to Laurel (the eventual 5-A champion in MS) in the Quarterfinals. Jaylen also plays Basketball for his school and chose the Cards over offers from North Carolina, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Ole Miss. Smith had 33 receptions for 721 yards and 10 TDs and also added 1 Kick Return for a TD in 2015. Jaylen is a very physical wide receiver and is excellent at shedding contact and tackles.
BEST GUESS DEPTH CHART
1) Ja’Quay Williams
2) Paul Harris
3) Jamari Staples
1) Traveon Samuel
2) Trey Smith
3) Dontez Byrd
1) James Quick
2) Javonte Bagley
3) Jaylen Smith
4) Gio Pascascio
I could easily see James Quick sliding into the slot, or Bagley being the #2 in the X and Harris down at the Z or even Staples playing some Z. With receivers it is important that they know multiple positions for various situations, but this would be my best guess for the base package.
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