Louisville’s Wide Receiver Corps is perhaps one of the best in the nation and is arguably Cardinal Football’s most complete unit. But the Cardinals were not a ‘great’ passing team in 2015, but still managed to catch 3186 yards through the air. There is a HIGH ceiling for productivity in this group because of the gains at Quarterback….but also because of the growth and development of the group itself.
The Cards also have replaced former Wide Receivers Coach Lamar Thomas with Lonnie Galloway who comes from West Virginia and is now Louisville’s Co-Offensive Coordinator.
Jamari Staples returns to Louisville as its most dangerous weapon in the passing game from 2015. Staples, however, struggled staying healthy last season and when he missed the first 3 games of the year…..the Cards lost. UofL was 8-2 with Staples available. So he’s important, he’s a veteran and he provides a quality on the outside that Louisville needed last year.
Another senior is James Quick. No other recruit came to Louisville with more hype than James and Quick has been a good WR…..but he hasn’t been great. We’ve seen in flashes what the hometown product is capable but consistency has been an issue especially when handling sure completions. Focus has been a problem for James but a player’s senior season has a way of changing that. It’s also not to be forgotten that Quick made THE PLAY on special teams versus Virginia. All kinds of talent, let’s see if we use it all in 2016.
But where Louisville has huge room for improvement is with the young players who got valuable time last season. Freshman have turned into sophomores: Jaylen Smith, Devante Peete, Emonee Spence & Traveon Samuel. This group was IMPRESSIVE as true freshman with Smith, Peete & Samuel making an impact in Game 1 vs. Auburn in 2015. Traveon is a slot guy who is probably going to get his number called A LOT this season and maybe not all in the passing game as we saw Samuel in some specialty packages in the backfield. Jaylen Smith & Devante Peete both have big bodies but they really are two very different types of receivers that can be major weapons for Bobby Petrino & Lonnie Galloway. We’re really excited how much progress has been made with this group because if these 4 players make the typical freshman to sophomore leap……….LOOK OUT.
One new addition that everyone is really interested to see is Reggie Bonnafon at Wide Receiver full-time. Last season Reggie was a RB/QB for the Cards and we still think there will be specialty package that involves Bonnafon out of the backfield, but he’s a wideout in 2016. We’ve seen incredible vertical numbers that Reggie posted and we’ve seen Reggie at QB and Running Back. But it’s time for Reggie to find a home and start working on establishing himself at a position. He’s a team leader and a great ambassador of the program so fans are really hoping that Reggie comes in and owns his position in 2016.
Javonte Bagley is a player whose game has caught fans attention in practice for the past two seasons. Bagley looks like a natural at Wide Receiver and would probably start at most programs. Ja’Quay Savage is someone who needs to do more to live up to his reputation, Savage has claimed a new focus and work ethic for 2016 so we’ll see if that has paid dividends. Gio Pascascio is super fast and Pat Thomas has been in the program for awhile now so we’ll see if either of these guys has made strides to crack the regular rotation.
My Predicted Wide Receiver Depth Chart
Jamari Staples (6’4, 195, Sr.)
Ja’Quay Savage (6’3, 210, Jr.)
Devante Peete (6’6, 206, Soph.)
Pat Thomas (6’4, 190, Sr.)
James Quick (6’1, 180, Sr.)
Jaylen Smith (6’4, 210, Soph)
Emonee Spence (6’3, 190, Soph)
Reggie Bonnafon (6’3, 208, Jr.)
Traveon Samuel (5’7, 170, Soph.)
Javonte Bagley (6’3, 190, Jr.)
Gio Pascascio (6’3, 195, Sr.)
Seth Dawkins (6’3, 201, Fr.)
Dez Fitzpatrick (6’2, 196, Fr.)
Keion Wakefield (5’10, 171, Fr.)
In an ordinary season incoming freshman like Seth Dawkins, Dez Fitzpatrick and Keion Wakefield would probably be expected to play a lot. This year Louisville has a lot of depth & experience so breaking into the regular rotation is going to take a special player as a freshman. But Louisville may have a few here that can do it. The good news is that we’ll have several opportunities to see how they fit in throughout Fall Camp.
Jalen Washington (5’7, 177, Soph)
Chris Miele (6’2, 190, R-Jr.)