One of the great frustrations of Washington’s 2017 season was the lack of consistent threats in the receiving corps. When opposing defenses bracketed Dante Pettis in coverage, nearly every other receiving option struggled to beat single coverage. Pettis managed a respectable 761 yards, and Hunter Bryant surged as a threat mid-season before his knee injury, but no one else was able to consistently create yardage in the passing game.
In 2018, Jake Browning has raved about the preparedness of his receiving group. Even though Pettis and security blanket Will Dissly are gone to the NFL and Bryant remains out with the same bad knee, there are certainly numbers in the receiving corps. Five scholarship WRs are either true or redshirt freshman, and two more (Jordan Chin and Ty Jones) are sophomores. The depth chart doesn’t give us much clarity with Aaron Fuller the only certain starter. Chico McClatcher returns from injury in a possible timeshare with Andre Baccellia. Likewise, Jones and Quinten Pounds may share time as the third wideout. Even among the tight ends, Drew Sample, Jacob Kizer, and Cade Otton all appear likely to get significant playing time. Bryant will likely return at some point, and DeShon Williams, Jusstis Warren, Michael Neal, and Devin Culp could all force their way onto the field.
Oh, and if that’s not muddled enough, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed have both proven to be adept pass catchers out of the backfield. Even Sean McGrew has excelled as an all-purpose back in camp, so add his name to the list of possible receiving threats. Browning will have a long list of players to target, but will any of them be good? Let’s discuss the possible leaders in receiving yards.
Aaron Fuller– The case for Fuller is that he came on as the season progressed, including 61 yards and a TD against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. He is also the only WR listed as a starter on the most recent depth chart without an OR with whom he’ll share time. On the other hand, Fuller recorded 0 or 1 catches seven times last year, so he must show better consistency.
Chico McClatcher– In all likelihood, Chico would have finished second on the team in yardage last year but for his injury. He has returned and played well out of the slot in fall camp without apparent limitations. He totaled 574 yards in 2016 in a complementary role. Is that Chico’s upside, or does he have the ability to do more? He will likely have the opportunity to prove one way or the other this year.
Myles Gaskin– He shouldn’t lead the team in receiving yards. If he does, many other things will have gone wrong. Still, Gaskin has gone from 19 to 137 to 232 receiving yards in his three seasons. If he continues that trajectory and finishes somewhere around 350 yards, it’s possible that he could edge out a receiver-by-committee group.
Andre Baccellia– Like Fuller, Baccellia is an undersized receiver who showed flashes down the stretch. He caught multiple passes in each of the Huskies’ final four games. His name comes up regularly when the coaches talk about the receiving corps. Again, nothing he has done so far makes him look like a #1 option, but neither has anyone else in this group.
Quinten Pounds– Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Pounds is another junior who has experienced ups and downs. He is one of the faster receivers on the roster and a possible deep threat. He had two catches that went for over 40 yards last year, which isn’t a bad rate considering he only had 10 total catches.
Ty Jones– As a sophomore, Jones could conceivably have more untapped potential than the juniors who have had more time in the program. His 6’4, 209-lb frame is also unique. With Bryant out of the lineup, Jones could develop into a reliable possession receiver and security blanket for Browning. Out of the returning group, he’s a good long-shot bet.
Drew Sample– Is it realistic to expect a senior with 21 total career catches to break out to lead the team? Sample is more of a blocking TE in the mold of former roommate Will Dissly, but even Dissly got close to 300 yards last year. If Bryant can’t get back into the lineup and Sample is reliable, it’s at least in the realm of possibility.
Terrell Bynum– He gets his own entry because he has a combination of pedigree and experience that many of the other newcomers don’t. Bynum has a redshirt year under his belt, so he knows the program better than some of the other options. He also came to UW in a higher regard than many of his peers; he was a consensus 4-star recruit and chose UW over offers from the likes of USC, Notre Dame, Miami, Oklahoma, and Michigan. Choosing Bynum would be a bet on his talent, but stranger things have happened.
Hunter Bryant– No, he likely won’t start the season. Still, Bryant is probably the most talented name on this list and the only one who has functioned as a #1 receiving threat. If he returns in time to play eight or more games, he could definitely pile up significant yardage.
Longshots- There are many freshmen (of the true and redshirt variety) who will figure in the passing game, including Marquis Spiker, Trey Lowe, Alex Cook, Austin Osborne, and Devin Culp. Sophomore Jordan Chin is another darkhorse who has generated some buzz. Maybe Salvon Ahmed or Sean McGrew will break a few screens for big yardage.
If I had to choose one, I would take Fuller, but not with a lot of confidence. Even if he’s on top of the depth chart and the practice reports have been favorable, it would be nice to see him have one game as a #1-caliber receiver before we give him that moniker. My favorite long-shot bet is Ty Jones due to his size and possession skills, and Hunter Bryant remains a candidate based on his health. What do you think?
Who will lead the Huskies in receiving yards?
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