Improved Wide Receivers Making A Big Difference

Virginia Tech’s receivers have developed under Holmon Wiggins. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Remember the early years in the ACC when Virginia Tech was deep with talent at the wide receiver position? Back when the receivers were guys like David Clowney, Josh Morgan, Eddie Royal, Justin Harper, and Josh Hyman? The level of talent was good enough where every player was capable of starting, and the talent behind them pushed the starters to play even better. Those early years in the conference might have featured the deepest group of talent at receiver Virginia Tech has had since joining the conference. Although, the 2011 receiver group was solid as well, led by Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale, DJ Coles, Dyrell Roberts, and Marcus Davis.

It’s no coincidence those teams were able to win so many games with the amount of depth they had at receiver. When an offense can go that deep into their rotation at receiver without much drop-off, that’s when the offense starts to operate much faster.

In previous years, the receiver group was fairly top heavy, with a wide margin between the starters at the top and the rest. When head coach Justin Fuente first inherited receivers Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, and Bucky Hodges, there was a noticeable drop-off in talent and experience. Last year, the lone-veteran, Cam Phillips, was responsible for 58% of the team’s catches (71) amongst receivers, and that was a year he didn’t even get to finish due to injury. That was a depleted receiving group that forced a lot of young guys to grow up fast last season. It’s essentially the same situation we’re witnessing this year with the defensive backs.

Six-Man Rotation

This season, we’re finally seeing progress. Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen has aimed to have at least six receivers he can rotate, and thanks to their commitment to building that depth through proper evaluations, player development and effective recruiting, the offense now has the talent and capability to open up the playbook even further.