Football Preview: The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Second in a series of stories looking at the Rockets by position.
The favorite target for Toledo's quarterbacks for the past three seasons was unquestionably Eric Page. Page, who caught a MAC-record 306 passes as a Rocket, opted to begin his NFL career following his junior season, which would seem to leave a gaping hole in Toledo's offense.
Not so fast.
Page was a big loss, no doubt, but thus far it looks like the Toledo receiving corps could shape up just fine. Which is good news, considering how often the Rockets like to toss the ball around in their spread offense.
"We designed a lot of our passing game around Eric," said head coach Matt Campbell. "But with him gone, I've seen our other receivers gain confidence because they know they are going to get the football. The football is going to be spread around a little more so we might have a more balanced passing game this season."
The leading candidate to help fill Page's shoes actually had his coming-out party in Page's final game as a collegian. Junior Bernard Reedy caught three touchdown passes in UT's 42-41 victory over Air Force in the 2011 Military Bowl, earning game MVP honors. Reedy had 40 receptions and nine touchdowns in 2011 and will have the opportunity to increase those totals this fall.
Said Campbell, "When you look at a guy like Bernard Reedy, he had 40 receptions and nine touchdowns last year. That's pretty impressive end-result productivity. He has the ability to be Toledo's next really good receiver."
None of the other wide receiver candidates have Reedy's experience, but the potential is there for immediate impact. Sophomore Dwight Macon caught seven passes for 115 yards in Toledo's 2012 spring game, leaving Rocket fans with the distinct impression that the quarterback/wide receiver may be catching more passes than throwing them in 2012. For the record, many Rocket fans will recall the last converted QB to move to wideout was none other than...Eric Page.
A Reedy-Macon combination would be a good start for the receiving corps, but Toledo will need other receivers to step up to keep its high-powered offense rolling. Veterans returning to the receiving corps include junior James Green and sophomore Justin Olack. Sophomore speedster Cassius McDowell must be mentioned, although it's beginning to look like he may settle in at running back.
Don't be surprised if a freshman or two gets a chance to play this fall. A pair of tall redshirt freshmen--6-4 Alonzo Russell and 6-2 Zach Rogers--have been impressive in training camp thus far, as has true freshman Danny Larkins.
Campbell moved senior Cordale Scott from wide receiver to tight end last spring and the one-time Illinois transfer is looking more comfortable in his new position every day.
"I'm really proud of the job that Cordale Scott has done at tight end," said Campbell. "We tried him there during the Military Bowl practices and it seemed like a good fit for him so we decided to make that move. He has some athleticism but he's big and has the ability to block. He can also make plays with the ball in his hands. He could be a match-up problem for teams."
Scott will be battling seniors Colby Kratch and Jared Strait, and sophomore Zac Rosenbauer (and possibly someone from a group of talented freshmen) for playing time.
Next: The Linebackers.
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