2013 Recap: SMU’s receivers got back on track in 2013, with Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman recording over 1,000 yards and Darius Joseph bursting onto the scene with over 100 catches. Johnson and Holman are now gone, but SMU could be getting some more speed on the field. Der’rikk Thompson was second on the team’s starting group with 14.3 yards per catch, but only managed 32 catches for 459 yards and two touchdowns. As the most senior member of the receiving corps with Stephen Nelson, Thompson has to step up and make some big plays. Blessed with elite speed, SMU fans have been waiting on “Bird,” to step up in a big way the last couple seasons.
After the problems with drops and poor routes in 2012, it was a solid bounce-back year for the Ponies’ receivers and something to build off of going into 2014.
2014 PreviewFollowing the graduations of Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman and the cutting of JaBryce Taylor, last season’s most promising freshman receiver, SMU is looking at a receiving core without the depth nor experience that has served the Mustangs so well in previous seasons.
Joseph will be SMU’s primary target on offense this season and is the only receiver on the roster with serious experience at the college level. Last year as a sophomore, Joseph caught 103 passes for 808 yards and five touchdowns. However, at six-feet tall and 195-pounds, Joseph does not have the physical gifts one expects out of a number one option.
There are few wideouts on the roster who stand taller than Joseph. One is Justin Musser (6-foot-3), who redshirted last season and will see limited action this season. Another is 6-foot-2 Jeremiah Gaines, a rising-junior. Gaines only played in four games in 2013 due to injuries and did not catch more than two balls in any of those four games. Gaines can be a contributor in 2014 but he is still a developing talent and nowhere near a finished product.
The only other receivers on the roster with experience are former walk-on senior Nelson and the flashy Deion Sanders, Jr. Sanders began last season returning kicks and as injuries mounted he got some reps at receiver. However, he only caught seven balls for 45 yards.
Sanders will be locked in a battle with Cedric Lancaster, who June Jones called one of the fastest players he’s ever coached.
As for the incoming freshmen, Jordan Ingram is the most likely to contribute in 2014. After flirting with TCU, Ingram will be a nice addition to the SMU offense. He is a good slot receiver and will elude linebackers in the middle of the field.
Other than that, do not expect much from the freshmen. Khadeem Goulbourne is taking a greyshirt season to heal from a knee injury and Ryheem Malone and Shelby Walker will not be immediate contributors.
Unknown to Watch: Everyone knows Jeremiah Gaines and how heralded he was coming into last season, expected to be moved around and be an immediate contributor. Other teams don’t know Gaines though and SMU will be able to use him to cause major matchup problems. Stephen Nelson is a veteran who knows the offense better than any of the receivers, but Gaines’ pure talent will be tough to keep off the field. Watch out for Chris Hipps too, a former all-state receiver, who should be on the SMU roster come training camp time.
Star of the Group: Darius Joseph is without a doubt going to be one of Burcham’s or Davis’ go-to-guys, but for true star power, I’m going to go with Cedric Lancaster. June Jones has called Lancaster one of the fastest players to ever play for him and that will be the reason why Lancaster breaks out much like Joseph did last year. Joseph was last out of receivers with over 10 catches in terms of yards per catch at 7.8 yards. Lancaster is going to be a deep threat and could develop into a gamebreaker much Keenan Holman did last year.