Auburn spring questions: Identifying a No. 2 receiver

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 15, 2014 

Auburn Football

Auburn's Ricardo Louis gets past Western Carolina's Christon Gill to catch a 46-yard pass for a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday's game. The Tigers went on to win 62-3.

ANTHONY HALL — Anthony Hall

Auburn's spring practice starts March 18. But as with any team, the Tigers have questions they'll try to answer in various areas. In that vein, beat writer Ryan Black has come up with 10 queries, looking at position battles, individual players and everything in between. The series continues by looking at the receivers.

Who will step up to complement Sammie Coates as another consistent pass-catcher?

If you watched Auburn last year, it was clear to see Coates was the go-to option in the passing game.

But the stats back up the "eye test." Coates led the team in every receiving category, from receptions (42) to receiving yards (902) to touchdowns (seven) and yards per catch (21.5).

What the Tigers lacked was a consistent threat aside from Coates.

From game to game, it changed. One week it was C.J. Uzomah or Marcus Davis. Other weeks it was Ricardo Louis. All three of those are still candidates to slide into the No. 2 role this spring. But another receiver will be inserted into the equation as well: uber-recruit D'haquille Williams.

The Louisiana native was the country's top-ranked junior college prospect regardless of position, and as such, is expected to come in and compete for a starting job immediately. In two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams caught 118 passes for 2,028 yards and 26 touchdowns. And each of those seasons were impressive in their own way. His first year at the junior college level was a sensational one, as he was named an All-America after tallying 67 receptions (17 for TDs) and 1,295 yards. Yes, Williams' numbers dropped off last year (51 receptions, 733 yards, nine TDs), but that's only because he missed games due to injury.

In a way, his ability almost undermines this question; if Williams plays up to his potential, he might leapfrog Coates to become the Tigers' top receiver. Regardless of the order, Coates and Williams should combine to form a lethal 1-2 punch.

That doesn't mean Louis, Davis and Uzomah (or the other wideouts on the roster) are rendered meaningless. Davis and Louis and better suited to play slot receiver, while Uzomah has never been someone to catch passes in bulk. Instead, he makes the most of opportunities when the ball comes his way. Just look at last season. Of his 11 receptions, three went for touchdowns.

With that kind of depth at receiver, Auburn will put the ball in the air far more than it did in 2013.

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