Indiana football head coach Kevin Wilson is best known for his fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense. IU averaged 306.7 passing yards and 508.5 total yards per game last season, which ranked 18th and 9th among the 125 football bowl subdivision (FBS) respectively. The Hoosiers’ successful passing attack was due in part to their exceptionally talented wide receivers. Let’s take a look at how this position will perform in the upcoming 2014 season.
IU lost a few key figures from last year’s receiving corps, the biggest being 2013 All Big Ten Conference selection Cody Latimer. After hauling in 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and scored 9 touchdowns, Latimer chose to forego his senior year at IU and declared for the NFL draft. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver wowed NFL scouts when he bench pressed 225 pounds more times than any other wide receiver at the annual NFL combine in Indianapolis, Ind. He impressed scouts again in March during IU’s pro day when he posted a sub 4.4 second 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical leap. Latimer was ultimately drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the draft in May.
The Hoosiers also lost senior wide receivers Kofi Hughes and Duwyce Wilson because their eligibility ran out. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Hughes is currently a part of the Houston Texans after he was picked up and released by the Washington Redskins when he went undrafted. Hughes was the other starting receiver for last year’s team. He had 47 receptions for 739 yards and scored 7 touchdowns. Wilson, who is 6-foot 3-inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, had 15 receptions for 167 yards with no scores while backing up Latimer.
Senior wide receiver Shane Wynn is the lone returning starter from last year’s group. Standing at just 5-feet-7, and weighing only 167 pounds, Wynn has been problematic for opposing defenses throughout his career at IU. Wynn’s production has increased each of his three years as IU’s slot receiver. He has reeled in 133 receptions for 1,490 and scored 17 touchdowns. Wynn has also proved to be the go-to return specialist as he has returned both a kick and punt return for a touchdown in his career.
Kevin Wilson’s offense typically has two bigger-bodied individuals play the outside wide receiver positions, and a smaller, quicker player plays the slot position. Although Wynn has owned the slot for the last three years, he will be called upon to play one of the outside positions due to the departures of Latimer and Hughes. Wynn is small, but with his exceptional speed and route running, he will succeed wherever he is placed on the field.
With Wynn being moved to the outside, the slot receiver position will be taken over by senior Isaiah Roundtree. Although he may not be as fast as Wynn, Roundtree possesses the quickness and route running abilities needed to play the slot. He also has a bigger frame at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds to fight through defenders in the middle of the field. Roundtree served as Wynn’s backup during last season, in which he caught 14 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.
The other starting outside position will be held by Nick Stoner. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior caught 12 passes for 226 yards and one score last season. . Although he is not as big as his predecessors (Hughes and Latimer), Stoner is regarded as the fastest player on the entire football team, and has shown big-play ability during his time as Hughes’ backup. His average of 18.8 yards per catch was higher than any other IU player by more than three yards. Stoner’s speed helped lead the Center Grove High School track and field team to a state championship in 2011 by winning several events. He also runs for the IU track team in the offseason.
Wilson likes to keep a similar receiving group as the starter’s backups. Freshman Isaac Griffith (6-foot tall and 194 pounds) and sophomore Caleb Cornett (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) will likely be the backups for Stoner and Wynn on the outside. Sophomores Ricky Jones (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) and Mitchell Paige (5-foot-7, 180 pounds) are options for Roundtree’s backup in the slot position.
IU’s football team will again feature a talented wide receiver core in 2014. Last year’s group with Latimer, Hughes and Wynn will be tough to top. With an experienced Roundtree in the slot and the speedsters Wynn and Stoner now on the outside, this year’s group has a chance to do so.