Utah State's receivers seem to always make names for themselves. "It's a really exciting offense to be a part of," says offensive coordinator Jim Zorn.
In the all-star 1993 season, tight end Aubrey Thompson and H-back Mike Lee were first-team All-Big West and split end Cotie McMahon was honorable mention with the best per-catch average (18.7 yards) among the league's top 10 receivers. Flanker Toney Jenkins added 14.2 yards a catch on 33 attempts.Thompson, Lee, McMahon and Jenkins are gone now, but Zorn sees the potential to be "better than last year" at receiver. "It's uncertainty in an exciting way," he says. "Our uncertainty is which guys will step up.
"We will make different plays work than what we did last year. Last year, the counter play worked real good. It may be different this year," Zorn says.
Even though James Dye (moved to H-back) quit football, there still seems to be tremendous depth in receiving - six men vying for the tight end position vacated by Thompson, for instance.
Senior Xavier Foreman is listed No. 1 at tight end, but James Ward also has some experience, and JC transfer Mike Hamilton has been turning heads in practices this week. "He's showing me something right now," says TE coach Nate Kaczor. "He's a great athlete; we're really liking him." Kevin Corner, Kevin Welch and basketball player Novich Hunter, a football walk-on, are also trying for this spot that is very important to the Aggie offense.
USU uses its tight end as a receiver first, going for good hands when recruiting. They'll teach them to block, Kaczor says.
"If you've got a good pass receiver at tight end, the defense cannot stay all day on him with a linebacker," says Zorn. "They have to use a defensive back, and that weakens their run-stopping ability."
At split end, junior Kevin Alexander has experience and the speed to be a deep threat, says Zorn, and flanker Shawn Turner, a sophomore, "has more speed than Jenkins," Zorn says. Walk-on Demetrius Steward has impressed the coaches as a flanker, too. Ivy Russell is the backup at split end. At H-back, there's senior Duane Williams, the likely starter, and freshman Dwight Patton, who awed bystanders with a catch he made Wednesday. He's just been moved from cornerback.