Previewing the top five Cougar receivers in 2016
Despite how the Cougars were in the top half of the NCAA in total passing yards last season, there were times when it seemed like the only person catching the ball was Demarcus Ayers.
With Ayers now taking his talents to the NFL, his position is currently vacant. Here are the top five receivers heading into the 2016 season.
Senior Chance Allen
The former University of Oregon Duck is primed and ready to fill Ayers’ shoes after having a successful first season with the Cougars last year.
At 6-foot-3, Allen towers over most defensive backs and will be able to fight for any ball that comes his way. His size allows him to be a primary target in the end zone, and he should record more than the six touchdowns he had last year.
Allen also has a quick first step, which should help to create space between him and his defender.
With senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. at the helm, expect Allen to go well over 1,000 yards for the season.
Junior Steven Dunbar
Another 6-foot-3 receiver, Dunbar is a younger version of Allen and will use his size and strength to make plays against smaller defensive backs.
Dunbar does not possess Allen’s speed, but he runs routes with precision and is great at gaining separation from his defender.
The Allen and Dunbar combo should cause headaches for defensive coordinators when the Cougars are in the red zone.
Junior Ra’Shaad Samples
Samples is new to the Cougars and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s offense, but he is one of the most talented receivers on the roster.
Samples is a versatile receiver that can play down the field or over the middle. He has an explosive first step, which will allow him to work in space. He is also good at making defenders miss in the open field.
Junior Linell Bonner
Bonner only had 25 receptions last season, but five of those went for touchdowns. Bonner doesn’t possess extraordinary speed, but he has great hands.
With the three receivers in front of him, expect Bonner to produce a similar stat line to last season. It is, however, unlikely that he comes away with as many touchdowns.
Sophomore Isaiah Johnson
Johnson is a redshirt sophomore who didn’t get a lot of looks last year, but he commanded attention in the annual Red & White game this spring. He went for nearly 300 yards and hauled in three touchdowns.
His dominance in the spring game could be chalked up to the fact that Allen and Samples sat out, but at 6-foot-4 with a 4.5 40-yard dash, Johnson should get more opportunities on the field.