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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Football

Looking at UH football’s loaded wide receiver room entering the season


UH football's Tank Dell was tabbed a preseason All American by Pro Football Network heading into the 2022 season. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

UH football’s Tank Dell was tabbed a preseason All American by Pro Football Network heading into the 2022 season. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Entering the 2021 season, wide receiver depth was a major concern for Dana Holgorsen. Other than Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, there was no clear-cut receiver on the UH football roster to fill the No. 2 and 3 roles at the position

“We were a one-man show last year,” Holgorsen said.

This will not be an issue in 2022 as the Cougars’ receiver room is absolutely loaded with skill.

“We have playmakers at every position, X, H, Y and Z, and we’re at least two deep at each of those positions,” said UH starting quarterback Clayton Tune. “It’s really nice for me and it’s really nice for the receivers too because you want to be able to rotate guys in and keep legs fresh. You don’t want to run the receivers into the ground throughout the game. It’s really good to have those guys out there who are able to make plays and make my job easy.”

The returners

Dell, who is coming off a 1,329-yard, 12 touchdown season, is back and will be the focal point of UH’s air attack. Though small in stature, Dell’s lightning-quick speed combined with his shiftiness and precise route running make him a defensive back’s worst nightmare.

Tune described his favorite target as “unguardable.” Holgorsen echoed Tune when asked about the Cougars’ star receiver, specifically citing how difficult Dell is to guard when he lines up in the slot, something which will be seen much more in 2022 compared to the 2021 season.

“Once we moved him inside you can just tell you can’t cover him,” Holgorsen said. “He is an elite inside receiver.”

Dell has lofty expectations for his junior season including hauling in more than 100 receptions and scoring 15-plus touchdowns.

Along with Dell, KeSean Carter, who missed the final five games of the 2021 season with a foot injury, is back and fully healthy.

While Carter, who transferred to UH from Texas Tech in 2021, played a limited role in his first year as a Cougar big things are expected from the 5-foot-11-inch receiver in his senior season.

Carter has caught UH associate head coach and defensive coordinator Doug Belk’s eye with how he’s performed through the early stages of fall camp.

“KeSean is a guy that has real real juice man and he is highly highly competitive,” Belk said. “He plays receiver like he plays safety. He’s physical. He’s tough. He loves the grind.”

Dell called Carter “his partner in crime” on the field and expects him to play a big role in the UH offense this season.

Tight end Christian Trahan, who was second on the team in 2021 in receptions with 37, also returns.

Fantastic frosh

Klein Cain standout and four-star recruit Matthew Golden already has sky-high expectations on him despite not having yet played a single snap at the college level.

Big things are expected out of freshman wideout Matthew Golden in his first year with the UH football program. | James Mueller/The Cougar

Big things are expected out of freshman wideout Matthew Golden in his first year with the UH football program. | James Mueller/The Cougar

Golden, who was heavily targeted by many Power Five programs before committing to UH, joins the Cougars after posting 1,416 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Klein Cain.

The freshman receiver, who joined the team in the spring, has already caught the attention of his teammates for his abilities on the football field.

“Matthew Golden, he’s going to be special,” Dell said. “I feel like Matthew, he has the talent to be the next star at receiver at UH. That man is something special. You are going to see this year.”

Holgorsen told the media that Golden was the Cougars’ starting Z-receiver entering fall camp. 

Talented transfers

With receiver depth as a priority, Holgorsen and his staff loaded up the position through the transfer portal, adding Sam Brown from West Virginia, Joseph Manjack from USC, Cody Jackson from Oklahoma and Brice Johnson from Ole Miss.

While all four of these transfers saw limited action at their previous schools, the raw talent and athleticism are there. Jackson is a former four-star recruit, and Manjack and Brown were both three-star recruits.

Holgorsen has said that all the transfers have all shown positive progression and the competition amongst the group has been strong.

One of the biggest benefits of all the different options the transfer receivers bring to the offense is it will allow the Cougars to line up Dell in the slot, where he is most lethal, more often.

Overall, with the combination of the returners and new weapons at receiver that UH has, Holgorsen is confident that they will allow Tune to thrive within the Cougars’ offensive system in 2022 because he now has more than just one option to throw the ball to.

“Probably the biggest key is we’ve got better pieces around (Tune),” Holgorsen said.

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