Post-Spring Review: Wide Receivers
With spring in the books, we're taking a look at every position group from the spring and where they stand going into the 2021 season. Today, we're looking at the wide receivers
Nam: Throughout camp, this wide receiver room has received praise for their ability to go up and get the ball, particularly from difficult positions. We got to see a little bit of that in the spring game, and perhaps just as importantly, a lot of look at the depth at the position.
Here’s where they are heading into the fall:
Trace: As a whole, this may be the most talented group that the Bears have had at the position. Athletically, the Bears have added talent, especially in the 2020 recruiting class and with the two 2021 wideouts coming in.
Cal only used four wideouts last fall, but the assembled talent at the position should lead to a deeper rotation in 2021 and beyond.
The Group as a Whole
Nikko Remigio/Trevon Clark/Kekoa Crawford –
Nam: For simplicity’s sake, and partly because they did not play extraordinary amounts in front of the camera for the Spring Game, I’ve decided to group the three of them together. All three are returning as the elder statesmen in the WR room, and Remigio in particular looks set to rebound after a baffling 2020 in which he was largely underutilized. A long ball over McWilliams was his only catch during the camera portion.
Trace: At this point, Cal knows what they've got in the three seniors. In Crawford, you've got a consistent route runner with some speed, one who's looking to put it all together and has taken a more vocal role. In Remigio, you have a shifty open field player who can win games with his effort, and should be a dangerous return man.
Jeremiah Hunter –
Trace: Hunter received plenty of praise throughout the spring as someone who does something that stands out in every practice by Bill Musgrave, and he has everything you want in a wide receiver, as far as speed, catch radius, and run after catch ability. This fall will be his time to show it.
Nam: Only one catch during the public portion of practice – a tightly guarded grab on the left sideline - but I remain very confident on the prospect of Hunter as an impact player. Again, internal buzz on him is way high, and it was certainly being fed to Yogi Roth, who said on the broadcast that Hunter had as much, or more potential as anyone on the roster. It’s hedging, to be sure, but it’s just not language you use about (essentially a true) freshman who has yet to see a snap in game.
Aidan Lee –
Nam: Here’s the big winner of the Spring Game stock exchange – Lee showed off some noticeable shiftiness, size, and quickness from the last time we saw him (on tape as a senior), which was a tremendous jump from the first time we saw him (on tape as a junior). With his frame and general athleticism, I think there’s room for the Bears to even play him in some H-Back style looks if they want to.
Trace: One thing Lee could end up doing is taking jet sweeps or some handoffs, having played running back for a good portion of high school. He's a different build from the other wideouts, but his athleticism at his size (6'1" and 225) makes him stick out.
Monroe Young –
Nam: Showed some of the ability that made him a guy to watch coming out of New Mexico as a freshman when he beat Hunter Barth on a deep cross from Garbers at the spring game. The depth chart above him is notably crowded, though.
Trace: Young will play because Burl Toler, Bill Musgrave, and Justin Wilcox love wide receivers who can block. Young takes pride in his blocking, and he's got decent speed and runs sharp routes. He's made himself available to play, and the staff has taken notice.
Justin Baker –
Nam: Seen often during the Spring Game, arguably should have scored one if the refs were slightly friendlier. Incredibly well-built. May factor in early as a returner.
Trace: Heard plenty of positive things about Baker in the aftermath of spring, has speed from the slot, can make contested catches, has a fantastic attitude toward the game of football, and is extremely disciplined with taking care of his body.
Tommy Christakos –
Nam: Like Lee, probably further along than anticipated, drawing rave reviews from the program at all press conferences so far. Can carve out an early role as the red zone guy – only he and Trevon Clark are 6’4 among the receivers, and the freshman boasts 15 pounds on his senior.
Trace: Arguably the most improved player throughout the spring, he earned the moniker 'Top-Shelf Tommy,' one that came from his ability to catch jump balls, not for his preferences in tequila. Christakos fills the niche of a bigger bodied receiver, one that Stanford used to torment the conference with for a few years.
Mason Mangum –
Nam: Going to have to fight his way for a spot, based on the current pecking order. The Bears projected him originally as a slot threat (he's likelier now to play at the X or Z receiver spot), and the field will be rather open there after the top half of the depth chart graduates.
Trace: Mangum did track in addition to spring ball, which meant he didn't play in the spring game, but Toler noted he may be the fastest player on the team as far as straight line speed goes. That could earn him playing time when fall camp comes around.