Position breakdown: Receiver 

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- When last Texas unfurled four wide receivers with a quarterback who proved to be slightly more than adequate (Colt McCoy), six players caught 30 or more passes.

Last season, with a quarterback not near the stature of McCoy but not a slouch either, only Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley had more than 30 receptions.

[+] EnlargeMike Davis
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallMike Davis returns at Texas' top deep-threat and playmaker.
So to say changes in the new-yet-old spread offense are afoot or at hand for the Texas wide receivers is an understatement of well, Texas-sized proportions.

The first of those changes might be to find more wide receivers. While Texas does have its top two wide receivers, Davis and Shipley, back in the fold, it has lost Marquise Goodwin (26 catches) and has no other wide receiver who had more than 10 catches in 2012. Bryant Jackson has the most with eight. Next in line are Cayleb Jones and John Harris with two each.

So the priority now becomes finding bodies to throw on the field and to throw to. And, really beyond the aforementioned Davis, Shipley, Jackson and Jones (Harris is being switched to a hybrid tight end spot), there are not that many from which to choose.

There are at most three more legitimate candidates who complete Texas’ complement of wide receivers: Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson and Daje Johnson. In total, that is seven players. Remember in 2009, Texas had six true wide receivers each catch at least 30 or more balls. So the depth at the position is not optimal but, to retread the maddening catch-all that Mack Brown uses to gloss over actual explanations, it is what it is.

And with that, here it is:

Davis and Shipley: Each should push into at least the 60s in receptions as more one-on-one coverages are thrown their way with more receivers in pass patterns. This spring, play-caller Major Applewhite will need to experiment with how much to utilize Davis as a deep threat while also continuing to foster the chemistry between quarterback David Ash and Shipley.

Keeping Davis mentally engaged is another crucial component this spring. The rising senior briefly toyed with the idea of leaving for the NFL draft. And sometimes when that happens, a player who has a bad practice or two can be nagged with regrets that he didn’t leave. Davis has shown in the past that he mentally can be pulled away from the game. But, on the flip side of that, as a junior Davis showed that he had matured and was dedicated.

Shipley should emerge as a clear winner in the switch to spread. Given his abilities, that is a win for the entire Texas program.

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