By the end of last season, it can be argued that no unit on the Syracuse football team was as snake-bitten by injury than the wide receivers. Alec Lemon and Van Chew, who had broken out earlier in the year, were hampered by injuries, Jarrod West's season ended before it began and Hofstra transfer Aaron Weaver went down with a season-ending injury after only a few games.
Obviously, we can't predict injuries, but this season Syracuse should not have this problem at receiver. The unit should have as much depth as any on the team, and had a lot of impressive performers this spring.
Marcus Sales: (A-) — It's pretty amazing what one great game can do. Last spring, Marcus Sales was a virtual non-factor, and that seemed to parlay into his play (or lack thereof) early on. As Marcus began practicing well, he got onto the field and we all know what happened next. Sales hasn't let up since his huge Pinstripe Bowl performance, and looked very good all spring. I expect more of the same from him this season.
Dorian Graham: (B) — Graham has always struggled catching the football, which is one of the reasons that many looked for him to move back to defense . However, he's made great gains in this area, and it really showed by the end of the spring camp. Graham is one of the fastest players on the team, and is a home run threat every time he goes deep. If he can haul in those passes, he may become one of the most exciting players on the team. He is also one of the best blocking wide receivers on the roster, which is definitely something that the staff looks for.
Alec Lemon: (B+) — Last spring, Lemon was one of the best players on the field every day. He faced a lot of scrutiny because of bad drops last season, but Alec looked a lot more like the player who we saw break out up in East Hartford two seasons ago this past spring, and will hopefully make the jump that we all expected from him last season.
Adrian Flemming: (B) — Flemming is one of the many young second-tier receivers looking to break into a larger role on the roster. He's a big receiver, standing at 6'3", and has very good jumping ability, and made some very acrobatic grabs during the spring. I can definitely envision Flemming being a real threat in the red zone with his size.
Jeremiah Kobena: (B+) — This kid can absolutely fly. Kobena is going to find the field in some capacity this year, as he has some great experience in high school as a return guy. I think that he can play a similar role to Graham in the offense, as a deep threat, and we may also see the team run some reverses for him, to get the ball in his hands in the open field.
Van Chew: (Inc.) — Chew sat out most of the spring with injury, and did very little in full-contact drills. Earlier today he tweeted "its safe to say that im back in the shape i was this time last year #grinding", so that sounds good. I expect more of what we saw early last season from Van. Cornerbacks beware.
Jarrod West: (C+) — West struggled catching the ball a lot early on, which was a bit disconcerting considering that he had the reputation as a sure-handed receiver in high school. However, it was his first live action in almost a year since he missed all of last season with an injury, so he may not have had all of the rust shaken off. He looked much better in the second half of the spring, and is a big target for Ryan Nassib and the other quarterbacks.
Overall Grade: (B+) — All of the players listed can definitely play some role at this level right now, and our receivers have a great blend of skills. It will be really interesting to see how the playing time shakes out, but we should have enough talent here to withstand injury better than we did last year, and I'm sure that Nassib can't wait to go out on the field and have so many legitimate targets.