Going into the 2013 season, wide receiver was supposed to be a strength of the team. But injuries at both receiver and quarterback hampered the passing game, which mean that it was a disappointing season for the passing game. So what to expect from 2014? Let's look at who's gone, who's back, and who's new:
Quincy Enunwa (graduated)
Tyler Wullenwaber (retired due to injury)
Kenny Bell, Senior
Jamal Turner, Senior
Tyler Evans, Senior
Sam Burtch, Junior
Taariq Allen, Junior
Jordan Westerkamp, Sophomore
Brandon Reilly, Sophomore
Alonzo Moore, Sophomore
Kevin Gladney, Redshirt Freshman
Christian Bailey, Redshirt Freshman
Ishmail Jackson, Redshirt Freshman
Gabe Rahn, Redshirt Freshman
Expectations were pretty high on Kenny Bell to have a huge 2013 season...and that didn't happen. Some of that was due to injuries, both to him and Taylor Martinez. Let's be honest, more than once, Tommy Armstrong put Kenny Bell in a really, really tough spot to make the catch. More often than not, he did it...but paid the price for it.
Funny thing about Bell's "down" season; he still caught more passes in 2013 than he did in 2011 or 2012. It's just the yardage were down, from 863 yards and eight touchdowns down to 577 yards and four touchdowns. I suspect that those numbers will rebound in 2014.
Fellow senior Jamal Turner battled hamstring and calf injuries that limited him to just 13 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in eight games. Will he bounce back to the form he showed at the end of the 2012 season? While he was redshirting in 2012, teammates said that Jordan Westerkamp had the best hands on the team. And he showed that on offense in 2013, catching 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown that will earn him free drinks for life in any bar in the state of Nebraska. Best hands didn't mean perfect hands, though. With Turner hampered by injuries, he took over the punt return duty and bobbled several punts. And when he did make the catch, he wasn't able to gain much yardage. That wasn't his fault entirely; he had no blocking to even give him a chance to get started. Still, he's not a receiver who's going to make plays with his legs.
The injuries to Bell and Turner gave opportunities to several youngsters who look like they'll contribute in 2014. Junior Sam Burtch made the most of his playing time, catching 12 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. He may be remembered most for his block on Ameer Abdullah's long run against Penn State. Sophomore Alonzo Moore showed some playmaking ability in the second half of the season until he suffered a leg injury against Michigan State. He'll miss spring practice getting a shoulder injury healed up. Junior Taariq Allen saw the field a bit late in the season as he recovers from a serious knee injury suffered in 2012.
Predicted depth chart:
X: Kenny Bell, Brandon Reilly
A: Jamal Turner, Jordan Westerkamp
Z: Sam Burtch or Alonzo Moore
2013 Receiving Statistics
Players in bold are gone. Who's going to make up for Enunwa's 12 TDs?