Breaking Down ASU’s Wide Receivers for the 2013 Season

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Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly had a great 2012 season, with over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.

His top three targets weren’t even wide receivers, and the two leading receivers that did contribute, Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles, have graduated. This leaves a huge opening in the wide receiver position for 2013.

Head coach Todd Graham went all-out in recruiting for the open slots.

I will break down the remaining receivers and also look at the new crop of recruits at the wide receiver position. And I will spice it up with reports on the tight end and running backs out of the backfield.

Chris Coyle

  • coyleHeight: 6’3″
  • Weight: 230
  • Year: Redshirt Senior

The Sun Devils’ leading receiver in the 2012 season came out of the H-Back position in the big, strong Chris Coyle out of Westlake Village, Calif. Coyle’s father, Rick, is a retired Navy man and has taught him well about discipline and mental toughness.

2012 was Coyle’s breakout season, as he finished with 57 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns. His 57 receptions also broke the school record for single-season receptions by a Sun Devil tight end. The record was previously held by Seattle Seahawks stud Zach Miller.

Coyle had two multiple-touchdown games in 2012 against Washington State and Illinois. The Illinois game, in which he had 10 receptions for 131 yards, was his best performance of the year. His two touchdowns were quick, goal-line outlets from Michael Eubank.

Coyle led the Sun Devils in receptions with 57, total yards with 696 and average yards per game with 53.5. Look for him to continue his stellar play as he prepares for the 2014 NFL draft.

Kevin Ozier

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 196
  • Year: Redshirt Senior

Kevin Ozier will be playing in his final season for the Sun Devils in 2013 and will be lining up as the Y receiver once again.

Ozier finished the 2012 campaign with 21 receptions for 324 yards, averaging 15.4 yards per carry. He scored five touchdowns, including two against California on Sept. 29. He has not racked up a 100-yard game in his career, but that’s due to limited receptions.

Ozier’s career-long reception was 52 yards against Utah, but he has had several 20-plus-yard receptions, which garnered him second-highest yards per reception on the team.

Richard Smith

  • r smithHeight: 5’9″
  • Weight: 164
  • Year: Sophomore

Richard Smith is a small but very quick receiver. He will be starting out of the Z position in 2013 with the departure of Jamal Miles. Smith will also be handling return duties left vacant by Miles and Rashad Ross.

Smith played in all 13 games as a true freshman—a true testament to his football acumen and ability to quickly adapt to the football scheme at the Division I level. He recorded 14 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

In the 2012 season opener against Northern Arizona, Smith also had three rushing attempts for 29 yards, including a 17-yard scamper. Once he hits open field, his speed makes him deadly.

His best game came against Colorado, where he had four receptions for 51 yards and a 31-yard touchdown.

Alonzo Agwuenu

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 211
  • Year: Redshirt Senior

The junior college transfer from Mt. San Antonio played in 11 games in the 2012 season behind leading wide receiver Rashad Ross. He will be starting his final season at the X position vacated by Ross.

Agwuenu finished with 11 receptions on the year for 115 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came against Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

He was instrumental in the Sun Devils’ final three games and proved that he deserves the starting spot heading into the 2013 season.

Kyle Middlebrooks

  • kyle midHeight: 5’9″
  • Weight: 183
  • Year: Junior

Kyle Middlebrooks was converted from running back to wide receiver in the 2012 season due to the crowded backfield and thin receiver depth.

He saw action in 10 games, but only recorded a single reception on the year in the Sept. 22 game against Utah.

Middlebrooks is very fast and is tough to bring down once he gains separation. He may join Richard Smith in kickoff and punt return duties.

It is unsure if he will make an impact with so many new receivers being signed to the roster. But he has experience and veteran leadership that the younger kids can look to.

Tight Ends

Grant Martinez

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 210
  • Year: True Freshman

Grant Martinez is a hometown product out of Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Preparatory. He ranked as the No. 12 recruit out of Arizona and the No. 31 tight end in the country, according to Rivals.

De’Marieya Nelson

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 230
  • Year: Redshirt Junior

De’Marieya Nelson is a junior college transfer from San Joaquin Delta College. He has two years remaining of eligibility. Rated by ESPN as the nation’s No. 8 junior college tight end and No. 78 prospect overall, look for Nelson to fill Coyle’s spot as the No. 1 TE/H-Back in the 2014 season.

Darwin Rogers

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 243
  • Year: Senior

Darwin Rogers joined the Sun Devils at the beginning of 2012 after graduating from Arizona Western in Yuma, Ariz. He saw action in 12 games last season, starting one against Cal. He recorded three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown against Cal.

The New Guys

Sun Devil head coach Todd Graham knew that he needed to go strong for wide receivers on national signing day and came away with five receivers that can make an immediate impact.

Graham stated in his national signing day press conference that his “number one offensive goal was dynamic players at wide receiver.”

Along with Martinez and Nelson joining at the tight end position, Graham signed two junior college transfers and three true freshmen at the wide receiver position.

Jaelen Strong

  • jaelenHeight: 6’4″
  • Weight: 205
  • Year: Redshirt Sophomore

The transfer student from Pierce Community College was heavily recruited by 13 different schools. Strong will have four years to play three at Arizona State and joins Pierce teammate Joseph Morris.

He was rated as a 4-star prospect, the No. 6 junior college wide receiver and the No. 15 overall prospect by ESPN.

Coach Graham had this to say about Strong: “He’s the most dynamic receiver I’ve seen in a long time on film. Our fans will love this guy.”

Ronald Lewis

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 185
  • Year: True Freshman

Ronald Lewis comes to Arizona State all the way from Harvey, La. He was the No. 27 recruit out of Louisiana, according to Rivals, and the No. 127 wide receiver prospect in the nation, according to ESPN. He had many offers, including from Nebraska and Texas A&M, but chose Arizona State to be part of something great.

He will also get time in the return game, as Coach Graham said about him: “You’ll see with watching his film that he is one of the most dynamic play makers in return game. When the ball is in his hand he is electrifying.”

More New Faces

Cameron Smith

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 185
  • Year: True Freshman

Smith is a very fast and very smart athlete from Coppell, Texas. He had several offers, including ones from Wisconsin, Iowa and Houston and was rated as the No. 123 wide receiver prospect in the country by Scout.com.

Graham on Smith: “He’s a big time deep threat, a guy who can stress the field vertically, a guy who is a dynamic wide receiver, so we’re excited about Cameron.”

Joseph Morris

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 200
  • Year: Junior

A junior college transfer from Pierce College, Morris signed with Jaelen Strong. He’s rated by ESPN as the country’s No. 16 junior college wide receiver prospect and the No. 61 prospect overall.

Graham on Morris: “One of the most physical wide receivers in the country. We think he will be a very great pack with what we are doing.”

Ellis Jefferson

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 200
  • Year: True Freshman

Jefferson is the same size as Morris, so that says something about what Graham was looking for in receivers.

The Denton, Texas, native travels to Arizona State after turning down offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, among others. Scout.com rated him as the No. 82 wide receiver prospect in the nation, and he was ranked No. 136 by ESPN.

Graham on Jefferson: “He is a guy that comes in and knows what it takes to win.”

Final Wrap-Up

Two of the top three receivers for the Sun Devils in 2012 were running backs.

Marion Grice not only led the team in rushing with 679 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he also pulled in 425 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.

grice RBHe finished No. 24 in scoring in Division I with 114 total points and 12.7 per game. His eight receiving touchdowns were the most by any running back in the country—quite a feat for the senior who was a junior college transfer from Blinn Community College following in Cam Newton’s footsteps.

True freshman D.J. Foster was the team’s No. 3 receiver with 38 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns. His average of 14 yards per reception was No. 5 in the nation among running backs. Foster carried for over 500 yards on 102 attempts and tallied two touchdowns on the ground.

With the departure of the heart of the running game, Cameron Marshall, and the addition of several new receivers, will Grice and Foster return to a more conventional running scheme?

That is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure: It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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