Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ultimate Navy Preview 2007: Wide Recievers

Past Position Previews: [Quarterback] [Fullback][Slotback]

On to the Three Deep!

O.J. Washington: One of the few players on the roster who seems to receive at least semi-consistent praise from Coach Johnson, Washington has been touted as one of the best blockers on this Navy team, and rightfully so. Not only does he seem to "stick" blockers, he's seemingly always in the right place at the right time. It's that ability to redirect defenders and spring ball carriers which makes him one of the most underrated players on the entire team. While he's know for his ability as a blocker, Washington is also a solid possession receiver who has good hands and uses his body well. Not to get overly cliche on you, but he views the field well and understands how to sit down on sideline routes. He'll be challenged this year by more aggressive corners, but he's clearly the number one guy here and can only improve on what was already a good 2006.

Tyree Barnes: A big target at 6'2, 188, Barnes has also shown big-play capability during his first two years at the Academy. While he's only caught twelve receptions in his career, four have gone for touchdowns, including a leaping 29-yard grab against eastern Michigan. He's a gifted athlete for his size and has tremendous hands, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Navy utilize both those qualities in red zone situations. Tyree is also a very underrated stalk blocker, and has the size and technique necessary to frustrate opposing defensive backs in the run game. The key for Tyree is going to be staying healthy however, as he missed the opening portions of 2006 after failing to come back from surgery he had in the offseason. He had more surgery this past January, and sat out of the spring game in order to recover. He reminds me a lot of the recently graduated senior Jason Tomlinson and if he can stay healthy could put up similar numbers next season.

Greg Sudderth: I've talked about Greg a lot on this blog, and not just addressing the obvious fact that he can't tackle. Now that he's at wide receiver he'll hopefully save himself from some embarrassment, and flourish as a ball handler. He certainly has the athletic ability to do so, and is arguably the most highly recruited player coming out of high school on Navy's roster, passing up a host of ACC offers to play for the Midshipmen,. At 6'2, 207 he's got prototypical wide receiver size, and has enough speed to get behind defenders who get caught "peaking" in the backfield. He looked impressive in the spring game and had a good spring camp, and if he can show he's a consistent enough blocker then I think Coach Johnson will rely more on him during the season. Look for Greg to find his way onto the field in 2007, and possibly become one of Navy's surprise performers.

Curtis Sharp: A lot of people were excited about Sharp going into 2006, but the hype fizzled by year's end as he failed to catch an entire pass all season. He has tight end like size at 6-4, 239, and good athletic ability and decent hands. He's an intriguing prospect who has seen time in goal line and short yardage situations, but I don't see him making much of an impact this year due to the reliability of the players in front of him. Still, he'll have a chance to impress in fall camp, and could surprise in 2007.

Nick Henderson: Good looking sophomore who has ideal height (6'4). Showed some ability in the spring, and could be in line to start in 2008.

Troy Goss: Goss is still listed as a QB, but I'm projected him to move back to WR in fall camp and settle into the three deep. Was a capable blocker in mop-up duty last season.

Overall: There is a common perception on the national level that this unit is not very good. To that I'd say if you lined everyone here up in four and five wide sets then that would be the case, but that's not what Paul Johnson does. This unit is, generally speaking, very good at doing what needs to be done for the offense to execute effectively. As someone who has attended the Academy's football camp as a player (albeit a very bad and undersized one in a brief high school career) I can say with confidence that Coach Bohannon does an excellent job getting guys to buy into their roles in the offense. This year the unit returns a starter in Washington and a guy who has seen significant playing time in Barnes, as well as Sudderth who has stud like athletic ability in the open field. This is a much more athletic group than Navy has seen in the recent past, and despite the loss of a great player like Jason Tomlinson, I think this group is up a half notch or so in 2007.
Grade: 7

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