The 2012 Louisville offense has potential to be one of the more explosive offenses the Cards have had in several years, but for them to reach that potential, it hinges on the wide receivers delivering. The talent of this unit is not in question. From top to bottom, this group is as deep and as talented as any group in recent memory. However, this group is still fairly unproven and will need to step it up to take the UofL offense to the next level.
The headliner of the group is hometown boy DeVante Parker. The 6-3 Parker, previously a star at Louisville Ballard high school, showed flashes of stardom during his freshman campaign. Parked hauled in 18 catches for 291 yards a team leading 6 touchdowns. However, he also struggled at times with physical play and disappeared for large stretches during games.
DeVante is the guy who should draw the main focus of opposing defenses. His size and athleticism give him the ability to make highlight reel plays, but he simply cannot be a guy who makes a couple plays a game. He needs to be a guy who has to be accounted for on every single play. The ability is there, now the production and performance must catch up.
Another receiver who will draw the attention of defensive coordinators is sophomore Eli Rogers. In 2011, Eli was one of Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite targets as he led the team with 41 receptions. The 5-10, 185-lb Rogers was perhaps Louisville’s most consistent producer at receiver and should be poised to build on his freshman season. Eli is not going to necessarily be a home-run hitter, but he is solid, dependable, and will challenge for the receptions lead in 2012.
Two guys who people should really look out for are Damian Copeland and Andrell Smith. The careers of these two have seemingly mirrored each other during their time at UofL. Both are extremely talented guys who have experienced injury problems which have hindered their development.
Copeland, a 6-1 red shirt junior from Bradenton, Florida, has reportedly had a great Spring and is poised to finally show everyone what he can do on the football field. Andrell Smith, a 6-4 senior, has been on the field a bit more than Copeland, but still has not been able to complete a full season. Smith is a big target and should get plenty of looks in the redzone.
Finally, the guy I am most excited to watch this season is redshirt freshman Charles Gaines. Gaines was a vastly underrated prospect as a recruit in the 2010 class and was moved to defensive back last season before a shoulder injury caused him to redshirt. Coming out of high school, more than one recruiting analyst called Gaines every bit as good as DeVante Parker. If that turns out to be true, then Louisville is sitting on a potential gold mine.
There are several other guys who can step right in at the receiver position and perform. Players such as the reliable Scott Radcliff, the speedy Jarrett Davis, and Clemson transfer Bryce McNeal can/will contribute at some point this season. The Louisville offense can be explosive this season and if they are, it will be because the wide receiving corps delivered.
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