The Return to Wide Receiver U

Defensive Tackle U.  – Georgia, LSU, Miami, Tennessee
Linebacker U. – Miami, Georgia, UCLA, Penn State, FSU, Tennessee
Running Back U. – Miami, Auburn, Tennessee, Texas

Whatever Position U. is a common moniker for University’s football teams to hold whenever that University turns out a pretty good number of highly touted prospects of a single position during a short period of time. No school holds on to the title for very long as the competition is thick and there are several coaches for each position that produce arguably the best at that position year in and year out.

Tennessee is in the top 5 for the common monikers in several positions according to recent polls done by scout.com and rivals.com. Linebackers such as Chuck Smith, Al Wilson, and Leonard Little; Defensive Tackles like Albert Haynesworth, John Henderson, and Dan Williams, and Running Backs like Travis Henry, Jamal Lewis, and Travis Stephens allow Tennessee to have a sense of pride for the talent they have produced over the years.

However the best case that you can make for Tennessee is the moniker Wide Receiver U. Names like Peerless Price, Dante Stallworth, Kelley Washington, Carl Pickens, Marcus Nash, Joey Kent, and Robert Meachem all have put up big numbers while at the University of Tennessee. Tennessee may not have a Randy Moss or Jerry Rice type player to lay claim to but they have a huge selection of players who have put up very solid numbers over the years. These players have donned the orange and white, ran through the T, and given their all for Tennessee. They have earned their place in history.

The Vols have a right to be proud over the rich receiving corp history. They have six receivers who have over 2000 yards on the college careers.

  1. Joey Kent – 183 catches, 2,814 yards, 25 Touchdowns, 15.4 yards/catch
  2. Marcus Nash – 177 catches, 2,447 yards, 20 Touchdowns, 13.8 yards/catch
  3. Peerless Price – 147 catches, 2,298 yards, 19 Touchdowns, 15.6 yards/catch
  4. Robert Meachem – 125 catches, 2,140 yards, 17 Touchdowns, 17.1 yards/catch
  5. Cedrick Wilson – 159 catches, 2,137 yards, 24 Touchdowns, 13.4 yards/catch
  6. Tim McGhee – 123 catches, 2,042 yards, 15 Touchdowns, 16.6 yards/catch

To go along with these outstanding collegiate career records the Vols have 5 players who have obtained over 1,000 yards in a single season.

  1. Robert Meachem – 2006: 71 catches, 1,298 yards
  2. Marcus Nash – 1997: 76 catches, 1,170 yards
  3. Joey Kent – 1996: 68 catches, 1,080 yards
  4. Joey Kent – 1995: 69 catches, 1,055 yards
  5. Kelley Washington – 2001: 64 catches, 1,010 yards
  6. Lucas Taylor – 2007: 73 catches, 1,000 yards

Five Vols have 200 yards or more in a single contest.

  1. Kelley Washington – 2001 LSU 256 yards
  2. Johnny Mills – 1967 Kentucky 225 yards
  3. Willie Gault – 1981 Vandy 217 yards
  4. Carl Pickens – 1990 Kentucky 201 yards
  5. Stanley Morgan – 1976 TCU 201 yards

And one last impressive stat is that two Vols have over 10 100 yards games in their careers as Vols.

  1. Joey Kent had 15 100 yard games including a UT record 7 straight
  2. Marcus Nash had 11 100 yard games

Yes the Vols indeed have a proud history of airing out the ball and have  a storied wide receiver corp that they can be proud of. With this years returning talent at the Wide Receiver position as well as the new recruits that coach Dooley brought in this year, the Vols hope to regain momentum in the battle for the title Wide Receiver U. This could be the start of something beautiful. This is what they have to work with…

Returning Players

The Vols offense will be led this year by a dynamic duo of Midwest receiving talent. Hailing from Tatum, TX and Oklahoma City respectfully Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones will help to break in a new quarterback, in either Matt Simms or Tyler Bray, while being tasked to giving their opponents too much to handle and getting open down field as much as possible.

Denarius and Gerald both tend to have nagging injury problems but if they can overcome them and stay healthy throughout the summer workouts and fall camp the Vols could be set up to surprise a couple of teams this fall.

Denarius Moore is a talented Deep Threat receiver. Images of the 2008 season with Nick Stephens fill my head when I think of some of Moore’s more memorable plays. Who can forget the out-of-bounds lift of the foot as the ball moves over the pylon touchdown from last season though.

Denarius is set to break out this season and earn his spot in the NFL. My slogan this year for our new quarterbacks is two parts and part A is throw the ball to Denarius more.

  • Career: 65 catches, 1,023 yards, 15.7 yards/catch and 9 Touchdowns
  • Career Highs: 7 Catches vs Memphis 2009, 2 Touchdowns vs Memphis 2009, and 86 yards vs Wisconsin 2007
  • 40 yard dash: 4.4
  • Rivals: ****, 34th athlete, 40th best in Texas
  • Scouts: ****, 53rd Wide Receiver

Gerald Jones is a do all receiver. He is a play-maker that can line up in slot or out wide. He can do the option or be a wild cat quarterback even. Opposing teams have to guard this talented senior or they will pay the price which more than likely will be 7 points on the board. Part B of my slogan is don’t forget about Jones either. Jones too is ready for a break out year and his Career highs seem to suggest he is getting better.

  • Career: 87 catches, 1,114 yards, 12.8 yards/catch and 9 Touchdowns
  • Career Highs: 7 Catches vs Alabama, Auburn 2009, 113 yards vs Kentucky 2009, 2 Touchdowns vs UGA 2009, UAB 2008
  • 40 yard dash: 4.47
  • Rivals: ****, 5th athlete, 3rd in Oklahoma, 87th nationally
  • Scouts: ****, 11th receiver

After these two talented seniors is a red shirt junior who fell behind in the depth chart and is yet to find his way out. Ranked the fifteenth best player in the state of Tennessee in 2007 Todd Campbell came in with high hopes of playing for the instate team. But coming in behind Meachem, Lucas Taylor, Jason Swain, as well as the two seniors in this years class the coaches thought he would benefit from a red shirt year. He never earned his way back though except for the JV game vs Hargrave. With a new staff this year this could be the year that Todd actually makes a move.

  • Rivals: ***
  • Scout ***, 72nd WR

Assisting these talented to seniors and the untapped junior are a pair of rising sophomores that everyone should be excited about. They were apart of Coach Kiffin’s signing class that ranked in the top 10 in the nation and they stayed out of trouble unlike their counterpart NuKeese Richardson. Marsalis Teague and Richardson were both highly touted and headed towards Gator Country before Kiffin swayed them to Rocky Top during several National Signing Day surprises for the Vols.

Now Teague remains alone from the duo. He did a good job living up the hype of his recruitment for a freshman wide receiver, finishing with 13 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns in his inaugural season as a Vol, and everyone should be excited as he continues his development this season. His impressive showing to open the season last year (8 Catches for 86 yards and 1 Touchdown) had Vol fans longing for more during the season but coming behind Jones and Moore as well as facing tougher competition, there were only so many passes to go around.

Teague also has a history of playing in the secondary so if needed he could transition nicely over into the secondary.

  • Career: 13 catches, 147 yards, 2 Touchdowns, 1 Rush, 6 yards
  • Career Highs: 6 catches vs Western Kentucky, 86 yards vs Western Kentucky, 1 Touchdown vs Georgia and Western Kentucky
  • 40 yard dash: 4.5
  • Rivals: ****, 28th athlete, 4th in Tennessee
  • Scout: ****, # 18 cornerback

Joining Teague on the field is Zach Rogers, brother of former Vol Austin Rogers, from Nashville, TN. Zach had a part in helping convince Teague to switch to the Vols through a friendship formed at camp. Rogers took a lot of time to learn last season but early indications seem as if it was time well spent as coaches continued to point out his work ethic and ability during spring practice.

  • Career: 3 catches for 19 yards, 1 rush for 15 yards
  • 40 yard dash: 4.4
  • Rivals: ***, 9th in Tennessee, 54th wide receiver
  • Scout: ***, 56th wide receiver

These two sophomores along with a couple of walk on players, who also have a new shot at earning playing time under a head coach who started out as a walk on wide receiver, make up the returning wide receiver corp for this fall.

The Signees

Joining the five returning scholarship players and the two walk on players this fall will be what is arguably the nation’s top recruiting class. Derek Dooley got lucky that two receivers came to school early and were forced to stay. Those two are glad they did now as both like the coaching staff assembled. Dooley lost talented wide out Markeith Ambles to Kiffin at USC but replaced him with an even higher rated prospect from Georgia and an equally talented player from Virgina.

Miami, FL speedster Ted Meline wowed coaches during bowl practice and spring practice this off-season. His speed will be a valued asset not only in receiving but in special teams as well.

  • 6’2″ 171 lbs.
  • 40 yard dash: 4.4
  • Rivals: ****, 40th in Florida, 41st Wide Receiver
  • Scout: ***, 69th wide receiver

Joining Meline back in December was talented recruit Matt Milton. Milton will play this fall and projects to be a tough match up for anyone with his height and speed. Later on after he adds some weight Milton could slide inside to tight end if the need was to arise.

  • 6’6″ 202 lbs. from Mascoutah, IL
  • 40 yard dash: 4.57
  • Rivals: ****, 18th Wide Receiver, 3rd in Illinois, 135th in nation
  • Scout: ****, 17th Wide Receiver

These two prospects will greatly benefit from being on campus during the extra practice and workout sessions and should quickly be able help assist the Vols this season. Joining these two this summer will be two heavily recruited and highly touted recruits. Stolen from Georgia and LSU they too should be able to assist immediately.

One of those two is a recruit who was praised for his route running abilities coming out of high school, Justin Hunter of Virginia Beach, VA. Once considered a LSU lock the Vols swayed him in the final two weeks with the help of former coach Willie Mac Garza during his short Tenure on staff under Dooley. This speedy runner should battle his way onto the field in some role this fall.

  • 6’4″ 172 lbs.
  • 40 yard dash: 4.4
  • Rivals: ****, 8th wide receiver, 3rd in Virginia, 75th in Nation
  • Scout: ****, 11th wide receiver

Joining Hunter this summer will be Da’Rick Rogers. This incredibly talented recruit could be fantastic when it’s all said and done Thought to be the crowning Jewel on a top 15 recruiting class for Georgia, the Vols snuck in and stole him just before National signing day. He should battle even the seniors for playing time and could earn starting time if everyone doesn’t work hard this fall.

  • 6’3″ 206 lbs from Calhoun, GA
  • 40 yard dash: 4.4
  • Rivals: *****, 2nd wide receiver, 1st in Georgia, 9th in Nation
  • Scout: *****, 4th wide receiver

This talented group of freshman along with their older counter parts would cause any coach to relax and breathe easier. These players need to be utilized to the best of their ability this fall and the Vols could pull of some special moments if they do. That task will fall on Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney along with Wide Receivers coach Charlie Baggett.

Coach

Coach Charlie Baggett replaces Frank Wilson, and for a short time Kippy Brown, as the Vols receivers coach. He will be a true asset on this staff and his resume will help in recruiting the best of the best to Tennessee. Baggett is definitely a huge upgrade over Frank Wilson.  Kippy replaced Wilson when he left for LSU and was here for a little over a month. He got us ready for bowl practice and helped us transition between coaches. He coached here twice before and helped build Tennessee as Wide Receiver U in the 90’s. His knowledge of Tennessee and his talent level could have been utilized and he was given a chance to stay but decided to go back to the NFL at Seattle. He wasn’t given a real interview for the head coaching position and I hold no ill will towards Mr. Brown. He will always be a Vol and I appreciate everything he has done for the program.

Coach Baggett is a Vol now though and I for one could not be happier. He has coached 9 1,000 yard receivers in the NFL, as well as several during his college tenure. He has a combined 33 years of coaching experience including 11 in the NFL. He has coached such talent as Randy Moss, Chris Carter, Chris Chambers, Andre Rison, Mark Ingram, Plaxico Burress, Lorenzo White, Muhsin Muhammed, Daryl Turner, Derrick Mason, and Courtney Hawkins. Moss reeled in 376 passes  for 5,649 yards and 49 touchdowns during the four years he was under Coach Baggett and all three of those stats were in the top 3 in the NFL.

A huge number of All-Americans, Pro-Bowlers, and Hall of Famers have had the privileged to call him Coach and I hope that he stays here a long time and develops the best talent yet that he has ever coached.

1977-1980: Bowling Green
1981-1982: Minnesota
1983-1992: Michigan State
1993-1994: Tennessee Oilers
1995-1998: Michigan State
1999: Green Bay Packers
2000-2004: Minnesota Vikings
2005-2006: Miami Dolphins
2007-2008: Washington
2009: St Louis Rams

And just for comparison sakes Frank Wilson has 13 years worth of coaching, 8 of which were in high school. He knows Mississippi and Louisiana like the back of his hand though and is a very talented recruiter. He will be a tough battle for us down in the Bayou for recruiting. Kippy has 26 years worth of coaching 13  each on both levels. He is an excellent coach and I wish him well at Seattle.

Coming Soon: Running Backs

Youtube Video thanks to : SLICKRICKDOG (Marcus Nash Video), cfbfanatic (Peerless Price), utvol26 (Joey Kent), bamatunz (Denarius Moore), eaglessoca (Ted Meline), Redshirtscouting (Da’Rick Rogers, and Matt Milton), and knoxnews (Baggett on Milton and Meline)

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About Steven Harris

Steven Harris is a fifth year senior at the University of Tennessee. Majoring in sports journalism, this blog provides an outlet for Harris to share his thoughts on the state of the University of Tennessee's athletic department''s Volunteer teams. View all posts by Steven Harris

2 responses to “The Return to Wide Receiver U

  • Ashley

    I LOVE this site!! Thanks for making it, it’s beautiful and full of so much great information. But I think Montario Hardesty needs to be on there too! And of course, none other than, ERIC BERRY! 😀 Woot woot! ;] Thanks again and GO VOLS!!!

  • Lamar brown

    U like talented receivers? Do some research on the 92 incoming class.

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