Sammie Coates, Quan Bray
DUKE WILLIAMS, Ricardo Louis, Melvin Ray, Marcus Davis, Tony Stevens, Stanton Truitt
Newcomers (including redshirts from last season):
Myron Burton, Jr (RS), Jason Smith, Darius Slayton, Ryan Davis
Causes for Optimism:
I was tempted to let that stand as the only portion of this section, but that would be a great discredit to the other wide receivers on this team. Seriously, though, how many of you thought Duke would be coming back for another year? I'm stoked. I can't wait to see Jeremy Johnson throwing him the football.
After Duke, things aren't too shabby, either. Ricardo Louis is a threat going deep and a threat at the speed sweep. I'm not sure what role he'll be asked to take on the most, this season. I suspect it will hinge in part on if anyone else (ahem, Tony Stevens) steps up in the deep role.
Melvin Ray has been so consistent in his limited appearances, and we know JJ is comfortable with him. I suspect we'll see him get a lot more action this year. Marcus Davis has also been very consistent in limited action and looks to be a break out player. Tony Stevens is big and fast and hopefully fills the Sammie Coates role, and Stanton Truitt showed a very brief flash in his one play last year before being injured.
As for the newcomers, Burton redshirted last year, but had some great plays in the A-Day game. That doesn't always translate into anything, though. Slayton is supposed to be a burner, and Jason Smith is electric. I suspect Ryan Davis is on his way to a redshirt, but I'm not 100% sure. Slayton may also be destined for a redshirt, but somehow I think he finds his way onto the field. Especially if no one steps up in some other roles.
Causes for Concern
OK, it needs to be said... Can Duke keep his head on straight? I certainly hope so. I'm pulling hard for him. That's not only because I know an Auburn WR corps with Duke is much better than one without. I also just don't want to see someone with that much talent squander what he's got coming to him in the future. He's going to be a stud in the NFL, and I want everyone to be able to remember the stellar senior season he had rather than any discussion of a troubled time frame while he was in Auburn.
Aside from that, there's the worry of just who will step up to fill some of the other roles. We know Ricardo Louis is capable of doing multiple things in this offense and I look for him to have a big senior season. Ray is another one. Marcus Davis I'm sure we can count on. After that? It's all just hopes based on talent and scrimmages. I know coaches were up and down on Tony Stevens in the spring. There's a lot of talent on this team, but we just don't know for certain what the backups are capable of past the starters.
Jeremy Johnson has a monster year throwing the football for Auburn. Duke Williams will have a slip up or two throughout the season that makes us worry and he might even be relegated to a "bench" role once or twice, but he keeps focused on the prize at the end. There will be absolutely groan-worthy drops, but there will be spectacular catches. Overall, we'll be extremely happy with this crew and the quarterback who is throwing the ball to them.