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TCU Football 2015: Receivers Preview

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TCU's offense will be bigger and better this year and that has a lot to do with the brilliant, experienced, and supersonic nature of the receiving corps.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There's plenty of things in regards to TCU football that get me excited. Defenses that, which despite personnel changes, will always find a way to fascinate me. The idea, and the security, of a great quarterback lighting up Fort Worth until at least two US Presidential elections from now. But when I looked at the receiving depth chart in the spring, it was unlike anything I've ever experienced since my the genesis of my TCU fandom in 2008.

The closest thing I can compare it to in 2015-terms was when I saw the first full trailer to The Force Awakens a couple months ago. You know the moving parts: JJ Abrams, who despite his flaws should make a damn good movie as the Amblin familiarity probably only suits Spielberg better at this point. A dash of the familiar; the Mark Hamill voice over, Harrison Ford, freshly off surviving yet another plane crash, telling his longtime PIC, Chewie, "we're home". A bright hope for the future in John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley; the latter of whom most know who were character really is, but intrigues us anyway.  And the superior reinforcement of talent in Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max Von Sydow.

The receiving depth chart gave me this umami feeling; it hit every sensation. I mean, how could it not? Five of TCU receivers (seven if you include Aaron Greene and Trevone Boykin) longest catch was for a touchdown. The TCU offense in 2014 was a circus. Expect it to be even more so this year, with the receivers being Boykin's brilliant supporting act. After all, this *is* this offense that tried to run a flea-flicker at their own 8-yd line up 20+ on Texas Tech; and who, a play later, had a 92-yd touchdown to Deante' Gray.

Wide Receiver (X), Deep Ball Playmakers: Kolby Listenbee, Emmanuel Porter, Corey McBride

Name

Yards/Receptions/Avg.

TDs/Long

Kolby Listenbee

753/41/18.4

4/54

Emmanuel Porter

154/12/12.8

1/38

Corey McBride

NA

NA

Playing on the opposite side, Kolby Listenbee is the fire to Josh Doctson's ice. Perhaps one of the most underrated players in all of college football, and literally the fastest, Listenbee has only gotten better since we first saw a glimpse of him against Michigan State nearly four years ago. The pseudo Hail Mary that Boykin and Listenbee loved so much last year, to great effect, still misfired at times despite Listenbee having his man beat by multiple steps. What no one really is thinking about, or at least talking about, is that this is only the second year of Meacham's design, and Cumbie's brilliance of working with quarterbacks. Not only should we expect the kinks of that kill shot to be worked out in 2015; but even more promising, expect it to be the signature play of the offense - the one the fans, the talking heads, and the casual fan all covet, anticipate, and eagerly wait for a like an unopened present.

Emmanuel Porter is the probably the best bet for the breakout star of 2015. Despite some freshman jitters, Porter showed complete capability and tremendous promise in becoming on TCU's most exciting receivers since joining the Big 12. He only caught 12 passes last year, but when he did, he was a dynamic smorgasbord of speed and physicality.

Then we get to Corey McBride as we round out TCU's most talented receiver spot in terms of depth. McBride, who redshirted in last year, and wisely so, was an ESPN 300 recruit--and the 49th ranked receiver in the country--and regarded as one of the best players to come from the state of Louisiana in the 2014 class. With that in mind, McBride being a youthful third stringer, should see more time than most third options as Story and Doctson are both seniors.

Wide Receiver (H), Speed Kills: Deante' Gray Desmon White

Name

Yards/Receptions/Avg.

TDs/Long

Deante' Gray

753/41/18.4

4/54 (TD)

Desmon White

154/12/12.8

1/38


What the slot lacks for in size, it more than well makes up for in speed. It's hard to believe that Deante' Gray is already a senior; this is the kid who began his TCU career, the Frogs' first game in the new Amon G. Carter, and their first game as a Big 12 member, with a punt return for a touchdown on the first offensive touch on the game. Given their ability to covertly navigating through the Big 12 defenses, both Gray and Desmon White are big touchdown threats; Gray caught eight touchdowns last year (only behind Doctson who caught 11) and one of Desmon White's 17 catches resulted in a 16-yd score against SMU. In that catch, White proved he's one of the most versatile and shiftiest players on this team. Gray also excels, not only in deception, but also in his ability to turn routine plays into big ones with his speed and versatility-the 91-yd touchdown catch against Texas Tech comes to mind.

In the spirit of The Amazing Yen or Pietro Maximoff, when we find White or Gray in the end zone next season, in addition to celebrating the score we'll also be flummoxed as to how they even got there in the first place.

Wide Receiver (Y), The Workhorses: Ty Slanina, Cameron Echols-Luper, Andre Petties-Wilson

Name

Yards/Receptions/Avg.

TDs/Long

Ty Slanina

383/32/12

2/57

Cameron Echols-Luper

72/9/8

NA/15

Andre Petties-Wilson

NA

NA

Despite growing up in different states, miles and miles apart, Ty Slanina and Cameron Echols-Luper are cut from the same cloth. If Listenbee and Doctson are fire and ice; Slanina and Echols-Luper are TCU's Bash Brothers, minus the steroids. They're never on the field on the same time, but the two of them, like any great artist, are dedicated to their craft. It's not to say that not every other player puts in the late hours and early morning in the gym, but you get the feeling a different passion burns in the "y" position; it borders on spiritual.

It remains to be seen, however, how much time Echols-Luper will get at receiver, or if he'll spend more time at defensive back, per off-season reports. Especially with CEL returning punts, we'll obviously not only see more specifically of Slanina in that position but could very well see a lot from Andre Petties-Wilson as well.

Wide Receiver (Z), The Endzone Threats: Josh Doctson and Ja'Juan Story

Name

Yards/Receptions/Avg.

TDs/Long

Josh Doctson

1018/65/15.6

11 /84 (TD)

Ja'Juan Story

17/145/8.5

1/16

This is pure receiver territory here. We all know what Josh Doctson can do; something we saw glimpses of in 2013, but was solidified in 2014. I've always been in Listenbee's corner, yet telling everyone "I told you so" is futile. However, I don't really think anyone was ever out on Doctson. He made the plays, and had the grit that no other receiver really had in 2013 in TCU's crippled offense.

I've been waiting for the Ja'Juan Story come-up ever since I read the reports of his spring back in 2013. He's likely one of the best all-around athletes on TCU's roster, and that includes track and field savants like Listenbee and Echols-Luper. Story is strong, and mean; and if he improve/improves his route running in the offseason, JaJuan could be the biggest surprise of 2015. With his size, strength, and speed, there's not really a ceiling on Story's potential, especially in the end zone. Thinking specifically of the Baylor game in 2013, and the Kansas State game last year; that version of Story is one that could make the Big 12 his punching bag. There's something interesting that I feel that burns deep within Story: he was successfully recruited by Aubrey Hill to play at Florida in Will Muschamp's first year. Hill, who joined Florida, and left Miami, shortly after Muschamp became head coach in December of 2010, was one of the first big gets of the short-lived Muschamp era. Shortly after, Hill was handed a two-year death penalty after the Miami scandal in 2011; the investigation that explored the various NCAA rules violations committed by Miami from 2002-2010, mainly under the hand of Miami booster, Nevin Shapiro. So the receivers coach who recruits Story gets the boot, and the defensive-centered Florida Gator team no longer does it for Story, and thus he moves to the offensive-driven Big 12. We all know what the offense was in 2013 for TCU, and how big of a turn it took in 2014. Story has the scheme, he has the skills, he has the chip; now it's just gotta come together.

Now we get to the best receiver in the Big 12. Josh Doctson, and his Waco adversary, Corey Coleman - along with a fine handful of others - could very well make this the year of the receiver in the Big 12. Somewhat paradoxically, this falls at the expense of quarterback transition for the league as a whole. And that's a big piece to TCU's winning puzzle: familiarity. Doctson, no doubt a big piece of that puzzle, had 100-ish fewer yards than Coleman; however this is due to the fact that the Frogs use more receivers than Baylor - and that's saying a helluva lot. Above all things, Doctson is simply a pure playmaker with his keen ability to get air; the 84-yd touchdown and the SportsCenter play against Minnesota being true harbingers on that.