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Villanova Football Preview 2014: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

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Poppy Livers needs help, but who will step up?

CAA Football

Slinging the ball all over the field hasn't been the focal point of the Villanova offense, but wide receivers coach Brian Flinn has overseen some pretty good wideouts during his time on the Main Line. Brandyn Harvey, Matt Szczur, Norman White and Joe Price have all been extremely productive in the Wildcats' blue and white.

Side note: If you're in to the finer points of football, Brian Flinn is a must follow on Twitter.

Poppy Livers, a senior co-captain, looks to be the latest in the productive line that Flinn has produced following a breakout junior season where he posted 53 receptions for 580 yards and 3 touchdowns.The Wildcats will need to figure out how to replace the production of Joe Price, who when healthy, was the best downfield threat the Wildcats possessed. Complicating matters more is the dismissal of Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who when on the field was the biggest playmaker on the roster.

Projected Depth Chart

Split End (X)

Slot Receiver (Y)

Flanker (Z)

Tight End

Clay Horne
SR
6'6" | 226 lbs.
Poppy Livers
SR
5'7" | 168 lbs.
Kevin Gulyas
JR
5'11" | 190 lbs.
Ernest Pettway
SR
6'4" | 251 lbs.
Lincoln Collins
(RS) FR
6'3" | 188 lbs.
Aaron Wells
JR
5'8" | 191 lbs.
Mike Burke
JR
6'2" | 210 lbs.
Morgan Craig
SR
6'2" | 257 lbs.

Split End (X)

The split end, or X position, in the Villanova offense typically lines up on the opposite site of the tight end on the line of scrimmage. Because of this, you'll typically see one of the bigger, faster wideouts on the roster who has the ability to beat press coverage and get down the field. Clay Horne fits the bill here, and is coming off a nice season in which he pulled in 14 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown in mostly a backup role to Joe Price. Horne's size is obviously his biggest asset, and makes him a prime red zone target to boot.

Lincoln Collins was a heralded recruit when he showed up on campus, and spent last season redshirting. Most have him earmarked as the next star wide receiver at Villanova. After a year on the sidelines, he looks ready to contribute. Keep an eye on Anthony DeCamillo (6'3", 208) who boasts an excellent set of hands.

Slot Receiver (Y)

The good news is that Poppy Livers returns to the fold here and is one of the best slot receivers in the conference, and a favorite target for John Robertson. The bad news is that Jamal Abdur-Rahman, a threat in both the passing and running game, has been dismissed.

Aaron Wells is experienced if nothing else, and is one of the fastest players on the roster. Historically he's been a bigger threat to run from the slot than to catch a pass, but we could see more of him this season. Keep an eye on freshman Taurus Phillips as an impact performer as well.

Flanker (Z)

The flanker, or Z, typically lines up off the line of scrimmage, thus making the tight end eligible to receive the ball. This also allows this position to move in motion before the snap. In the 'Nova offense, this position was occupied last season frequently by Kevin Gulyas, who came on late in the season and finished with 18 catches for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gulyas is a strong route-runner who isn't afraid to get in to the tough areas to make the catch.

Mike Burke should also see playing time at this position. Burke is an exceptional blocker but also proved himself through the aerial attack recording 14 catches for 166 yards last season. Alex Padovani should be a future contributor here, but it may be too early in his career to expect an immediate impact.

Tight End

Historically more of a blocking position in the 'Nova offense, Earnest Pettway has changed that notion with his athleticism and ability to get down the field and make plays. He notched 13 catches for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns last season, and should be a focal point in the passing attack once again if the offensive line can hold it's own without his help.

Morgan Craig is more of a roadgrader at the position, and handles some long snapping duties as well. The wildcard in the mix is Ryan Morris, who transferred in from Purdue this offseason and is immediately eligible for action. Morris (6'5", 248) could be a big target down the field or similarly help out in blocking situations. It's too early to tell how much of an impact he could have, but as the season wears on I'd look for him to find the field more often.