Last year, the UMass Minutemen did not have what some may consider a productive year. Winning just one game in a tough MAC division, there was still plenty of talent on the team. As a whole, things look much better this year at nearly every position so let’s take a look at who will be playing wide receiver for the Minutemen this year.
As a whole, the Minutemen are loaded with depth at wide receiver. Arguably the best player on the team is a wide receiver, plus coach Mark Whipple brought in some transfers. The Minutemen did not lose their number one receiver which is always a plus because many times players only start their senior year and put up mediocre numbers at best.
There is a reason why Tajae Sharpe wears number one — he is by far the best player in the program. Without at doubt this will be the biggest year of his career to date. After catching 61 balls for 680 yards as a sophomore, his junior year should be even bigger. This year with an even better quarterback, expect him to creep up towards 1000 receiving yards while catching eight touchdowns. On a weak team, Sharpe is a bright point and gives the Minutemen hope this year.
A redshirt junior in a good position for a breakout year, the timing could not be better for Elgin Long. Catching 14 passes for 179 yards last year, there is no reason why he could not double that this year as the number two receiver in a spread offense. This is especially true because Sharpe will be target more than anyone by far.
The other two men who should also see a good deal of playing time include a fifth year senior who transferred to UMass and a junior college transfer. Alex Kenney and Jalen Williams both will provide some nice depth for the Minutemen and will definitely be playing quite a bit this year. Kenney who was also a college sprinter at Penn State had his best year in 2012 as a junior when he caught 17 passes for 172 yards. Williams who went to Dean College caught 25 balls for 358 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both players are nice additions to the team and add some depth as far as upper class men go.
Overall, the Minutemen look set at wide receiver. These men will be targeted early and often in the spread offense especially Sharpe. They relied upon him last year and he did a great job and therefore this year should be no different. Of course Long has experience in the program and will see plenty of time as well. Right now, the transfers are X factors who could really help out the team if they meet their full potentials. Kenney would be a great guy to run some screen passes given his speed and Williams could help out catching some short balls in an empty set. The team has plenty of different receivers all with different skill sets so it will be interesting to see how they use all of them this year.