Wednesday, January 7, 2009

KO, going pro

So we're down a wide receiver. More in a bit, after I make excuses about why I'm not going to do much about the Hunter Steward commit. Steward, obviously, is going to go to Fork Union for a year - the story behind that is that the coaches want him to go for "physical development." Physical development? The kid's six foot seven! OK, fine, whatever, he'll go to FUMA for a year which is essentially a grayshirt year, pack some muscle onto that scrawny 300-pound frame of his, and come back in 2010 with a vengeance. The upshot for your humble blogger is that I'm not gonna bother doing a recruit profile thingy until after the rest of the '09 class is done and almost certainly not til after Signing Day, and I'm not gonna add him to the committed section of the recruiting board. For all intents and purposes he is the first '10 recruit, rather than the 23rd '09 one. I guess that means the '10 class is a little behind the '09 one, because Alex Owah committed last December.

OK, so Kevin Ogletree is going to the draft and that sucks. Last year Branden Albert left early, and you kind of had to shrug your shoulders because he went 15th overall. I admit to being surprised at Ogletree's decision, though. I'm not sure he's any higher than a fourth round pick right now, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what the scouts say. There are quite a few receivers who'll likely be drafted ahead of him, including Hakeem Nicks, who dazzled on the big stage of a bowl game, and Rutgers' Kenny Britt, who was fifth in the nation in receiving yards and is 6'4". Both also declared early. The scouts also put guys like Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin near the top - neither of whom have declared yet, but could.

Had he stayed, Ogletree could have conceivably led the ACC in all receiving categories. Nicks and Clemson's Aaron Kelly are departing - these were the only two ahead of 'Tree in receiving yards. Also leaving are Wake's D.J. Boldin, Duke's Eron Riley, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey....there are going to be a lot of new faces at the top of the receiving stats list next year. Ogletree would certainly have been a preseason all-conference pick, and probably a postseason one too. The only question is, would it have helped his standing in the draft? I dunno. Not really qualified to answer that. But with so many good receivers leaving the ACC, this might not be the year to hop the train. Academically Ogletree would have gained nothing - by virtue of that year sitting out with a knee injury, he's already graduated.

What it means for us is, no senior wide receivers on next year's team, and as it stands now (without counting the '09 recruiting class, that is) more walk-ons than scholarship players. Dontrelle Inman will be our most experienced wide receiver. I was once told that the receivers were second only to the quarterbacks when it came to being harangued and ridden on by the coaching staff about knowing the minute little details of every play, so it'd have been nice to have that senior leadership.

But there's plenty of talent ready to step up, some of which (Inman, Staton Jobe) had decent seasons in 2007 but disappeared behind Ogletree's and Maurice Covington's fine seasons. Jared Green and Kris Burd will certainly be in the mix. A true freshman like Tim Smith could step into the game as well, and I'm looking forward to the size and style of play that Kevin Royal brings to the table. So Ogletree isn't leaving behind a vacuum; clearly, Gregg Brandon will have a lot to work with. But there won't be any easing of players into a top role; one of these guys is going to have to step out on the field in September and straight into a spotlight that they're unfamiliar with. It'll be a very interesting position battle.

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