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Position breakdown: Auburn looks for go-to receiver

July 30, 2013


Quan Bray returns as Auburn's leading receiver for 2013 (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg     

AUBURN, Ala. -- J.D. McKissic was a redshirt freshman when Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee determined he could be their go-to receiver. 

Good choice. McKissic went from zero career catches to 103 receptions at Arkansas State last season, and that brings Malzahn, now the head coach at Auburn, and Lashlee, his offensive coordinator, to this question:

Who's next? 

Auburn will open fall camp Friday with plenty of stats available to the most able. 

The Tigers are looking for a replacement for steady Emory Blake, who led the team in receptions for two straight years, including 50 catches last season. The leading wide or slot receiver returning is>Quan Bray, who had 14 catches. 

"It may be a deal where there's a no-doubt go-to guy," Lashlee says, "but you want more than one guy making plays." 

Malzahn's offense has a reputation of taking a freshman, or the overlooked returnee, and made him a standout receiver. Remember Darvin Adams at Auburn? He went from three catches in 2008 without Malzahn to 60 catches with him in 2009. 

Here are the wide receiver/slot receiver candidates (not a senior among them): 

Quan Bray (5-10, 186, Jr.) Returned punts, and even threw a touchdown pass, to go along with his 14 catches last season. Has started three games. 

Trovon Reed (6-0, 190, Jr.) A long-ago Wildcat quarterback and full-time receiver for Malzahn, the fourth-year junior is the second-leading returning wide or slot receiver with nine catches. He had 21 catches the year before. Lashlee says he'll count on his speed. 

Sammie Coates (6-2, 201, So.) An intriguing target because of his height, Coates had six catches last season. Was redshirted after suffering an injury before the 2011 season. 

Ricardo Louis (6-2, 215 So.) Had three catches in his rookie season. Rushed for more yards (765) than receiving (412) as a high school senior. 

Jaylon Denson (6-3, 219 Jr.) One catch and one start last season after playing 13 games in 2011,  primarily on special teams. 

Melvin Ray (6-3, 213, So.) Got back into the football swing of things last season after playing minor league baseball for three years. Played primarily on special teams last year. Originally signed a football scholarship with Alabama, but opted for pro baseball instead.

Tony Stevens (6-4, 190, Fr.) "Big-body type," says receivers coach Dameyune Craig. "He's not afraid to go over the middle. He's also a physical kid that's not afraid to block."  He had 29 catches for 516 yards and seven TDs last year in high school.

Dominic Walker (6-1, 211, Fr.) "He's a physical kid. He can break tackles. He can make you miss," Craig said. Walker had 36 catches for 368 yards and seven touchdowns as a high school senior. 

Marcus Davis (5-9, 176, Fr.) A high school quarterback, Auburn likes him as a slot receiver. "A lot of speed, a lot of quickness," Craig said. Davis passed for 1,019 yards and rushed for 846 yards as a high school senior.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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