This continues our series of semi-informed WSU football depth chart speculation in which we take a stab at what each position will look like when the Cougars kick off against Idaho State on Sept. 3.
You'll note, at times, that it will look a little different than the post-spring practice depth chart -- we're going to incorporate incoming players and also try to guess what's going to play out in August during training camp. Previous: QBs, DBs, RBs, LBs, DL.
With the exception of quarterback, a familiar refrain has run through each of these depth chart posts: Lots of youth, lots of potential ... and lots of question marks. The term "unknown quantity" describes the vast majority of the roster.
But not the wide receivers. We know exactly what we've got. And what we've got is good.
Wilson exploded onto the Pac-10 scene last year as a lithe true freshman, receiving over 100 yards in five of his first eight games. He would end up over 1,000 yards for the season, the first Cougar to do that since Brandon Gibson did it as a junior in 2007. Did I mention he was a true freshman? Playing on an offense that was one of the worst in history the year before he arrived?
Karstetter is perhaps the most underappreciated player in the conference. It seems like just yesterday he was a true freshman like Wilson, hauling in a bomb from Kevin Lopina in the 2008 Apple Cup to set up the game-tying field goal. Now he's a senior and he's developed into one of the most physical possession receivers around. He expertly uses his 6-foot-4, 208-pound body to shield defenders, but like so many other big white pass catchers, he's a lot more athletic than most people realize. He's got a burst off the line, and when Tuel throws it up in the end zone, only one guy is coming down with it.
Of course, it's not just those two -- while Daniel Blackledge and Jeffrey Solomon are gone, redshirt freshmen Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff are ready to step in. Gino Simone could be ready to truly contribute if his health problems are behind him, and Isiah Barton returns for his senior season.
It's been a long time since WSU has had a collection of weapons like this. They might not be the Fab Five yet, but they're as close as we've come since then.
|X (Split End)||F (Slot)||Z (Flanker)|
|Marquess Wilson, So.||Isiah Barton, Sr.||Jared Karstetter, Sr.|
|Bobby Ratliff, Fr.*||Gino Simone, Jr.||Kristoff Williams, Fr.*|
|Henry Eaddy, Fr.||Isiah Myers, Fr.|
Level of certainty: Medium-high. Wilson and Karstetter are obviously locked in, but there could be some movement in the slot, where it would not be hard to see Simone end up in the starting lineup. However, it's largely semantics when we label receivers as "starters" outside of the top two -- Wilson and Karstetter will have the most snaps of anyone in the unit, but the other four of the top six will probably be close together in terms of field time depending on game plans and personnel packages. Barring injury, the top six listed here should be the top six
Risk of volatility: Medium-Low. Nobody's moving past Wilson and Karstetter. But with the injury problems Williams and Simone had last year and Barton's inconsistency, there's opportunity there for others to force themselves onto the radar. One guy not on the depth chart here is Bennett Bontemps, a sophomore walk-on who made a name for himself last year on special teams, but also showed a little at receiver at the end of the year. He'd be one to keep an eye on.
Biggest question: Can Wilson duplicate his superlative performance? Marquess Wilson was amazing last year. But it shouldn't go unnoticed that he only averaged 52.5 yards per game over the final four contests; beyond that, he started dropping passes he was catching earlier in the year. It all pointed to one fairly obvious conclusion: The true freshman -- 6-foot-3 but just 173 pounds -- was getting worn down as teams paid more and more attention to him. Will he be able to overcome that this year?
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