If there is one thing we know for sure, after watching WSU over the last few years, it's depth is crucial in college football. Depth remains an issue at nearly every position on the current WSU roster, but no position needs more depth than wide receiver.
The Cougars use a lot of wide receivers and last year showed that depth, at times, was a very significant issue. Losing Marquess Wilson and Rickey Galvin during the season didn't help, but WSU could still stand to add more depth even with the expected return of Galvin. The current roster looks a little thin at receiver, but will the group get a boost from the upcoming recruiting class?
A complete roster breakdown for 2013 can be found here.
Dominique Williams (RSSO)
After a slow start to the season, Williams came on strong after the departure of Wilson and showed a lot of promise. He capped the season with an eight-catch, 143-yard receiving day against Washington. Williams may have the highest ceiling of any player currently on the roster, but is still very inexperienced. His ability to produce at a high level throughout a full season could be a key to the Cougars 2013 season.
Gabe Marks (SO)
After playing lights out early in the season, Marks faded down the stretch. He moved from an outside receiver to inside before shifting back outside. A year in the weight room should benefit him tremendously in 2013. He may not play all season at the level he began 2012, but WSU will need more from Marks than they got late in the year.
Isiah Myers (JR)
Like Marks, Myers had his ups and downs in 2012. There were times where he proved to be a reliable No. 3 if not No. 2 option and other times where he was nearly invisible. It will be interesting to see how the outside receivers shake out with Williams, Marks and Myers, but regardless of who starts Myers is still likely to be a major part of the 2013 group.
Bobby Ratliff (RSJR)
I expected big things out of Ratliff in 2012 and despite the occasional big game -- hello UCLA -- he was largely and afterthought. With Gino Simone graduating, Ratliff should be a factor in one of the inside receiver slots. Ratliff struggled with drops last season after showing very good hands in 2011. He'll need to catch the ball more consistently if he is going to grow into a major contributor.
Brett Bartolone (SO)
Bartolone played a lot as a freshman, probably more than anyone expected. While he didn't have any huge games, he was one of the more reliable targets all season. Judging by how much he played last season, Bartolone is likely to either start or play a significant number of snaps this season.
Rickey Galvin (RSJR)
Galvin made the move to inside receiver last season before suffering wrist injury which cost him the rest of the season. If he's healthy, he's likely to be in the running to start at the "H" inside receiver position. Since he only played a few games at receiver before going down with injury, Galvin's ability to transition to wide receiver is still largely an unknown.
Kristoff Williams (RSJR)
We've heard for years that Williams is full of potential, but we're yet to see it very often during games. He played more last season than he did as a freshman, but still didn't have much of a role and once again battled injuries. If he's healthy, he should be in the mix at outside receiver, but that is not a small if.
Henry Eaddy (RSSO)
After seeing time as a freshman, Eaddy didn't play last season. He was one of the late arrivals to fall camp, only joining the team once the rosters expanded. As a small, shifty wide receiver, Eaddy would seemingly fit at the "H" wide receiver spot, but we'll have to see where he stands come spring football.
Max Hersey (RSSO)
Hersey played on special teams, but did not see the field as a wide receiver. Hersey was recruited to WSU as a tight end and is now attempting to make the switch to wide receiver in the new system. How he fits in going forward remains to be seen.
Mansel Simmons (RSSO)
See Hersey, Max
Bennett Bontemps (SR)
Bontemps is the elder statesman of the wide receiver group. He saw some time last season, although less than he did as a junior. With more talent coming in, he will likely find himself in a battle for depth chart positioning during fall camp.
With 10 scholarship wide receivers currently on the roster, WSU didn't necessarily need to bring in a huge class of wide receivers. What they did bring in is an interesting mix of potential inside and outside receivers. With so many questions among the current depth chart, all four players coming in could have a chance to break into the lineup.
Robert Lewis (3-star)
Lewis was originally a member of the 2012 recruiting class but ended up grayshirting. He was an absolute playmaker in high school and is an ideal fit as an inside receiver. Lewis was small coming out of high school -- 5-10, 160 pounds -- so where his weight stands now could be a major factor in his role this season. Looking at the depth at inside receiver and the current lack of established players, I would expect Lewis to play next season and possibly factor into the return game as well.
River Cracraft (3-star)
When Cracraft committed, Kyle and I thought he would be an excellent fit on the outside. As it turns out, Leach and Co. are said to like him better on the inside so I guess we'll have to see where he ends up come fall camp. Fundamentally, Cracraft is about as solid as it gets for a high school receiver. He runs good routes, has good hands and is an excellent blocker.
Kyle's take: I love River Cracraft, plain and simple. Very high football IQ, and he understands the little things that help a team succeed. Not a speed demon, but he is deceptively fast. He has great hands, runs fantastic routes, and will probably be the best blocking WR on the team the minute he steps on campus. Like Brett Bartolone, he'll be a Mike Leach favorite for four years. I'd be surprised if he redshirted.
Vince Mayle (3-star)
Mayle is the lone junior college commit of the incoming players. He's a big receiver at 6'3, 220 pounds and should be an immediate factor in the outside receiver competition. Watching his junior college highlights, Mayle is going to bring a physical presence to the receiver group. Personally, he reminds me of Brandon Gibson, although I'm not sure he ever reaches the level Gibson did as a junior. Either way, he should be a factor this season.
Kyle's take: Vince Mayle is going to be the main reason people don't really miss Marquess Wilson. He's going to jump in and play right away, and he's a really, really big kid. At 6-3, 220, he's physically imposing. Not overly fast, but still has speed, Mayle uses his body to shield the defender much like a Power Forward does in basketball. I have a feeling he'll be getting a ton of balls thrown his way in the redzone. Like Cracraft, I'd be very surprised if he redshirted.
Charleston White (2-star)
With a number of players on the depth chart and a solid class coming in, it made sense to take a flier on a player with a high ceiling. White appears to be that player. White has speed to burn which is an asset not a lot of other receivers on the current roster to say. I would be shocked if he played this season, but the hope is he will continue to develop and play a major role down the road.
Kyle's take: Charleston White is an interesting player. He picked up a ton of steam in the weeks leading up to his visit, but before that, was relatively unknown. He's a burner, and will probably be one of the fastest guys on the team this fall. Really hard player to tackle in space. I think he has a bright future in a few years. Maybe not an impact player until he's an upper classman, but I think he can be a valuable player as an inside receiver in a few years. He's a likely redshirt, though, as you'd like to see him gain a bit of weight. He's currently listed at 170 pounds, so he should be eating a lot of Sellas.
The four incoming players combined with the current roster would give WSU 14 scholarship wide receivers next season. Mike Leach loves to have a lot of wide receivers, but even he is likely satisfied with 14. Unless highly-rated player -- like Sebastian LaRue -- decides to commit at the last second, WSU is likely finished at wide receiver for this class.
There won't be a shortage of bodies, but the question is, Can any of them play? The good news is the majority of the players on the current roster have very high ceilings. There may be more potential in this group top to bottom than any WSU receiving group since the days of Gibson, Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus. The bad news is none of the players have come close to reaching their potential leaving for the possibility of a season full of ups and downs.
Will big plays be made? Absolutely. But there will also be a number of drops or other mistakes that are likely to hurt the Cougars. My biggest worry about the group in 2013 is the lack of experience. Bartolone, a sophomore, has the most starting experience of the group. That is a bit of a scary proposition as WSU will need nearly every receiver to step into a larger role this season.
With so many unknowns it's hard to say what the key to next season will be for the group, but to me it's going to be the ability of Dominique Williams to become a No. 1 receiver. WSU will spread the ball around so they don't need Williams to be a 150 target guy, but I still think they will need someone to rise above the crop and be the top dog.
Either way you slice it, with so many players in the fold, the targets and catches should be a lot of fun next season (yes they are coming back, pinky promise).