WR corps brings back MU memories

August 23, 2018

Remember when Marshall had outstanding wide receiver corps that put up such prolific statistics it was mind-boggling?

Who doesn’t?

The three-year span of 2000-2001-2002 featured arguably the most spectacular aerial attacks in Marshall’s history.

Well, guess what.

It appears the Herd’s 2018 wide receiving corps should be mentioned in the same sentence as the former juggernauts.

It is that deeply talented.

Just ask Doc Holliday.

“It’s potentially the deepest receiving corps I’ve ever had here,” said Holliday, entering his ninth season as MU’s head coach. “I don’t think there’s any question. But potential gets you beat; production wins games. If we can turn all that potential into production it will be a special group.

“We’ve got four guys who played an awful lot of football for us a year ago. You add Artie Henry, Talik Keaton and Naquan Renalds into the mix and add them to the four that played a year ago and it gives us some depth.”

The four returnees are X-receiver Tyre Brady and slot receiver Marcel Williams, along with outside receivers Willie Johnson and Obi Obialo. They are joined by Henry, junior college transfer, and Renalds, redshirt freshman, to give MU a two-deep receiving corps.

Even when Holliday was wide receivers coach at WVU, he doesn’t remember having a corps this deep.

“I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this many,” he said, “not that I haven’t had some really good players. But Brady is probably as good a kid as I’ve ever had, to be honest. Then, you add the rest of these guys that have played a lot of football for us.”

In 2017, this veteran quartet along with tight end Ryan Yurachek combined on 212 catches for 2,625 yards and 24 touchdowns. Brady led the way with 62 receptions for 942 yards and eight TDs. Yurachek added 54 catches for 490 yards and 10 touchdowns. Next, there was Williams with 41 for 512 yards and two TDs and Johnson with 36 receptions for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Obialo added 19 catches for 238 yards.

And, now, despite the loss of Yurachek, this corps is a year older, stronger and even deeper.

That’s why the comparisons to the 2000, 2001 and 2002 corps are legitimate.

In 2000, Nate Poole (70 catches for 818 yards and four TDs), David Foye (53-549-3), Lanier Washington (40-512-2), John Cooper (37-477-5), Darius Watts (36-616-6) and Denero Marriott (1-12-0) combined on 237 receptions for 2,984 yards and 20 touchdowns.

That got the ball spiraling.

In 2001, Watts (91 catches for 1,417 yards and 18 TDs), Josh Davis (76-961-5), Marriott (56-800-9), tight end Gregg Kellett (25-336-0) and Curtis Jones (19-248-4) combined on 267 receptions for 3,762 yards and 36 touchdowns.

Then, in 2002, came the explosion. Watts (71 catches for 1,030 yards and 12 TDs), Davis (75-1,191-5) and Marriott (86-993-8) each were near 1,000-yard receivers. Add running back Brandon Carey’s 42 catches for 386 yards and a TD and tight end Jason Rader’s 30 receptions for 320 yards and two TDs and the receiving corps totaled 304 catches for 3,920 yards and 28 touchdowns.

That’s the rarefied air MU’s 2018 receiving corps has a chance to join.

Any thoughts on that Dallas Baker?

“I’m ready for the challenge,” said MU’s wideout coach. “The challenge is getting those guys ready. We look good on paper, but now we’ve got to put it on grass.”

It will be worth watching.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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