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Incumbent Wide Receivers and Replacing Stardom

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Things we learned from Stephen Hill.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Here at Wide-Receiver-U, it’s no secret that we’ve been fortunate with our share of big, tall, fast, monster wide receivers.  The arguably top two wide receivers playing in the NFL right now are both Tech products.  It also looks like 2 more will be drafted this year, despite our rival’s negative recruiting pitches that, for some unknown reason, coaches still try to use against us:

Why as one of the state’s top wide receptors, would you want to play in that goofy offense at Tech?  Do you just enjoy blocking? Do you mind only catching 35 passes all season… even if they go for over 700 yards and 7 touchdowns?  You think you can get into the NFL from there?  …Wait, they’ve put how many receptors in the NFL from the flexbone?

That may or may not have been a direct (read: abbreviation) quote from our favorite dark blue, Coastal coach in North Carolina.

So anyway, here we are trying to replace 2 stellar, star wide receivers on offense.  We have a very talented, seasoned, and promising wide receiver waiting in the wings named Michael Summers.  The point of this article is to slow the hype train.  I’m scared of the hype train for incumbent wide receivers who have to replace big stars… Mostly because of Stephen Hill.

We all remember what happened.  Bey-Bey goes first round of the draft, and the ole hype train hits full gear for our next standout receiver, Stephen Hill.  Well as it turns out, over-coverage by the media and oppressing fan-excitement can, and will, screw with the head of a 19 year-old kid.  Hill had all the talent and skills in the world, but it turns out he wasn’t very good at catching passes that hit him in the chest.

I remember Coach Johnson even telling the media several times that Hill was the go-to-guy and was everything anyone could want in a wide receiver… except that he was a head case.  He wanted to be Demaryius Thomas, but he wasn’t, and that nagged at him.  He was dead set on filling the very large shoes left for him, and he couldn’t get past his own mental block.

So to you, Micheal Summers, or even Ricky Jeune, or Antonio Messick, we here at FTRS want to address you:

We want to encourage you.  We’re on your side.  You don’t have to be Smelter or Waller.  You have a different name and number on your jersey, and that’s great.  We’re excited for you, and we’re pulling for you.  Show us what you can do.  We’ll be in the stands cheering for you.  You be you, whatever that looks like.

Maybe a go-to wide receiver doesn’t emerge on The Flats this fall.  Maybe it’s a receiver-by-committee approach.  Maybe instead of making circus catches, you pride yourself on that flattening, crackback block on a linebacker that freed an A-back for a long run.  It’s also encouraged for you to pride yourself on holding a block on a corner downfield for 10+ seconds to free a B-back dive that goes 80 yards.

10 seconds?! I know - that’s a long time.  Sometimes those guys run like they’re carrying a refrigerator on their backs.

You don’t have to be this year’s Biletnikoff winner.  I mean, if you do win it, we’re going to be super proud of you and all… But as much as we here write about expectations, stepping up, and filling the void left by graduation at the position, it’s only because we know y’all are talented and are more than capable of replacing the talent there.

To reiterate, don’t let the hype get to you. We all know you’re not Megatron, Bey-Bey, Waller, or Smelter… or (thank God) Stephen Hill. You might be the next big star at the position, or you might not, and either is okay. We’ll still be cheering for you.