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Georgia Tech Football: Way-too-Early Look at 2016 - Wide Receivers

Today, we have another transitional group.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last Season

Like the B-backs, everyone knew that coming into this season, it would be a bit of a transitional season as the days of DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller were gone, as they were both drafted this past year.

With those two gone, it looked like Ricky Jeune and Micheal Summers would be the go-to guys for Georgia Tech this season, and for most of the season, they were.

After showing up great in practice, true freshman Brad Stewart also joined that group to give Tech a seemingly formidable trio of receivers.

So how'd they do? It was kind of ehh for the most part, though part (not all) of that can be placed on poor pass blocking. Ricky Jeune was far and away Tech's best receiver this year, but that's not really saying a whole lot. He caught just 24 passes for 520 yards (21.7 yards/catch) and five touchdowns. It took a good chunk of the year, but by the end of the season, it seemed like Jeune and Justin Thomas were really starting to get on the same page.

That's about where the good things stop, though. Micheal Summers dealt with injuries most of the season before calling it quits the week before the Virginia Tech game and finished with just 12 catches for 178 yards (14.8 yards/catch) and two touchdowns.

True freshman Brad Stewart showed some promise and occasional explosion, but still had just seven catches for 93 yards (13.3 yards/catch) and no touchdowns. He also attempted one pass, which resulted in an interception, giving him a passer rating of -200 (lower than that of Ryan Rodwell who also attempted one pass which was incomplete).

That's it. Tech had three receivers all year catch a pass, despite having 10 receivers listed on the roster (11 if you count Summers).

Who's Gone?

And here comes some of the good news. In addition to the loss of Micheal Summers, the only other receiver that Tech lost was back-up Brandon Oliver, who had no stats this season despite appearing in 10 games.

Losing Summers does hurt, though. While he wasn't as good as his potential showed he could be, he was still our most experienced receiver, and any time a team loses its most experienced player at a skill position like that, it's going to hurt. The timing of it really hurt as well, since Tech had to go its last three games (Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia) with just Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart to throw it to. That's a defensive coordinator's dream.

Who's New?

And here, we have some more good news. Tech had three players listed at wide receiver who redshirted this past season: Dorian Walker, Harland Howell and Christian Philpott. Now while I do believe that Dorian Walker will end up as a defensive back (especially now with Dante Wigley's departure), that still leaves Tech with Howell and Philpott, who could both end up as dynamite receivers.

I thought we'd see one of these two this past season, especially after Summers left the team, but they both stayed redshirts throughout the season. They bring excellent size with both being around 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, and while Howell is more of a possession guy, Philpott is probably the fastest receiver on the roster. And with his size, that's a fantastic combination.

Also joining the ranks of the receivers this past season was former defensive back Jalen Johnson. He didn't end up seeing much time at receiver this past season, but he brings excellent size at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, and gives Tech another body to throw in there at receiver.

Right now, Tech has three more receivers who are committed to play on the Flats in Jair Anderson, Jalen Camp and Steve Dolphus. Dolphus is the only 3-star of the group (Anderson and Camp are both 2-stars), but they all bring good size with all of them being 6-foot-2 or taller (Dolphus is 6-foot-5) and all with plenty of room to grow and fill out their frames.

Depth Chart Breakdown

Position First String Second String
Wide Receiver Ricky Jeune Jalen Johnson
Antonio Messick
Wide Receiver Brad Stewart OR
Christian Philpott
Harland Howell

These five receivers, should CPJ decide to use all of them, will be the top five guys here. Justin Thomas has already created some great chemistry with Jeune, and that will only get better as the two keep playing together.

The main position battle during Spring and Fall camps will be for the other receiver spot. Howell, Johnson and Messick will probably all get their shots, but I think Brad Stewart and Christian Philpott will be the guys who stand out there.

Stewart is a guy who is definitely more of a possession guy, similar to Jeune, and he showed some great flashes this past season, but it will still be a tough battle to hold off Christian Philpott, who I believe has a much higher ceiling tha Stewart.

Regardless of who starts at receiver, I think we will see some tremendous growth from this group this season, and they could very easily make the case for most improved unit by the end of the season.