Tulsa looks to fill receiving team holes
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, August 05, 2011
8/05/11 at 5:49 AM
Jordan James had a great offseason for the University of Tulsa football team. So did Bryan Burnham and Brett Davis.
Thomas Roberson made progress working through the effects of a broken foot.
All four men hope to take advantage of a big vacuum in the Golden Hurricane's 2011 receiving corps. And they aren't the only ones.
TU has big shoes to fill, despite the return of all-league senior Damaris Johnson.
The fleet receiver kick-returner from Norco, La., averaged 15.3 yards per catch last year on the way to becoming the NCAA career leader in all-purpose yards.
But who steps up as an alternate target, now that H-back Charles Clay and Trae Johnson are gone? They combined for almost 5,000 receiving yards over four seasons, and finished sixth and 10th in TU career receiving.
"I think we all need to step up," said junior receiver Ricky Johnson, who had one of the biggest plays in TU's 2010 season.
His 31-yard catch from G.J. Kinne on third-and-26 rescued the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter of the Hurricane's landmark 28-27 win at Notre Dame.
"We'll do it by committee," said Roberson, the former Union High standout who was third on the team with 30 receptions as a true freshman last season. "We have more than enough in our receiving corps to (complement) Damaris."
During Thursday's media day activities, head coach Bill Blankenship said he likes the large number of candidates he has to choose from.
"We have some young receivers - and I don't mean newcomers - that will help," Blankenship said. "This is a key time. We really need to find six. If we can find six, we can be successful with what we need to do. They are on campus. We just have to find the ones that (are) going to be the six."
Almost everyone was raving about the progress James, a 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore from Lafayette, La., has made since spending most of last year on special teams.
"I believe I could have helped the team a little bit more, so in that sense, I'm real hungry to get out there," James said.
Said Blankenship: "I love the way Jordan James has shown up. Jordan is a young man that hasn't played much, but he is a big, physical receiver and could be that over-the-middle, physical guy that we need."
Davis, a third-year sophomore, and Burnham, a fourth-year junior, haven't played a lot, but that could change.
"These guys showed up (in Thursday's opening practice) and acted like they wanted a job," Blankenship said.
Freeman Kelly, a sophomore from Lancaster, Texas, returns after redshirting last season. And don't discount the newcomers. TU has four freshmen coming in, led by 6-foot-4 Keyarris Garrett, who was part of three straight Class 2A championship teams in Daingerfield, Texas.
And don't forget about Willie Carter. The junior from Crockett, Texas, is heir apparent to Clay's spot, catching passes out of the backfield. He had five TD receptions last year, including the longest of the season, a 75-yarder at East Carolina.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa looks to fill receiving team holes
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Thomas Roberson, Ricky Johnson and Jordan James hope to fill the shoes of Charles Clay and Trae Johnson, who combined for 5,000 receiving yards over four seasons for TU. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World