For those worried about Virginia’s receiving corps, there were encouraging signs throughout the team’s first open practice of training camp. There was Michael McGrew, looking sharp, fast and (most importantly) open. There was Deyon Williams , snagging long balls and running crisp routes. There was Emmanuel Byers , scooting out of the slot position for several touchdown catches. Even Imhotep Durham, a walk-on, was a star Friday with a pair of sensational grabs.
The wideouts barely dropped any balls all day and seemed to be heavily involved in the offense. Granted, it was only one practice, but it pokes a hole in the theory that UVa’s receivers won’t be a significant and productive part of the Cavalier offense this season.
“I think we’re going to be better than people think. We’re going to be ready,” said McGrew, the only established wideout on the roster. “The young guys got their feet wet last year. I think they’re all ready to step it up this year and make plays on a consistent basis.”
McGrew also says he is 100 percent healthy after missing last season with a broken left leg. In retrospect, that injury may have been a blessing in disguise for the Cavs. Had McGrew played last year, he would be gone along with the team’s other top four wideouts from last season (Ryan Sawyer, Ottowa Anderson, Marques Hagans – now playing quarterback – and Art Thomas). Instead, he redshirted and is still around to lead an otherwise inexperienced receiving corps.
“Everything happens for a reason, right?” McGrew said with a smile after Friday’s practice. “Last year was hard. It was the first time I’d been injured. But I feel I can bring a lot of leadership and playmaking ability to the team this year. Our new receivers coach, Coach [John] Garrett, says I can be like the second coach to these young guys.”
Williams, a 6-3 sophomore, looks like he will be the other starting receiver.
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