Hoo Preview ’09: Receivers

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Kris Burd is one of several players trying to make an impact at wideout.

Much of the offseason chatter for Virginia football has focused on the full-time shift to a spread offense. While coach Al Groh correctly notes that UVa has featured spread elements on offense previously, new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon is taking things to a new level as a long-time coach of the spread.

On the simplest level, running a spread offense means spreading the defense out both horizontally and vertically. With that in mind, receiver may be the most important and interesting position to watch this season with the Cavaliers.

Do the Hoos have enough playmakers and enough depth at receiver to make the spread engine run at an optimal level? Maybe. How’s that for an enlightening answer? Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint how the receivers will perform in the 2009 preseason. Clearly, there’s tons of potential and there appears to be more speed than in previous years – instead of one Kevin Ogletree type, you’ve got multiple players that have wheels as an attribute and you’ve got more wideout positions to put them in.

On the flipside, however, there’s the demonstrated performance category that Coach Groh is always referencing. In a nutshell, there hasn’t been a whole lot of that yet from this group. Of all the receivers on this season’s roster – and there are a lot of guys getting looks in those spots – only three made more than one reception a year ago. Just one, Jared Green , reached double figures. Experience, simply, isn’t something that this group has in its coffers. Much less experience in the spread offense.

So that leaves us operating in the danger zone of potential. Fortunately, there’s lots of that to go around, starting with Green. Just a redshirt freshman in 2008, the Oakton product started to become a viable option a season ago on his way to 12 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. Considering that Green had just 17 catches as a high school senior in a run-first offense and that