August 4, 2010

Cardinal Camp preview: Wide Receiver

Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu return to form one of the top wideout combos in the conference but the Cardinal have a need to fill out the depth chart. This camp will be crucial for the Stanford passing attack to find a third wide receiver capable of attacking opposing defenses.

Biggest question: Who will step up as the #3 wideout?

In Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu the Cardinal are set atop the depth chart. Stanford coaches hope a third threat will emerge at wideout. The candidates include Doug Baldwin, Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Drew Terrell and Griff Whalen. And although listed at tight end, Coby Fleener figures to line up wide more often than he does on tight on the line. Baldwin has the experience edge with 31 games as a college player, but injuries last fall and the spring have slowed his progress. Patterson has shown flashes of being a top-flight receiver, capable of the acrobatic catch, strong and fast. He needs to work on consistency to break through. Terrell had a good spring, is very quick and a good route runner. Former walk-on Griff Whalen has sure hands and is a tough blocker.

What we know right now: Whalen is a legit All Pac-10 player

The hard-working Whalen has led the Cardinal in receiving the last two seasons with 98 catches. Whalen is also a relentless blocker, and was key in springing Gerhart downfield many times in 2009. The former walk-on has improved all areas of his game since arriving on campus. At 71 receiving yards per game Whalen was fifth in the conference last season and with a Cardinal offense primed to open up look for Whalen's number to increase.
Fresh fall camp faces: Keanu Nelson

Nelson caught 61 passes for 1,135 yards and eight touchdowns last year at Tucson Sabino High School. Nelson was the only wideout the Cardinal inked in the 2010 class, and he figures to get a look at cornerback as well. In a perfect world Stanford won't need to call on Nelson this season and he has the opportunity to redshirt.
Early camp prediction

The competition will be tight in the wideout rotation and Luck needs a viable third option to compliment the starters. The junior Baldwin has all the physical tools to be a threat at wideout, but he needs to stay injury free all camp. Patterson is another prospect will all the making of a big-play receiver, showing excellent speed and hands to go along with his physical presence. Baldwin will need to stave off the charge of Patterson, Terrell and Whalen in what figures to be a good battle for playing time.

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