Part of a position-by-position look at Navy football this spring
NAVY WIDE RECEIVERS
Starters returning (1): WR Matt Aiken (13 receptions, 201 yards, 2 TD; 11 starts)
Other notable returnees: WR Brandon Turner (14-300-3, 4 starts), WR Casey Bolena (4-53, 1 start), WR John O’Boyle (1-2)
Starters lost (1): WR Doug Furman (graduation; 1-5, 8 starts)
Other notable departures: WR Bruce Andrews (graduation; 1-8)
Notable addition: WR Shawn Lynch (junior; switched from safety)
Emerging names to know: WR Matt Shibata (senior), James King (sophomore)
Career starts returning: 26 (Turner 14, Aiken 11, Bolena 1)
Career starts lost: 11 (Furman 11)
Playing wide receiver in a triple-option offense can sometimes prove a thankless task.
There’s blocking. Lots and lots of blocking. And maybe one or two times a game, a ball is thrown a receiver’s way.
Maybe it’s not so stark if you’re Demaryius Thomas or Stephen Hill, a pair of receivers who did quite well for themselves at Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson. It wasn’t quite that simple for Greg Jones, who had 33 catches for 662 yards in 2010 for Navy.
But with the Mids shifting from Ricky Dobbs to Kriss Proctor at quarterback, the offense tilted significantly away from the passing game. Proctor had only 103 passing attempts in 11 games as Navy tried to exploit his ability to run the option.
With Trey Miller at quarterback, expect some more throwing. And that could mean a bump in numbers for an bunch at wideout that’s fairly well known.
Both Brandon Turner and Matt Aiken are established, and Casey Bolena is a promising talent. There’s also Shawn Lynch, a wideout-turned-safety-turned-wideout who played plenty in the first half of last season.
There could be some additional receiving responsibilities in the season to come, but it won’t be the top priority. That will remain blocking, something the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Turner has improved on over the last year. That should help offset the loss of Doug Furman, who started the first eight games of 2011 before suffering an ACL tear.
Out of all of Navy’s units, this seems like one less likely to produce an out-of-nowhere contributor than others. The top three guys from the end of last season return, and Lynch and John O’Boyle have both played regularly.
Of course, Bruce Andrews went from an afterthought to a guy who appeared in all 12 games last season thanks to a strong August. Is there a similar wideout lurking in the background this spring? Perhaps.
Expected or not, though, count on any member of the group’s priority to be blocking. As usual.