Georgia State's offense enters the 2012 football season with as much depth as a team could possibly ask for at the skill positions. Last week the running back position and its six returning contributors were featured. This week the focus shifts to the wide receivers.
The leader of the receiving corps, and possibly the most talented player on the roster regardless of position, is Albert Wilson.Wilson is one of the fastest players on the team as well as one of the more vocal leaders. As was the case with running back Donald Russell, Wilson missed some time after suffering an injury against Jacksonville State. The Panther offense sputtered mightily without him and he burst back on the scene in a big way with his performance against South Alabama when he set a school record with 175 yards receiving on just five catches. Lining up opposite of Wilson is perhaps the Panther's most consistent performers in their short history, Danny Williams. Williams has caught a pass in every single game Georgia State has ever played. He is the career leader in receptions as well as receiving yards. Starting in the slot is Jordan Giles, who just came off a fantastic spring camp which led to him being named the Panthers' Best Performer on offense. Adding depth to the group are backups Nate Minor, Bo Carter, Darren McCray, and Lynquez Blair as well as incoming freshman Avery Sweeting.
The group's production was limited last season due to the revolving door of quarterbacks as well as poor offensive line play. Georgia State saw their passing production drop from 2,247 yards in 2010 to 2,039 in 2011. Many began to question the talent of the receivers because of such a drop in production. However, with Ben McLane having been named the starter (for now) and a improved and more athletic offensive line, Georgia State wide receivers are looking for a major bounce back season this year.
Albert Wilson- Wilson is generally considered to be the most talented player on the roster for Georgia State. His injury left the Panthers stagnant on offense and his return against South Alabama could best be described as simply explosive. His incredible 20.9 yards per catch on 37 catches for 772 yards proves that he was a highlight reel waiting to happen. Wilson's athleticism gives him the opportunity to take the ball at any part of the field and go the distance. His contributions were not only felt on offense but on special teams as well where he ranked 8th in the nation in punt return average at 11.9 yards per return.
Georgia State may look to limit Wilson's playing time on returns, however, in an attempt to keep him healthy. He is too important to the offense to risk being hurt on a kick return. However, there was a moment during spring practice when the returners muffed three kicks in a row, causing great frustration to head coach Bill Curry. Wilson saw this happen and stepped in to return the kick and immediately took it to the house for a long touchdown. Therefore, if the Panthers' struggle in the return game, don't be surprised to see Wilson put himself in a position to make a play.
Danny Williams- Georgia State's career leading receiver seemed to struggle at times last season. Williams enjoyed such a good connection with 2010 starter Drew Little that it seemed as though he was out of sync with the quarterbacks in 2011. Presumed starter Ben McLane recognized this and said he has worked hard with Williams this off season to build the kind of chemistry that he had with Little. One thing is for certain, the Panthers need a productive Williams in order to be successful. Wilson will certainly garner the attention of the safeties with his ability to stretch the field, and where Williams excels is in the mid range routes where timing and precision route running are key. If Offensive Coordinator John Bond is able to stretch the defense and keep them aware of Albert, thus opening the middle of the field for Williams 6'4 frame to roam without fear of annihilation from a safety over top, then it will be a very much improved passing attack for the Panthers.
Jordan Giles- Giles is one of the more popular players on the team and a consistent performer in every way. With an admired work ethic and plenty of skill, Giles could be set for a breakout season. He was fourth the fourth leading receiver on the team last season with 16 catches for 264 yards and four touchdowns. As mentioned before, Giles had an excellent spring camp and seemed to have really good chemistry with Ben McLane. McLane likes to check down to the shorter routes frequently rather than throw the deep ball and risk an Interception, so look for Giles production to increase this season.
Nathaniel Minor- The former walk on from Brookwood High School is certainly no stranger to catching passes from Ben McLane. The two led the Broncos to a state championship just two seasons ago and now Minor will be looked to provide some depth to a very talented receiving corps. After impressing many during fall camp, Minor contributed minimally in his first season only recording five catches for 33 yards. But after another productive spring he is projected to be the back up to Albert Wilson in the X receiver position. Minor is a tall target with solid hands in traffic and is definitely someone the Panthers want to see develop over the next two seasons in preparation for losing Williams, Wilson and Giles in 2014.
Lynquez Blair- Lynquez is another candidate for possibly fastest player on the team. Blair came to Georgia State with the reputation of being a burner and possibly a contributor right away considering his big play potential. However, he did not catch a pass in 2011 and he developed a small reputation for being a poor pass catcher. Blair still struggled dropping the ball at times during the spring, but much more often than not him and McLane did hook up for the big play that most predicted. He was by far one of the standout players on offense this spring and will look to add a spark to a passing attack that struggled mightily last season.
Darren McCray- McCray was hampered by a injury for the first half of 2011, but came back to catch five passes for 55 yards and return five kicks for an average 22.6 yards per return. He was the first person in Georgia State history to return a kick for a touchdown and also had an electrifying 41 yard touchdown run on a reverse against Jacksonville State in 2010. With him and Wilson being out last season the Panthers lacked a target with the speed to stretch the defense. However, McCray was another guy that the coaches identified as being one of the standout players this spring. If he can stay healthy look for him and Parris Lee to be the main kick returners and I would expect at least one or two big time plays out of McCray this season with limited playing time.
Bo Carter- Carter is another former walk on that has seen limited playing time over his first two season with the Panthers, but is a tall and reliable target. He rarely drops balls and is known as a leader on the team despite his limited production.
Avery Sweeting- Sweeting was the lone signee for the position last February. He was an all area selection by the Brunswick News and is known for his blazing speed. Avery qualified for state in the 100 and 200 meter events each of the last two years and returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in his career at Brunswick high school. Barring injury, Sweeting will most likely take a redshirt in 2012, but if Lee, Wilson, or McCray become unavailable to return kicks then he could be called upon to fill that void for Georgia State.