Rounding out the depth chart: Wide receiver
Spring football is almost a month away and now the Wildcats have their sights set back on filling out the 2023 roster with some late additions and building the classes of 2024 and 2025. With that in mind , I thought now would be a good time to give an update on what the depth chart will look like for the season opener on September 2 against SEMO.
Each piece focuses on one position group and by the end of the series, we should have a projected depth chart in place. It seemed like it would be best to start with the most important and also the most obvious position of who has number one.
5/12: Running back
WR1: KEAGAN JOHNSON
Keagan Johnson was the biggest transfer in 2023 for K-State, the former Iowa Hawkeye selected the Wildcats and gave them a big boost to a wide receiver room that was missing Malik Knowles and Kade Warner from the previous season.
In two seasons at Iowa, Johnson caught 20 passes for two touchdowns and 360-plus yards, but he only played in one game in the 2022 season for Iowa and decided to move on. Johnson also dealt with injuries during his time at Iowa.
Johnson was a four-star wide receiver out of high school and needs a fresh start, much like talented cornerback Julius Brents who made the same move from Iowa to K-State and became a draft pick in the second round.
Johnson’s experience, albeit limited, as well as his skill set and ability make him the undisputed top target heading into spring ball and the start of the season for K-State.
WR2: PHILLIP BROOKS
Phillip Brooks has the most experience on the roster for K-State and I thought he took a strong step forward in 2022 as a true receiver for the team. He was more consistent with his hands, including passes that had been dropped in the past and becoming a reliable target for Adrian Martinez and Will Howard.
Brooks had the most catches, yards and sacks of his career in 2022 with K-State’s new and improved passing attack led by offensive coordinator Colin Klein. The question Brooks and other receivers will face is what the development and production will be like this season with other wide receivers coached as Matthew Middleton taking place Thad Ward.
Brooks will never have the “game-breaking” ability in the passing game that Knowles had and K-State hopes Johnson has, but his reliability and experience will allow him great size. of production in 2023.
WR3: RJ GARCIA or JADON JACKSON?
RJ Garcia caught the first touchdown pass of his career in the Big 12 Championship last season, it was a bullet and fake pass from Will Howard. Garcia reached up and grabbed it for a big play. Outside of that, Garcia only caught six more passes during the season and the questions about him will be about durability and production relative to his size.
Another possible option is wide receiver Jadon Jackson, who transferred from Ole Miss before the 2022 season. Jackson’s two catches last season came in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama and he played in the most games to retain his redshirt. Jackson had SEC potential but couldn’t consistently find the field at Ole Miss and this season presents his best chance to produce on the college football field with the depth chart open
OTHER NOMINATIONS: STERLING LOCKETT, JAYCE BROWN, TRE SPIVEY, XAVIER LOYD
K-State’s wide receiver position could see some young players find the field at times during the season. K-State legacy Sterling Lockett has surprised some and performed well behind the scenes and will be a legitimate contender for time, whether it’s this season or next.
True freshmen like Tre Spivey and Jayce Brown could also showcase their talent and get early playing time. Erwin Nash and Xavier Loyd are other players who have been in the program and could easily find reps here and there.
The number of players who will get a chance to see the field in 2023 easily illustrates why K-State’s lack of question marks at wide receiver will be the biggest. A talent that has yet to prove itself at the college level, outside of Brooks.