COLUMN: WKU receivers facing a golden opportunity

COLUMN: WKU receivers facing a golden opportunity

Zach Greenwell

When asked about his two previous knee injuries last week, sophomore Courtney Dalcourt flashed a smile.

It wasn’t necessarily a happy smile, more a realization that this interview — like every other he’s done at WKU — was going to be about what has kept him off the field for two years.

But through a remarkable set of circumstances that has completely turned over WKU’s wide receiver position, Dalcourt finally got to answer some questions about getting a large number of reps this spring.

And that drew a genuine smile.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Dalcourt said. “Unfortunately we have people who aren’t on the field with us that would love to be there, but guys have to step up.”

The two most notable absences from spring practice are starting receivers Marcus Vasquez and Willie McNeal.

Vasquez, a junior, is out with a broken collarbone he suffered last season but will return in the fall. The sophomore McNeal isn’t so lucky, as he went down with a season-ending knee injury last week.

But it’s not just that duo. Of the seven receivers who caught a pass for WKU last year, six aren’t on the spring roster.

So I’ll give you a list of just a few people who now have to step up along with Dalcourt. Odds are you won’t recognize every name.

Jamarielle Brown. Joel German. Rico Brown. Maurice Bullard.

If you’re a diehard WKU fan, you might know all of these guys. But the truth is, just one has ever caught a pass in a game.

I’ll leave it up to you to find out which. You probably need the practice learning the names anyway.

Those four are just a sample of a host of young receivers that have to treat this spring like the most important time of their careers.

If Vasquez and McNeal were lined up on both sides of the ball right now, most of these guys would never stand a chance. But to have a playmaker position virtually open to anyone — that doesn’t come along too often.

And the sooner these guys pick up the pace, the better.

WKU’s passing game struggled last season, and Head Coach Willie Taggart placed the blame on the receivers rather than quarterback Kawaun Jakes on several occasions.

If there were problems getting on the same page with receivers before, how tough is it going to be now?

“When we have people fall down injured, we have a person waiting right there to take their spot,” Dalcourt said. “It’s like a never-ending chain.”

A never-ending chain might not be the best way to build consistency, but it’s all WKU has.

Much like he did with his young defensive backs, Taggart’s going to have to throw these inexperienced receivers into the mix and hope they show up.

But first they have to appreciate the door that’s opened for them.

For Dalcourt, who’s waited so long, the opportunity’s got him smiling. The same should go for all the others trying to make people remember their names.