If all goes as planned for the Virginia football team and Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Moore, as many as eight wideouts will see playing time Saturday night during the Cavaliers’ season opener against Division 1-AA William & Mary.
Last season – specifically after Tim Smith went down with a season-ending ankle injury after the second game – Virginia relied primarily on three wide receivers to take the majority of snaps. All that action took a serious toll on Dontrelle Inman, Kris Burd and Matt Snyder, Moore said Wednesday, and the Cavaliers would prefer not to have to depend on such a limited number of wideouts again this fall.
“Last year was a grind,” Burd said Monday. “We were kind of shallow at receiver. (This year) you can have fresher legs. If you're tired it gives you the opportunity to get a little wind and feel confident about the guys coming in after you.”
While Inman exhausted his eligibility, Burd and Snyder return to lead a wide receiving corps bolstered by the addition of several new faces and by the presence of a few experienced (and now healthy) players.
True freshmen Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings will receive significant playing time Saturday. Terrell is second on the depth chart behind Burd at one wideout position, while Jennings is third at the other wideout spot behind Smith and Snyder.
“We knew when we recruited those guys that they were going to have an opportunity to play if there were as dynamic as they appeared in high school,” Moore said. “And they really transitioned (well) into college receivers because both were quarterbacks” in high school.
Smith is back, and the team is hoping his incendiary speed is back, as well. Burd also is returning to health after playing through an ankle injury for most of last season. Snyder missed most of spring practice with a knee injury, but said Tuesday he has returned to 100 percent.
Moore said that if Smith returns to full health and when Burd works through some lingering “kinks” from his rehabilitated ankle, those two receivers could combine with Terrell and Jennings to provide the Cavaliers four legitimate deep threats.
Throw senior Ray Keys and redshirt freshmen Miles Gooch and E.J. Scott into the mix, and Virginia should have a wider range of capable options at wide receiver this season.
“I would be happy if seven or eight even played” against William & Mary, Moore said. “Last year, three guys logged a lot of reps, so if we could get seven or eight in the game, I’d be thrilled because that means everybody would be fresh and everybody should be able to play at full steam on every snap.”