Positional Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Sophomore receiver Justin LeMay

Continuing the series of previews today is the receivers and tight ends. Arguably the deepest position for the Broncos this unit set several WMU football records last season and could be just as potent this season.

Last season was a breakout season for a few players on the Western Michigan football team. Greg Jennings became just the second receiver in WMU history to surpass 1000 yards in a season in the same game he and Jon Drach broke the record the longest passing play in a game at WMU.

During the same season tight end Tony Scheffler injured his shoulder against Michigan State in the season opener. Replacing him was true freshman Tyson DeVree who came to WMU after passing on an offer from Penn State. DeVree would go on to be the receiving tight end to complement, the now departed, blocking tight end Anthony Kiner. By the end of the season DeVree was a freshman all-American.

This season both Jennings and DeVree are back for another year of Bronco football and Scheffler has returned from injury a little heavier but just as fast. Add to that senior Tyrone Walker and redshirt freshman Brian Jackson on the first team offense and you already have more depth then you can use at one time.

Walker has also received quite a bit of attention for professional scouts this season. Scouts from the Ravens and Colts have come to Kalamazoo already this season to take a close look at Walker, as well as get a preview of Jennings for next year.

"I don't know who in the league you'd trade them for," said Gary Darnell talking about the receivers. "I don't think you'd trade tight ends from our team with anyone in the league, maybe not in the country," he added about the tight ends. Sounds like a good problem to have.

"Brian Jackson continues to improve; Tony Scheffler is playing at a very, very high level after being out all last year with the broken collarbone," said Brian Rock. Rock told Broncos Illustrated last spring that with the depth we have fans will see a lot of two tight end sets to complement the single tight end three wide out sets fans are used to seeing. "I think we'll see a few more personnel groupings and a few more offensive formations that keep things pretty interesting," added Rock.

As it stands right now Jennings, Walker and Jackson are the first team wide receivers with Scheffler at tight end. However there will be many times this season where the Broncos will line up with DeVree as a second tight end in place of Jackson to give opponents more looks then they are used to seeing from WMU.

The key to success on this team won't come from just the star players. Success will also be dependent on something the Broncos have plenty of… depth.

The receiver corps goes very deep this season. Backing up the starters are Joe Chapple, Eugene Childs and Justin LeMay all of whom have shown signs of future greatness in camp. LeMay has been the best of that group spending some of camp with the first team offense ahead of Jackson.

Beyond the three backups are a stable talented receivers who could all see playing time this season including: freshman Jamarko Simmons, Kelly Martin, Osborn Curtis and Mike Slater.

The depth at tight end is equally impressive with Ross Farren and Mike Kempinski backing up Scheffler and DeVree. Also in the mix for playing time this season are true freshmen Ryan Lecher and Mike Onaga. "We have some really special players at tight end," said Darnell.

Could we see more records fall and more all-Americans this season? That depends on the success at quarterback, the effect that a more balanced attack with the running game may have and how well the talented receivers execute. One that isn't a worry though, is a lack of talent.

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