May 7, 2007

Big play potential

This year's group of receivers and tight ends for the Orange promise to be one of the strengths of the team. There will be plenty of speed and athleticism lining up in the slot to give young quarterback Andrew Robinson the opportunity to make big plays.

The Orange's primary offensive weapon through the air will be Taj Smith. After only four games last season, Smith injured his collarbone and was forced to miss the rest of the season. Smith's injury came at a time when he was just emerging as one of the Oranges' most dangerous playmakers. After failing to record a catch in the Wake Forest game, Smith caught 12 passes for 227 yards in the next three games against Iowa, Illinois, and Miami of Ohio. He was becoming one of Patterson's favorite targets when he went down with the injury.

But it was recently declared that Smith has gained another year of eligibility due to a medical red shirt from last season. Coming into 2007 Smith figures to be the Orange's number one receiver. At six-foot-one and 188 pounds, Smith may not be the small forward sized receiver that has become so popular in the NFL, but his speed and pass-catching ability make him an explosive offensive weapon. He has the speed to beat cornerbacks down the field and the quickness to make defenders miss in the open field. Look for Robinson and Smith to become one of the Orange's go-to combinations this season.

Lining up in the other slot will be sophomore Mike Williams. At six-foot-two and 204 pounds, Williams has the size and athleticism to get jump balls on fade routes and overpower smaller cornerbacks. In his freshman season he stepped up in Smith's absence, finishing with 24 receptions for 461 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged over 19 yards per reception. Last season Williams became the first freshman to lead the Orange in receiving yards since 1983.

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