Where does one begin when looking back at the 2008 receivers? The leading pass catcher, Kashif Moore, pulled in just 27 catches all season. He also led the team with one touchdown grab, yes you read it right, the leading receiver on the Huskies had just one touchdown reception all season.
So, was it the quarterback play, the inability of the receivers to create separation or a combination of the two that led to a poor passing attack? Obviously, the play-calling of ex-offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose had a lot to do with the lack of production from the receiving corps. Last season, the Huskies ran a total of 885 plays, 556 of which, were on the ground. That comes to a 63-to-37 percent run-to-pass ratio. Simply put, the opportunities were just not there for the wideouts to make an impression.
K. Moore possesses breakaway speed, something that was evident against Rutgers, when he grabbed a pass from quarterback Zach Frazer and took it 47 yards to the house for his first career touchdown in a Connecticut uniform.
Also returning is senior Brad Kanuch, who has experienced injury after injury since his arrival at UConn. Finally completely healthy, Kanuch will look to continue his reputation as one of the most sure-handed receivers to come through Storrs.
If the spring game is any indication how good Marcus Easley can be (10 catches, 169 yards, 2 TDs), then the Huskies found another weapon that will be utilized in 2009.
Michael Smtih rounds out the players returning that have seen game action in previous seasons. The Texas native has been praised by Edsall for his work ethic and progress as a receiver since the spring.
Starting with prized recruit Dwayne Difton, the rest of the receivers are inexperienced, but by all accounts, very talented. The highest rated player to ever commit to Connecticut out of high school (4-stars), Difton has worked his way to the forefront of the group and is poised to make an immediate impact for the Huskies. His former high school teammate at St. Thomas Acquinas HS (FL), Duron Carter (Ohio St.), is the son of former Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame receiver, Chris Carter, who helped coach-up Difton into the player he has become.
Redshirt freshman Isiah Moore made news in the spring, when he leaped to the top of the depth chart at one receiver position and should see a significant amount of time. Another Florida receiver, Mike Lang and fellow true freshman Malik Generett have shown some things in the spring.
Last, but certainly not least, is redshirt Gerrard Sheppard. The 6' 2" 209-pound freshman believes his work over the summer will be enough to put him in the 2-deep rotation.
That makes nine receivers who could impact the Connecticut offense in a drastic way in 2009. All will not see the field, but head coach Randy Edsall has said he might be willing to play as many as eight receivers throughout the season. They all bring something different to the table and it is that flexibility that could make this once weak spot for the Huskies into a strength.
Marcus Aiken, of St. Paul in Bristol, CT, another newcomer to the program who was recruited as a wide receiver, has been moved to safety in the last week due to the suspension of S Aaron Bagsby.