Expectations are through the roof this season for the Bearcats as they return their deepest and most talented roster, probably of all time. In this multi-part series, I’ll examine each of the position groups, expectations, potential break out stars, and weaknesses. This week we’ll examine the Wide Receivers led by Alec Pierce and Michael Young.
LIVE UP TO THE STANDARD. 🐾🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/SyjCMGgadx
— Mike Brown (@Im_MikeB) April 28, 2021
The Bearcats return 4 of their 5 leading receivers this season losing leading receiver Jayshon Jackson, in surprising fashion to the Ball State Cardinals (chirp chirp). The Bearcats have spent the past couple of years working on their Wide Receiver room after the departure of former WR Coach Joker Phillips and now have 19 total receivers on the roster. The top 4 are all but certain, but a lot of question marks loom behind Alec Pierce, Michael Young Jr, Jordan Jones, and Tre Tucker.
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Alec Pierce returns as the Bearcats leading receiver in yards per catch, despite only playing in 6 games last season. Pierce ended the year with 315 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 18.5 yards per catch. Pierce is a big downfield threat who focuses playing on the outside of field and looks to improve on his 2020 season. Alec has a big catch radius and can climb the ladder to catch passes that are high in the air. If Pierce can stay healthy next season and build a strong repertoire with Ridder, he can be a great compliment to Whyle and the other receivers on the inside of the field.
— Brady Collins (@BCstrength) June 15, 2021
Notre Dame transfer Michael Young Jr. joined the Bearcats last season and had a big impact, garnering 332 yards and 3 touchdowns playing in all 10 games. Young plays opposite Pierce as well as on the inside of the field. Young is a crisp route runner who uses his speed and agility to put himself in position to catch passes. Let’s hope Young plays a big part in a win in South Bend this season.
BIG TIME END TO OUR @GoBearcatsFB “FAST N FURIOUS” COMPETIONS! Huge S/O to THE 👑 @1SilkySmooth and the other TOP winners @Myjai_Slatt @ridder_desmond9 @duubbb ⚡️🔥💨⚫️🔴🐾#CLIFTONstyle pic.twitter.com/y9n9nCyqD8
— Brady Collins (@BCstrength) February 22, 2021
Tre Tucker is the speedster of the group, having elite speed as a receiver and as a kick returner. Tucker finished the season with 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tucker should break out this year as him and Jayshon Jackson competed for playing time this past season. Look for Tucker to increase his catches and touchdowns.
Rounding out the Top 4 receivers is Arkansas transfer Jordan Jones. Jones is a jack of all trades who can line up at all wide receiver positions. Jones looks to come back and build more confidence with Ridder and have an opportunity to step up from last year where he had 157 yards on 13 receptions.
Behind the Top 4 receivers, Sophomores Jadon Thompson, the Bearcats #3 recruit in their 2020 class, and Tyler Scott each garnered a few receptions last season. Thompson is a big bodied receiver who can fill in for Alec Pierce as a downfield threat and Scott is more of a smooth route runner who can fill in when Michael Young Jr or Tre Tucker need a break. Behind those guys is a lot of talent, that’s unproven and some guys who have some question marks. Can Ohio State transfer Blue Smith stay healthy and finally get onto the field? He’s a big bodied athlete who had offers to play Division I Football and Basketball. Does Spring Game stand-out Will Pauling find his way onto the field? These are questions that’ll get answered at Camp Higher Ground and in the first two games of the season for the Bearcats.