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2020 Vanderbilt Football Position Preview: Wide Receiver

Who will emerge as the Commodores’ go-to receiver with Kalija Lipscomb graduating?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It said a lot about Vanderbilt’s passing game in 2019 that Kalija Lipscomb hauled in just three touchdown passes.

Lipscomb had 19 career touchdown receptions entering 2019, and after an incredible junior season — when he had 87 catches for 916 yards — his numbers in 2019 were much more pedestrian: 47 catches, 511 yards.

In addition to Lipscomb, Vanderbilt has to replace C.J. Bolar — who was the team’s third-leading receiver as a true freshman in 2018 before mysteriously slumping in 2019, and transferring to Alcorn State — and Justice Shelton-Mosley, who was mostly a return specialist but did have the third-highest number of catches among Vanderbilt’s wide receivers last season. Lipscomb’s theoretical production is going to be hard to replace, though replacing his actual production from 2019 is doable. There are few proven weapons in this receiving corps, but there seems to be a lot of potential.

The Potential Stars

Cam Johnson, redshirt sophomore: It was a surprise early in 2018 when Johnson, a four-star recruit from nearby Brentwood Academy, got off to a slow start, and then he broke his foot and missed the remainder of the season. That got him a redshirt year, and he returned in 2019 to finish second on the team in both receptions (30) and receiving yards (316) along with three touchdown catches. The 6’0”, 190-pound Johnson comes into 2020 as the most likely candidate to be Vanderbilt’s #1 receiver.

Amir Abdur-Rahman, redshirt sophomore: It would be great if Vanderbilt could get Johnson and Abdur-Rahman on the field at the same time. Instead Abdur-Rahman, after coming on strong late in the 2018 season (4 receptions, 108 yards and a touchdown), missed almost all of 2019 with an injury and got a redshirt year. The 6’4”, 210-pound redshirt sophomore from Atlanta might have even more upside than Johnson.

The Veterans

Chris Pierce, senior: Pierce scored his lone touchdown of 2019 on a 75-yard catch and run at Purdue; in his career, he’s mostly provided balance as a big (6’4”, 225) target, if not a spectacular runner. For his career, he has 27 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns and will figure to be Vanderbilt’s third receiver.

James Bostic, redshirt junior: Bostic hadn’t done much in two and a half years in the program, then randomly got targeted ten times against UNLV, resulting in four catches for 36 yards. For his career, he’s made 11 catches for 112 yards and has yet to catch a touchdown pass.

Jackson Winrow, redshirt senior: The lone fifth-year player in the receiving corps has three receptions in three years. It would be a surprise if he sees the field much in 2020.

The Kids

Devin Boddie, redshirt freshman and Jayden Harrison, redshirt freshman: A couple of in-state products who didn’t play in 2019, Boddie and Harrison are both small (Boddie is 5’11”/178, Harrison is 5’10”/192) speedsters who seem like they could be candidates to help in the return game, though either one could emerge as a complement to Johnson and Abdur-Rahman.

Logan Kyle, freshman: A three-star prospect, the 6’3”, 205-pound Kyle caught 88 passes for 1356 yards and 16 touchdowns as a high school senior, and also was the district champion in the 200 meters.

Will Sheppard, freshman: Sheppard’s offer list as a high school senior belied his ridiculous highlight tape; as a senior, he had 62 catches for 1276 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also lettered in basketball and track and like Kyle is a bigger receiver at 6’3” and 190 pounds.