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Vanderbilt Football 2022 Position Preview: Wide Receivers

The receiver room enters 2022 in a bit of flux.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Missouri at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Entering the 2021 season, I thought Vanderbilt’s wide receiver corps was a relative strength for the team. In fact, combined with a quarterback coming off a solid campaign as a true freshman, the passing game figured to be good — limited somewhat by an inexperienced offensive line, but this didn’t seem like a problem.

But of the three receivers who caught 25 or more passes in 2020, one (Cam Johnson) was a bit of a disappointment last season, another (Amir Abdur-Rahman) was really a disappointment, and Chris Pierce... well, he did fine, emerging as the team’s leading receiver in 2021, though he only caught two touchdown passes.

All three are gone for 2022. Pierce ran out of eligibility, while Johnson (Arizona State) and Abdur-Rahman (Ball State) both transferred. Of course, Vanderbilt does return the two receivers who emerged last season, and a couple of promising freshmen enter the fold.

The Frontrunners

Will Sheppard, junior: After showing a brief flash in 2020 with a ridiculous grab against Florida, Sheppard broke out in 2021, catching 43 passes for 577 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns. At 6’3” and 200 pounds, he has good size and should be the favorite target again for whoever emerges as Vanderbilt’s quarterback.

Devin Boddie Jr., redshirt junior: Boddie didn’t play at all in his first two seasons in the program. I’m not sure if injuries played a role in that, but he just didn’t get on the field. That changed in 2021, when he appeared in all 12 games and caught 29 passes for 263 yards with a touchdown. At 5’11” and 180 pounds, he relies more on speed than size and figures to play in the slot. With Johnson gone, he might also be a factor in the return game.

Quincy Skinner Jr., sophomore: Skinner appeared in eight games and didn’t catch a pass; the fact that Clark Lea was apparently okay with burning a redshirt suggests that he won’t be a nonfactor for much longer. A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Skinner will probably get the first look as the third receiver.

Other Returnees

Logan Kyle, redshirt sophomore: Playing time has been there for the taking in Kyle’s two years in the program, so it’s probably not a great sign that he’s only gotten into five games and caught a single pass in the Mississippi State game last season. A good route runner at 6’3” and 209 pounds, Kyle could figure into a thin receiver room this season.

Ezra McAllister, redshirt freshman: McAllister didn’t see any game action in his first year in the program and probably opens fall camp behind the other returnees on the depth chart.

The Freshmen

Jayden McGowan, freshman: The name of the game here is “speed.” At 5’8” and 177 pounds, McGowan, who enrolled early and went through spring ball with the Commodores, isn’t a big target. But he ran the 100 meters in 10.6 seconds in high school in South Carolina. If he’s not a factor in the passing game as a true freshman, he’ll probably make an impact in the return game.

Daveon Walker, freshman: The leading receiver for Georgia’s 5A state champs in high school, Walker has pretty good size at 6’2” and 180 pounds. It’s hard to see him supplanting Will Sheppard, though, so figure on him playing in the maximum of four games and taking a redshirt.