Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Wide Receiver/Tight End Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Wide Receiver/Tight End Rankings

Air Force

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Wide Receiver/Tight End Rankings

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Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Wide Receiver/Tight End Rankings


Which Mountain West teams have pass catchers with something to prove at the end of spring practice?


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Lots of unknowns make for surprising results.

POSITIONAL DEPTH RANKINGS

OverallQuarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver/Tight End | Offensive Line | Defensive Line | Linebacker | Cornerback/Safety | Kicker/Punter

Note: Italics denote projected starters.

12. Wyoming

High ranking: 8th | Low ranking: 12th

Projected depth: Alex Brown, Wyatt Wieland, Treyton Welch (TE), John Michael Gyllenborg, Jaylen Sargent, Ryan Marquez, Isaac Sell, Will Pelissier

Generally speaking, things didn’t go well when Wyoming tried to pass the ball last season and while some of that falls on the quarterback situation, the Cowboys pass catchers didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. Welch has an argument as the top tight end in the Mountain West headed into 2023, but four different Cowboy wide receivers (Brown, Wieland, Pelissier, and Marquez) had a drop rate above 10% in 2022.

That could explain why newer contributors like Gyllenborg and Sell got a lot of playing time throughout the spring, with the latter emerging as a bright spot in the team’s spring game. There’s no doubt about the reality that this entire group has a lot to prove if Wyoming wants to finally make good on its dark horse credentials.

11. New Mexico

High ranking: 5th | Low ranking: 11th

Projected depth: D.J. Washington, Jeremiah Hixon, Caleb Medford, Magnus Geers (TE), Duece Jones, Luke Wysong, Andrew Erickson, Elijah Queen, Everett Hunter, Ryan Davis

The Lobos passing game struggled badly throughout 2022, but Danny Gonzales hit the transfer portal hard to remake this group for new offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent, pulling in athletes from Alabama State (Hixon), TCU (Washington and Medford), Temple (Geers), and UAB (Davis). Wysong returns after leading the team in receptions while Jones didn’t drop a single target in a limited sample, so if the quarterback situation is more stable this time around, this blank slate could accomplish some big things.

10. Air Force

High ranking in group: 2nd | Low ranking in group: 12th

Projected depth: Dane Kinamon, Brandon Engel, Caleb Rillos (TE), Wyatt Wilson, Tre Roberson, Cade Harris

Judging the Falcons’ pass catchers by normal standards is always tricky, though it may not surprise you to learn that the top three blockers among wide receivers and tight ends all came from Air Force. Losing Kyle Patterson leaves a big hole though a full season from Kinamon, who was slowed by injuries in 2022, will definitely make up for that.

The bigger question is who will emerge as the offense’s necessary big-play threat with both David Cormier and Amari Terry both gone. This would seem to be where newer contributors like Roberson and Harris could make the biggest difference, though don’t be shocked if a cadet not listed here is one who ultimately steps up.

9. Hawaii

High ranking: 3rd | Low ranking: 12th

Projected depth: Jonah Panoke, Jalen Walthall, Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, Nick Cenacle, Koali Nishigaya, Steven McBride

The Warriors outperformed expectations by winning three games in 2022 and this experienced group could be key to doing so again. Three of the four most-targeted players from last year are gone, but Panoke, Walthall, and Mokiao-Atimalala all started multiple games last year and, with the run-and-shoot on its way back, there should be plenty of targets to go around.

Will they have more reliable hands, though? Drops were a major issue for just about everyone in 2022: Ten different Hawaii players had at least ten targets last season and nine of them had a drop rate above 10%.

8. San Diego State

High ranking: 3rd | Low ranking: 12th

Depth chart: Mekhi Shaw, Phillippe Wesley II, Josh Nicholson, Mark Redman (TE), Cameron Harpole, Brionne Penny, Raphael Williams Jr.

It might sound strange to say, but the Aztecs will need to find a way to replace their top two receivers, Jesse Matthews and Tyrell Shavers, after they both benefited from the team’s quarterback switch last midseason. The good news, however, is that Shaw returns after a strong November (16 catches, 216 yards, three touchdowns in four games) to lead a new contingent.

Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted that tight ends could play a bigger role in Ryan Lindley’s offense, a bit of good news for the sure-handed Redman (one drop in 45 targets) and Harpole. Penny has flashed an ability to stretch the field, but the real wild card here is Williams Jr., the Western Carolina transfer who spent most of the last two years as a slot receiver and caught 120 passes in that time. If this unit can hold onto last season’s late gains, SDSU could have its most dangerous passing game in over a decade.

7. Nevada

High ranking: 4th | Low ranking: 11th

Projected depth: Jamaal Bell, Dalevon Campbell, Spencer Curtis, Cooper Shults (TE), Keleki Latu, Gerick Robinson, Carlos Sandy

The raw numbers from 2022 don’t really stand out in this group, but all four of the projected starters got their feet wet in Derek Sage’s offensive system and, if the quarterback situation can stabilize at all, could be much improved as a result.

Bell had a mildly disappointing season after a promising 2021 Quick Lane Bowl performance, posting a 15.2% drop rate, though he did average 5.1 yards after the catch per reception while playing out of the slot 90% of the time. Campbell did his best work in the stretch run (20 catches, 14.5 YPC in last four games) and may be a breakout candidate while transfers like Latu and Robinson will hope to provide useful depth.

6. UNLV

High ranking: 3rd | Low ranking: 11th

Projected depth: Ricky White, Jeff Weimer, Senika McKie, Shelton Zeon III (TE), Jordan Jakes, Jacob De Jesus, Kaleo Ballungay

While replacing the Williamses, Kyle and Nick, will certainly be a challenge for new coordinator Brennan Marion, the Rebels still return a ton of experience here and, given better health at quarterback, could return to the form they displayed last September.

That could mean big things for White, who cooled down after a hot start but led the team in receptions and receiving yards, and Weimer, who missed time with a midseason injury but was plenty busy as the team’s primary slot receiver when on the field (team-high 3.7 receptions per game). De Jesus, a transfer from the junior college ranks, might be worth keeping an eye on after a big spring game, as well. This unit has the goods to make good on a breakthrough if things go their way.

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