One year ago, there were numerous questions being asked of the Hoosier receiving core. Injuries and graduation had left Simmie Cobbs, who caught 7 passes for 114 yards in 2014, as the top returning receiver.
This fall, the Hoosiers have nothing to be concerned about.
Cobbs stepped up with 60 catches for 1,035 yards while Ricky Jones caught 54 passes for 906 yards. In the slot, Mitchell Paige became both a security blanket and a folk hero amongst Hoosier faithful by catching 57 passes for 684 yards and a team-best six touchdowns.
All three return in 2016, which helps lessen the impact of the recent injury to J-Shun Harris that will keep him out for the season.
More importantly, with a new quarterback at the helm, having an abundance of weapons around him will only make the integration process much simpler.
Simmie Cobbs - Last season, Simmie Cobbs joined fairly elite company in Indiana history by clearing the 1,000-yard mark. Only four Hoosiers since 1994 have had 1,000-yards receiving - Cobbs, Cody Latimer (2013), James Hardy (2007) and Courtney Roby (2002).
For Cobbs, the challenge this season is to match the output of last year. Should he cross the 1,000-yard mark again this season, he’d be the first Hoosier to do so twice in his career.
Ricky Jones - For all the headlines Cobbs may have taken last season, Jones was nearly as good, finishing with 906 yards last year. Unlike Cobbs, Jones started the season hot before fading a bit at the end, catching no TDs over the final five games with his best game coming against Duke where he finished with 89 yards.
Nonetheless, Jones will again be a focal point of the offense and, with Cobbs, gives the Hoosiers their best 1-2 punch out wide since possibly Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher.
Mitchell Paige - Paige’s success last year was part of what made IU’s offensive attack last year. As a slot receiver of the mold of Wes Welker, Paige’s route-running, ability to create separation and willingness to go across the middle added another depth to the Hoosier attack.
While Cobbs and Jones might be more talented, Paige is undoubtedly the most important wide receiver of the three and if he can play at the level he did last season, the Hoosiers will remaining a dangerous team through the air.
Names to Know
Marqui Hawkins - One of the few things the Hoosiers lack in the passing game is height. At 6’2”, Hawkins is one of the tallest receivers on the roster. Last season, Hawkins saw action in a handful of games while also being named a four-time scout team Player of the Week.
Nick Westbrook - Like Hawkins, Westbrook has the build the Hoosiers lack in their starters. Westbrook and Hawkins could both see time in redzone packages as larger targets to aim at.
Isaac Griffith - A redshirt freshman, Griffith caught five passes in the three games he saw action in before redshirting. Could be a nice depth guy this season.
Luke Timian - Timian is a redshirt sophomore who fans might remember for catching a touchdown pass in the Pinstripe Bowl (where the kick was good). Another depth guy for the Hoosiers.
Kiante Enis - Enis, a freshman, is technically a running back, but has seen some time in the slot this fall. Once a Michigan commit, Enis is certainly talented and if Wilson is looking for ways to get him on the field, that has to be a good sign.
Jonah Morris - It’s hard to see a freshman getting much playing time in the receiving department, but Morris was the top-ranked recruit as an athlete in last year’s recruiting class.
Amongst the starters, perhaps no position on this year’s Hoosiers team has more talent. Cobbs, Jones and Paige give IU one of it’s best receiving cores possibly in the Kevin Wilson era. With Lagow the leader in the clubhouse to take the quarterback position, you can look forward to the same gun-slinging offense of year’s past.