The Times Free Press is taking a daily positional look at the 2017 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team, leading up to the first practice Monday. Today we look at the wide receivers and tight ends:
Gone are UTC's two most productive receivers from the 2016 season, Xavier Borishade and C.J. Board, who combined for 93 catches and 13 touchdowns, yet the Mocs have a lot returning on the edges. James Stovall, a second-team All-Southern Conference selection, is back, as is Alphonso Stewart, the team's leading returner in total catches. The next wave of players could finally have their breakout year, with four — Dejuan McQuarters, Bingo Morton, Kota Nix and Wil Young — each entering his junior season. The Mocs' two primary tight ends, senior Malcolm Colvin and junior Bailey Lenior, are back, with each having caught a touchdown pass in 2016.
The UTC coaching staff was very active bringing in transfer receivers during the offseason. Junior Joseph Parker played his first two seasons at Wyoming, catching nine passes in that time. Cody Swabek walked on at Louisville, while also competing on the Cardinals' track team, while tight end Gage Upshaw — a Baylor School product — started his college career at Air Force. True freshman receivers Bryce Nunnelly, who played at Walker Valley, Jeffery Wood II and Jordan Ferguson are likely to redshirt, as are true freshman tight ends Juwan Tyus and Parker Mallett. Receiver Zach Pfeifer and tight end Jack Keebler will look for spots in the rotation, coming off redshirt seasons.
The Mocs return five receivers who have played meaningful time in games. Stewart and Stovall are the most experienced, and their big frames will help them make plays. Morton had some key moments in conference play last season, and McQuarters and Young have made plays in key stretches over the past two seasons. That, along with the experience of both Colvin and Lenoir at tight end, will be helpful.
Although McQuarters, Morton and Young have seen action, it hasn't been consistent, as the three combined for 15 catches last year. There is a drop in experience level there. The same could be said for the tight end group, although teams don't typically expect to use their third-stringer at that position. There's no experience there behind Colvin and Lenoir.
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