James Quick leads newcomers in the receiving core

By on September 1, 2015

Louisville’s offense will have a much different look this season. A younger, less experienced receiver core will no longer look to Devante Parker and Eli Rogers for leadership. The seven returners on the WR staff will have to step up to help implement Coach Bobby Petrino’s system and help usher in the latest Louisville offense.

The Cardinals racked up nine wins last season on the back of many consistent offensive performances. DeVante Parker tied the school record ford career touchdown receptions, snagging 33 in his final season as a Card. During the 2014 season, Parker carried the ball 855 yards on 43 carried, averaging just under 20 19.9) yards per catch. Parker reached all of these records after missing the first six games of last season due to injury.

Louisville will miss Parker and his five 100-yard games, but it will also miss Eli Rogers and his 525 yards and team-leading 45 carries last season, as well as Kai DeLa Cruz and his 303 yards, 26 carries.

With lots of doubt still surrounding the quarterback position, it will be as important as ever for the receiving core to be solid no matter who is throwing the ball. This was the case last season as well, to a degree, and Louisville still had almost 1,000 more receiving yards than its opponents. This was in part a testament to the Cards stout defense (looking at you Gerod Holliman), but also to the deep receiving core. Louisville will look to continue that this season. The man stepping into the leadership role of this WR class, James Quick.

Quick was the team’s third-leading receiver last season with 566 yards on 36 carries. Big games for Quick last year included a 174-yard, two touchdown clinic against Florida international, and 101 yards against Clemson. Quick will need to have a lot more games like that in his junior campaign now that he realizes he’s at the top of the depth chart.

“When I looked up and saw that I didn’t have a DeVante Parker or Eli Rogers in front of me, it really pushed me to motivate myself,” Quick said. “I tell myself I can do just as good as they did. I just want to come out and give it my all and be a leader. To step up and have everybody come to me.”

Quick was cautious headed into his new role, noting that he doesn’t have a lot of leadership experience on the field. He also noted that he wants to model his leadership style after Parker, teammate and friend.

“At first I was nervous with being a leader,” Quick said. “Because I really never had to lead. In high school we had leaders all throughout the team, and my freshman year we had leaders like Teddy Bridgewater. Last year you had DeVante [Parker] and he didn’t really say much, he was just a leader on the field. That was how he took care of his business day to day. And it’s like that with my role, I want everybody to look at me as the guy who is taking care of his business day to day, staying out of trouble and just being the person that I am.”

Quick says he learned from guys like Parker and Rogers in past seasons and carries those lessons into this new leadership role.

“[Parker] is one of my closest friends,” Quick said. “I talk to him every week to see how and what he’s doing. I grew up knowing DeVante, so he’s like a big brother to me. With the young guys, you’ve got to tell them to take a deep breath and relax,” “It’s just football. I tell [the freshman receivers] to go out and do what got you here. Learn your game and don’t worry about anything else.”

Seven guys on the WR squad have never stepped foot on the field in a Louisville uniform. Whether they be transfers or true freshman, younger players make up almost half of the wide receivers. Young guys like Devnte Peete, Emonee Spence and Jaylen Smith will have chances for playing time this year as Louisville looks to replace its lost offensive stars. Quick views his role to these guys as not only as a leader, but a big brother and friend.

“The freshmen come to me,” Quick said. “When they’re down, or homesick, they can come to me because I know what it’s like being a freshman and coming in and not having anybody to talk to. Football becomes hard and I tell them to keep pushing through, everything is going to be ok. Everything will work out and you’ll be fine.”

Wide receiver coach Lamar Thomas spoke on the wide receiver core at media day and when asked to name some of the players who are really stepping up, Thomas wound up naming almost every WR on the roster.

“We’re high on all of these guys,” Thomas said. “We expect them to be players whether it’s today or next year. We expect them to be players. They’re doing a good job of learning on the run. Some of them we might expect to play this year. But it’s going to be on them, if they can handle learning it. We’re not just going to put you out there because you can run fast or run routes. You’ve got to know this system.”

Another new face to keep an eye on is sophomore JaQuay Savage. Savage transferred from Texas A&M and sat out last season. This experience gave him a chance to learn the playbook and system, now the 6’3” 214 athlete gets to put those plays into action.

Jamari Staples will also look to make his mark on this team after transferring from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. UAB ‘s football program was disbanded last December and many teams reached out to Staples, the now junior. In his freshman season at UAB, Staples had five touchdowns and 458 yards, due to injuries he was limited to just 190 yards and one touchdown last season.

One of Staples’ main interests this past off-season was Auburn, who Louisville faces in the 2015 season opener. Staples took an official visit to Auburn’s campus, nd met with coaches and assistants, anticipating an offer that didn’t come. Instead of waiting for Auburn, Staples transferred to Louisville to work with Coach Petrino, as well as offensive coordinator and former UAB coach, Garrick McGee.

Staples’ experiences with Auburn only added fuel to his fire and he has since publicly spoken out about his desire to impact that game and defeat Auburn. Staples also has a countdown on his personal Twitter until “#BeatAuburn”. Look for Staples to make an impact not only in that game, but in many this season.

“We’ve got a lot of different types of bodies out there,” Thomas said. “We’ve got small, big, these kids are playmakers. I think we did a great job of bringing in guys in to add to this. Bringing Staples in, that was a big one for us. We’ve got a lot of weapons.”

Coaches and fans alike have a lot to be excited about, with the diverse types of athletes that are lined up at the receiver spot for Louisvill. With young stars, tremendous transfers and a couple of key returners, all led by veteran James Quick, this receiving core could be the key to Cardinal success in 2015.

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