Willis Wright set an FIU record last season by averaging 25.3 yards per catch.
That’s a better average than anything posted by T.Y. Hilton, who preceded Wright at Miami Springs High and FIU and is now in the NFL.
Wright is certainly explosive, but he does not have the speed of teammate Glenn Coleman.
“He’s our fastest receiver — hands down,” Wright said of Coleman.
Together, Wright and Coleman are the big hopes for FIU’s passing game during spring practices and also heading into the regular season this fall.
Coleman, a 6-2, 200-pound senior from New Orleans, said his fastest 40-yard-dash time was a 4.48.
He caught 13 passes in 11 games last season — including four starts — and averaged 17.5 yards. He also scored two touchdowns.
Wright caught five touchdown passes, in 12 games, including eight starts.
Coleman said Wright, who had a 25-yard touchdown grab from Jake Medlock in Saturday morning’s scrimmage, has the best hands on the team.
“He’s not very fast,” Coleman said, speaking in relative terms, “but his size makes him dangerous.”
Cameron Turner, FIU’s new quarterbacks/receivers coach, said Wright was “plenty fast” enough.
“There have been a lot of guys who have successful in this offense who run a 4.7 in the 40,” Turner said. “But they run their routes, they’re savvy, and they know how to get open.”
FIU graduated two of its best wide receivers, Wayne Times and Jacob Younger, after last season. Times, a possession-type receiver, led the team with 66 catches but averaged just 9.1 yards per reception. Younger had 25 catches and a 16.2 average.
Coleman figures to step into that void, helping Wright. FIU has not released a depth chart yet this spring, but those two seem to be the only sure bets among a crowded group of 16 wide receivers.
The team is so deep in receivers, in fact, that only one of the recruits they are bringing in this fall is a wideout.
Besides Wright and Coleman, here are some other receivers to watch:
• Jarious Williams, a 6-5, 200-pound senior from Miami Central, is the next most experienced receiver. He had nine catches, one TD and a 13.6 average last season.
• Dominique Rhymes, a 6-4, 210-pound sophomore from Miami Northwestern is the toughest Panther receiver in terms of going over the middle, according to Coleman. “Last year, he wasn’t playing up to his potential,” Coleman said. “Now he’s more aggressive, and he has that big body.”
• Sophomore T.J. Lowder and senior Rocky Vann are two players Coleman said who could challenge him for fastest-receiver honors. Lowder had five catches and a 14.4 average last year.
• Sophomores De’Andre Jasper (Miami Jackson) and Raymond Jackson (New Orleans) are two more to watch. Jasper had four catches, including one for a TD. Jackson is tough over the middle, according to Wright.