The question of who is going to be seen out on the field as our wide receivers when the offense gets the ball against Villanova in the first game of the year is on everyone’s mind. It’s an important question.
Most times in college ball your see a set up that has basically two wide receivers split out; one, the WR1 spot, A lot of times he’ll be what is called the “Split End” on the weakside of the formation (away from the TE).
The other, or WR2, will be what we call the “Flanker” on the side the TE is on and he is usually a possession receiver, but not always.
One will be the more exciting, speedy guy who can get open on the deep intermediate and longer throws. The other will run shorter routes to get open and has the good hands – a sure bet as a completion as it were. They are valuable on 3rd down when you need to get a minimum amount of yards.
To excel as a receiver, a player must
Have nimble hands (hands that are very good at catching the ball).
Have the ability to concentrate under defensive duress.
Be courageous under fire and strong enough to withstand physical punishment.
- Be named Zach Challingsworth
In 2015 both Boyd and Dontez Ford rotated in and out of those positions but looking back at film it seemed that Boyd was split out most of the time and Ford was kept in tighter to the ball.
This year we are pretty sure that WR Dontez Ford will be in that prime WR1 slot with either rsJR Jester Weah or rsJR Zach Challingsworth opposite him. We have discussed Jester Weah at length on here and he’d been the topic of conversation in other media so I want look more at Challingsworth’s background.
Another blog, Pittsburgh Sports Now asks five questions one of which is about the reciver opposite Ford:
Wide Receiver – Senior Dontez Ford will be one starter for Matt Canada, but who will take the spot of former Pitt great and current Cincinnati Bengal Tyler Boyd? The battle will likely come down to Zach Challingsworth vs. Quadree Henderson. Considering the different things that he can do, Henderson might have the slight advantage.
Now this is interesting because the ‘official’ pre-camp two-deep listing Pitt put out listed Jester Weah as that WR2 receiver and Challingsworth and Henderson being in line for a third spot. That will sure be a position to watch in the fall and I think it is the key to how the offense will run this season.
His high school accomplishments read like a lot of other college D1 players – when you first look at them you are singularly impressed but then you realize all the kids on the roster were stars in High school. But his accomplishments do jump out at you:
Selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22″…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25″…rated one of the top 35 prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…averaged 20.5 yards per catch as a senior, compiling 58 receptions for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns…
So he was good in HS. Why so long to get any sort of playing time at Pitt then?. He redshirted the first year here so that left his rsFR and rsSO years to get on the field. His recruitment wasn’t exceptional and suffice to say it was like many other Paul Chryst recruits in that he was a 3* player and Pitt was his best offer.
He was basically two-blocked by the older receivers who already had some experience. Boyd, Holtz, Garner, Weatherspoon and Ibrahim all had double digit receptions and kept him on the bench.
Last season though, as a rsSO he did find the field and played well when called upon. He played in 10 games last year and started against YSU, GT, SYR and Louisville. He produced in eight of those games as seen here:
Not a ton of production but again he was playing behind Boyd, Holtz, Ford Orndoff and Ollison catching passes out of the backfield. Take away Boyd and Holtz and there’s a bigger opportunity for him to get the ball this season.
I know that when I saw Challingsworth in practices back in 2013 I though he;d get a starting job sometime in his career and what struck me then is that he has some speed to him as a 4,5 40 yard guy. That’s not too shabby for someone who when people look at him the see possession receiver.
The question with Challingsworth isn’t whether he’ll see the ball, he will, but how much playing time is he going to get.
Every year we Pitt fans here we are going to multiple WR sets; three TE sets, no RB sets, etc… yet the vast majority of the plays called are standard formation where if we have a FB we’ll see a TE and two WRs. If we drop the FB we’ll see another WR for three at a time with a TE. Of course there are many iterations after that but that is basically what we’ll see – either two or
Either way, regardless of where Jester Weah is on that pre-camp two deep I think we see Challingsworth starting and playing the majority of snaps in the offense. For one thing he’s a good downfield blocker and when you’re throwing to backs coming out of the backfield, to the TEs or in the short passing game those WR block can make or break the size of yards after the catch.
I think we’ll see a lot of him and as a teaser here is that Duke game where he and Dontez Ford (Ebony and Ivory) did so well…
Note: I may have to miss the interview sessions – just found out an old friend died over the weekend and his service is going on while I’ll be in PGH. I’ll try to get there and have your questions… ask more and I’ll take all of them up with me.