Wideouts ready to fill the void


Greg Herd (left), Nicholas Edwards (center) and Brandon Kaufman combined to catch 601 passes for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns in their EWU careers.

Greg Herd (left), Nicholas Edwards (center) and Brandon Kaufman combined to catch 601 passes for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns in their EWU careers.
Greg Herd (left), Nicholas Edwards (center) and Brandon Kaufman combined to catch 601 passes for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns in their EWU careers.

By Peter Sowards


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What Eastern’s new-look receiving corps lacks in production, they make up for with confidence.

Wide receiver Cory Mitchell, a redshirt junior with 23 career catches, has heard all the questions about how the Eagles are going to fill the void left by the departures of “The Big Three.” Frankly, he’s heard enough. “I know everyone’s been questioning how we’re going to replace the receivers that we had,” Mitchell said with a note of defiance. “But we’re going to be good.”

The numbers don’t lie; Brandon Kaufman, Greg Herd and Nicholas Edwards combined to catch 601 balls for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns in their storied careers donning the red and white. At the other end of the spectrum, EWU’s current receiving corps has a combined total of just 120 catches and 1,415 receiving yards on their résumés.

Redshirt senior Ashton Clark is responsible for the majority of those numbers, having caught 83 passes for 1,091 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. “We got so many guys out here,” Clark said. “Not only is it my turn to step up, but it’s a lot of other guys’ turns to step up and show that we can put together another strong group and be a great receiving corps just like we were last year.”

“This is his group,” receivers coach Junior Adams said, referring to Clark’s seniority and leadership. “I remember two years ago, he was in the same situation as a lot of these guys were, but he never even touched the field. But he gets his first catch, and first touchdown against Washington, and since then the maturation process has just been on a steady incline. He works at it. I always talk about, ‘Be a pro, attack it like a pro,’ and he exemplifies that.”

One of the guys looking to step up and be a difference-maker in 2013 is Cooper Kupp, a redshirt freshman from Yakima, Wash., who boasts a 6-foot-2-inch frame and breakaway speed. Adams raved about all the receivers on the roster but took an extra moment to praise Kupp’s ability. “He’s going to be awesome,” Adams said.

Kupp said being at a place like Eastern brings out the best in him because he faces top-level talent every day. “You want to go against the best to be the best,” Kupp said. “You’re basically going against what I think are some of the best players in the league. It definitely helps.”

Camaraderie within the receiving corps has forged a bond within the group; a bond that makes itself evident once the pads get strapped on. “All of us are really good friends with each other, and we know that we all have something we can contribute to this team,” Kupp said. “It’s not really about competing against each other; it’s just going out and each day being the best you you can be. Coaches know that each of us brings something a little different.”

While each receiver brings something different, the same word keeps popping up when talking to coaches and players about the receiving corps: speed. “We’re going to try to stretch the field with our speed,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to be great at making people miss, getting to the next level [and] beating people deep.”

Every receiver on the roster has redshirted, and coach Beau Baldwin said that extra year of experience helps immensely to learn the playbook. “Sometimes [with] certain positions or players, you don’t have that luxury — they got to play right away as freshmen and that’s just going to help the team in that year. But with this crew, every one of them was able to redshirt at one time or another. They’re that much further along within what we’re doing.”

Players need confidence to be able to perform at the best of their abilities, and it appears as if that confidence has spilled over to the coaches, especially Adams. “Trust me,” Adams said. “We’re going to be just fine.”



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