Not one position group on the Arizona State football team has had as much turnover in the past two years than the wide receivers. Last season, the Sun Devils had to replace Gerrell Robinson, Aaron Pflugrad and Mike Willie. Those three wide receivers combined for 157 catches, 2,517 yards 15 touchdowns in 2011.
Arizona State struggled with consistency at wide receiver all of last season. They were led in receptions and yards by tight end Chris Coyle. Running back Marion Grice led the team in touchdown receptions. Rashad Ross was the team's leading receiver, with 610 yards and six touchdowns.
Ross, along with Jamal Miles graduated this spring. Kevin Ozier returns as the leading receiver, catching 21 passes a year ago for 324 yards. The Arizona State returning wide receivers combined for just 47 receptions in 2012.
Arizona State brought in five wide receiver prospects in its 2013 recruiting class. The most prominent newcomer to the wide receivers is Jaelen Strong. The four-star prospect out of Pierce College in Los Angeles got to the practice field late because of off-the-field issues, however he has stood out on the field.
"He had to learn the system, he didn't know what he was doing, he's only been practicing for five days," said Todd Graham about Strong. "You want to see a quarterback and a guy get a feel for each other, and Taylor and him are starting to get a feel for each other."
Strong took it a step further.
"He's like a big brother to me," Strong said when asked about his relationship with Kelly. "He keeps me up when I get down and he is the reason why I bounced back so fast."
Strong has made a few eye-popping plays at Camp Tontozona. He went up and over Osahon Irabor to snag a long pass along the sideline. Today, Kelly and him hooked up on a long touchdown pass that brought fans to their feet.
Wide Receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander has a good problem. He has a lot of newcomers that are in need coaching but all are showing potential.
"The guys are doing a great job," Alexander said. "We need to focus on the fundamentals and the details each and every snap."
Newcomers Joe Morris and Cameron Smith have been donning no-contact jerseys throughout fall camp. One standout newcomer has been Ellis Jefferson. The big (6-foot-4) receiver from Denton, Texas, has showed good hands and has earned some first team reps.
"Each of the freshman have jumped onto the field and have made some plays," said Alexander. "We have to focus on defensive schemes and what people are trying to do to stop us. That is not necessarily easy when you are dealing with new guys. So we have to take that next step to see what people are trying to do to stop us."
Sophomore Richard Smith is getting first team reps, and expect redshirt-senior Kevin Ozier to be in the mix as well. However, fans should expect to see a lot of new faces catching passes this fall at Sun Devil Stadium.