As we begin the month of May out here in Arizona, we're all resigned to the same fate: it's about to get very hot up in here. With everyone headed inside for the next three months, we can now safely look ahead at the 2011 ASU football team and break down the depth chart a little bit.
Today, we will look at the wide receivers, a corps that will play a crucial role in whether or not the Sun Devils will make it back to bowl season for the first time since 2007. We begin with some upperclassmen that you've seen before, and then we'll move on to the "up and coming" players.
Aaron Pflugrad: A redshirt senior, Pflugrad transferred to ASU from Oregon after his sophomore season to play for the Sun Devils. Making his debut in 2010, Pflugrad made 29 catches, picking up 329 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He's a solid third wide receiver, someone who can make a tough catch in open spaces and he also happens to run clean routes.
He was a nonfactor against Arizona in the Territorial Cup game (zero catches), but that might have more to do with QB Brock Osweiler than Pflugrad.
For several more key contributors, including Gerell Robinson, continue reading.
Gerell Robinson: Another senior, Robinson was highly touted when he arrived at Arizona State. A local kid, Robinson came to ASU after graduating from Hamilton High School in Chandler. Robinson also made 29 catches in 2010, earning 387 yards and hitting paydirt five times.
Robinson has had an excellent spring, culminating in a four catch, 65-yard effort in the spring game. He has built rapport with Osweiler and is likely the top wideout on the team after the loss of T.J. Simpson to a torn ACL. If Robinson can make good on his talent, he will be considered a force in the Pac-12.
Mike Willie: Out of nowhere, Willie was a pleasant surprise for ASU last season. Transferring from Cerritos Community College in California, he made 36 catches and scored six touchdowns. He came up big against Oregon, scoring two touchdowns and picking up 74 yards. As far as targets go, Osweiler will bring plenty of passes in this senior's direction.
Now that we've established the top tier of the hierarchy, lets look at some wild cards in the depth chart.
J.J. Holliday: This guy was a special teams beast in 2010, and as a redshirt sophomore should contend for more time on the offensive unit in 2011. Holliday made four catches for 60 yards in the spring game, showing that he is being given a real opportunity by coach Dennis Erickson. By all accounts, he's very fast.
Kyle Middlebrooks: It's hard to tell whether this guy is a wide receiver, a running back, or just a kick returner. He's most famous for his almost touchdown against Wisconsin as time expired in the first half. Just imagine if he made it into the end zone:
So very close.
There are a ton of other players on the depth chart at wide receiver, including George Bell, but realistically these guys will see the most playing time in the early part of the 2011 season. Hopefully they will fit the bill during this potential-filled season.