NAU position preview: Wide receivers

First-year Northern Arizona wide receivers coach Tim Plough has plenty to be excited about for the upcoming season. Plough will have the benefit of working with all of last year’s top three receivers, who accounted for more than half of the Lumberjacks’ total receiving yards.

“Coach Plough has taught us a lot,” said wide receiver Nick Cole. “He really knows what he is doing. We’ve gotten better each day, and I’m ready for the season.”

NAU returns 1,335 yards and 12 touchdowns between returning lettermen Cole, Dejzon Walker and Ify Umodu. Walker led the unit last year with 505 yards, but it was Umodu who had a team-high six receiving touchdowns. Cole added 349 yards on 25 catches.

“I think we have a lot of talented leaders returning,” said Plough. “Whenever you come back from a season with the kind of success NAU had last year, there’s always a lot of excitement, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Senior Jesse Brantley and sophomore Alex Holmes have both impressed during fall camp while competing with Cole, Walker and Umodu for playing time. Brantley caught nine passes for 98 yards and one touchdown last season.

“This is going to be a great season,” said Umodu. “We’re showing a lot of talent. Coach Plough is teaching us from the quarterback’s perspective, which allows us to be able to read the defense better. It’s been an overall growth for us.”

The Lumberjacks will also do their best to work a group of true freshmen into the mix, including Hunter Burton, Marc Cooper, Jarred Ford, Ryshaud Keegan, Jared Sires and Hayden Sovacki.

“The newcomers were thrown into the fire early on due to some minor injuries by the veterans, so they have had a chance to get a lot of reps,” said Plough. “There will be some mistakes at first, but they’ve been coming along really well.

With 12 wide receivers on the roster, this unit will have not only quality but quantity this season.