Not many pass catchers return from last season, but talent abounds at the receiver position.
The Wildcats have three strong leaders returning and a host of youthful talent this season at receiver. The tight end position is a strength, with several tall players who can catch passes and block efficiently.
Under first-year Receivers Coach Rodney Gallaway, the wideouts and tight ends will hope to power a prolific passing game.
Alec and Jack attack
Alec LaSpina and Jack Dunstan will likely line up as starters at wideout to open the 2020 season.
LaSpina and Dunstan are the lone Wildcats to tally a reception with the varsity squad in 2019. LaSpina hauled in a 63-yard bomb for a touchdown in the Archbishop Hoban game, while Dunstan brought in 11 receptions for 129 yards in seven games.
At 6'0, 177 pounds, LaSpina can race by cornerbacks with his nice speed. He's also showed off sure hands during camp, catching some impressive passes.
Standing at 5'11, 160 pounds, Dunstan is a bit shorter but no less talented. The St. Raphael grad has demonstrated good separation and athleticism during practice.
Senior John Becker is back and ready to make an impact for the Wildcats.
Becker grew in the offseason, as he now stands at 6'1, 170 pounds. His frame and speed will help him create separation and box out smaller defenders.
Becker looks primed to be a key contributor in 2020 for the Wildcats. He didn't catch any passes last season, but he's shown pose and potential during camp so far.
Lamirand the leader
Recently selected as the team's third captain, Nick Lamirand will be a huge contributor at tight end.
Lamirand worked incredibly hard in the offseason and the results are showing. The fellow St. Raphael grad is filling out, now measuring at 6'5, 220 pounds. And it's likely that he's not done growing, so his best work is yet to come.
Lamirand did not catch any passes last season, but he's got sure hands that will make him a weapon on passing downs. He's also got the strength to contribute good blocks on running downs.
Veterans in the slot
The Wildcats have no lack of speedy slot receivers.
These guys are underrated but not undervalued. Gallaway recognizes their importance and will use them this season.
Mike Morgan, Steve Bodamer, Pat Kotek, Jonathan McNeil, and Charlie Spurrier are among the returning wideouts who could figure into the mix at slot. All are talented and will help in some way. Morgan has been getting looks on returns and Bodamer is a speedster who will work his way onto the field.
"All of our seniors are contributing one way or another," Gallaway says. "They've put a lot of effort in to get to this point. I'm happy with the way they've prepared."
One senior who's impressed many with his work ethic is Colin Wiehn. A natural lefty quarterback, Wiehn transitioned to wide receiver during the offseason.
It's a transition he's managed well, and as a result, he could see some significant time. He's worked hard outside of practice with quarterback Jaxon French to improve his technique and develop a sense of timing with the junior.
Young tight ends to watch
Lamirand will have some help at tight end, should he need it.
Juniors Pat Tompkins and Sean Ward have impressed in camp after strong sophomore seasons with the JV team in 2019.
Both possess plenty of size. Tompkins checks in at 6'3, 185 pounds, while Wards measures at 6'4, 230 pounds. The two St. Mark's grads have shown good catching ability and both have the size and technique necessary to be good blockers.
Should they continue to impress, you may see some double tight end formations from the Wildcats.
While Gallaway is a first-year varsity coach, he's no stranger to fans of the Blue and Gold.
Gallaway joined the coaching staff in 2008, and spent the last 12 seasons as the head coach of the freshmen squad. So he certainly knows what he's doing. The Loudonville native also has a good familiarity with the Wildcats' receivers, having coached them as freshmen.
Overall, his general philosophy with his charges is to keep things simple.
"The hard work will surpass the talent. Do the little things right," Gallaway says. "We do a lot of drills that are simple and basic but those add up to being a solid receiver and getting good separation, get catches, and score."
Gallaway is pumped to coach up his wideouts. With more time to coach a smaller group, he believes the results will be great.
"The coolest thing is being able to focus on 30 guys and their development, and just one position," Gallaway says. "Shedding some of that administrative work is nice and refreshing after 12 years of doing it the other way. It's exciting to watch these seniors perform and get the opportunity to do it. That's what I'm most excited about – getting them out there and helping them shine."