Honesty hour: I came into this article at first trying to crown a receiver to follow the legendary footsteps of Antonio Brown, Bryan Anderson, and Titus Davis. Further research into answering such a question brought up a serious problem; there's a lot of questions surrounding this young and thus far, relatively unproven receiving corps.
With Titus Davis accounting for the vast majority of the Chippewa receiving yards last season, there is a lot of doubt surrounding any secondary receiver not named Jesse Kroll, and for good reason. Davis made up 49% of CMU's receiving touchdowns and blasted the second-best receiver (Kroll) by 398 yards... despite missing parts of three games due to a freak injury in week one. So where is the offense going to come from for the Chippewas?
The returning receivers are Jesse Kroll (36 rec., 582 yards, 4 TD's,) Anthony Rice (30 rec., 321 yards, 1 TD,) Corey Willis (7 rec., 70 yards, 0 TD's,) and Mark Chapman (1 rec., 9 yards, 0 TD's.) Joining them in the 2015 campaign will be receivers Jamil Sabbaugh, a converted HS Safety, Damon Terry, tight end Austin Ervin, and Michigan-Ohio HS Border War MVP (and HS quarterback) Brandon Childress. Kroll was a major downgrade at primary receiver, contributing zero touchdowns and 154 yards over those three games Davis was out, though it should be noted that he faced a tough non-conference schedule against Purdue, Kansas, and Syracuse. However, he was an effective secondary receiver that had good hands and a decent YAC rate, averaging 16.2 YAC. Rice's highlight play was a 65-yard blazing of the Boilermaker defense, but he averaged 24 yards a game outside of that Purdue game, where he had 2 receptions for 66 yards. Willis and Chapman are very young at their position and didn't see a lot of playing time.
With that being said, there is a lot of room for growth. Reps at the starting positions and playing time could really help the development of a young receiving corps. Kroll is an excellent possession receiver, and should serve as a security blanket for Cooper Rush in Davis' absence. Rice and Willis have both proven to be speedsters with a good first step, and with an up-tempo offense that should predicate on sharing the ball, the secondary receivers should see the ball more under Coach Bono's offensive gameplan. Willis adapted to the gameplan very well, with 100+ yards in the spring game. Childress showed explosion and field vision that makes him the most likely candidate to replace Davis, but that will require adjustment to the college game and time on the field; the off-season will be very important for Childress.
Time will tell if the next Antonio Brown or Titus Davis is on the roster, and time will also tell us what Coach Bono's offense is all about. With so many variables swirling around the football program in Mt. Pleasant, it's very difficult to forecast how players will develop, but one thing is for sure: it will be interesting to see what the results will be.