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2019 Akron Zips Football Positional Preview: wide receivers

The receiving corps for the Zips could have some success in Tom Arth’s first year at the helm.

Akron v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Despite the lack of production on offense in 2018, the receivers for the Akron Zips should be poised for a breakout season in 2019 as Tom Arth’s program is transitioning to more of an Air Raid offensive attack. The receiving corps didn’t necessarily have a bad year last season (top returner Andre Williams was ninth in the MAC with 59 receiving yards per game on just 46 receptions), but the talent that was there was just not utilized. The Zips were almost 50-50 in run-pass ratio (390 rushes and 374 passes) despite averaging 2.9 yards per carry and complete 50% of all passes. The good news is that UA brings a lot of talent back and they’ll have some opportunities to contribute to a winning effort.

Key Departures

  • Kwaddarius Smith
  • Mykel Traylor-Bennett

Key Returnees

  • Andre Williams
  • Jonah Morris
  • Nate Stewart
  • Jeremiah Knight

Andre Williams (Winter Park HS/Orlando, Florida)

  • 2018 statistics: 46 receptions, 649 yards, 6 TD
  • Career stats: 50 receptions, 719 yards, 6 TD

The 5’10”, 185-pound junior was one of the few bright spots in Akron’s offense in 2018. He made an impact in the big games for the Zips as he averaged five catches per game and 19.1 yards per reception against Northwestern, Kent State, and Northern Illinois. However, Williams caught a little over half of his targets (46 catches to 87 targets), which is something that can’t happen with your WR1. Despite this, an explosive player like Williams should thrive in Arth’s offense, a scheme that emphasizes getting players catch-able balls in space.

Jonah Morris (Hoban HS/Indiana/Akron, Ohio)

  • 2018 statistics: 26 receptions, 381 yards, TD
  • Career statistics: 26 receptions, 381 yards, TD

Morris, the six-foot-four former Indiana commit, had a solid first year of production at Akron as he was third on the team in targets (56), catches, receiving yards, and scores. He showed flashes of what he could be against elite competition in 2018 as he hauled in three catches for 51 yards against Northwestern and three receptions for 38 yards against South Carolina. However, the low catch rate of 46.4% needs to be improved if the Zips are going to have an effective passing game in Arth’s first year.

Nate Stewart (Pius X HS/Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

  • 2018 statistics: 22 receptions, 280 yards, TD
  • Career statistics: 25 receptions, 325 yards, TD

Despite only getting 36 targets in 2018, Stewart (who wasn’t even rated as a prospect coming out of high school) made the most of his opportunities with half of his catches and his score coming in MAC play. His catch rate of 61.1% is the highest among returning starters for Akron, so it’ll be interesting to see what Stewart can do with an increased workload in 2019. He’ll have to fend off fellow up-and-coming WR Jeremiah Knight in spring ball and fall camp, as Knight posted 129 yards on nine catches and 13 targets as a freshman in 2018.

Other Rostered WRs

  • Daishawn Brimage, sophomore (East HS/Akron, Ohio): Brought in three catches for 33 yards in 2018, had two receptions for 32 yards in his first start at South Carolina, also played safety at East HS.
  • M.J. McGriff, junior (Vero Beach HS/Illinois/Vero Beach, Florida): Hauled in a four-yard reception against South Carolina, transferred from Illinois, a two-time first-team All-State honoree in Florida.