WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University football team is in its third week of preseason and is working hard toward its season opener at Campbell University on September 9. Throughout the month of August, GUHoyas.com will take an in-depth look at each of the team's position groups, with this edition featuring the wide receivers.
The Blue & Gray will be looking to leadership and experience throughout its entire offense, which lost only two starters from last season. Georgetown will enjoy a deep receiving corps this season, with 12 wide receivers listed on the roster, including six who caught a pass in 2016. While the Hoyas will miss the production of Justin Hill (C'17) - who graduated in GU's top 10 for career receptions (144), receiving yards (1,637) and receiving touchdowns (11) - they bring back three wide receivers who recorded at least 200 receiving yards last season, and four who caught a touchdown pass.
"I have been really impressed with this group and they have really come together," said Assistant Coach John Bear, who is in his first season on the Hilltop working with the wide receivers. "They approach their work every day in a solid manner and come to every practice, looking to get better. We are doing a much better job of the finer details of playing the position. They are doing a great job of being more than just a talented group. Now we are becoming more of a fundamental group and we are really starting to hang our hat on that."
Junior Brandon Williams (Germantown, Md./Northwest) led GU's receiving corps with 397 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Justin Harrell (New Orleans, La./Newman) tied for the team lead with 41 receptions, despite playing in just eight games. He finished with 296 reception yards, averaging 7.2 yards per catch (ypc), and two touchdowns while fellow classmate Jim McLaughlin (Fairfax, Va./WT Woodson) also surpassed 30 receptions, catching 31 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore Michael Dereus (Hyde Park, Mass./Williston Northampton) will see an added role as one of Georgetown's deep threats this season after registering seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, while fifth-year senior Tommy Jesson (Orlando, Fla./East River) and junior Winston Jackson Jr. (North Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) combined for 51 receiving yards in 2016. Senior Luke Morris (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School), who missed last season due to injury, and sophomore Cole Miller (Logansport, Ind./Crown Point/Heritage [Va.]) will both look to contribute to the Hoya offense this fall.
"They are led by the upperclassmen and the seniors have really done a nice job of leading and setting a new attitude for the group," Bear said. "Tommy Jesson has done a really nice job as a fifth-year guy, showing his leadership and maturity. Jim McLaughlin has created the right attitude for our position to be successful. He's tough, dependable and committed and leads our group everyday by example. Michael Dereus has also come to play this fall. He's done a really nice job working on the finer details of the position.
"Luke Morris and Cole Miller have really matured and developed. They don't even look the same as they did in the spring, let alone before they got hurt last fall. It is a neck-and-neck battle with those guys to get on the field right now and push the other returners."
The Hoyas have further bolstered their depth at wide receiver with the addition of junior John Schuster (Newton, Mass./The Middlesex School), as well as freshmen Max Edwards (Germantown, Md./Georgetown Prep), Skyler Springs (Leesburg, Va./Briar Woods) and Dijon Williams (Atlanta, Ga./Miller Grove).
"I am super impressed by the freshmen," Bear said. "They are playing above a freshmen level of football right now across the board. Not only are they talented and gifted kids, but they are humble and doing a really good job of knowing their assignments and where they need to be. They have also shown an advanced IQ in the meeting room."