Coleman, Cannon primed to elevate Baylor receiving tandem tradition

WACO, Texas -- On the fourth play of Baylor’s Friday Night Lights scrimmage, Corey Coleman skied over a pair of hapless defenders to snatch a pass out of the air. As they crashed to the ground, he landed firmly on his feet, then coasted 65 yards for a touchdown.

A few plays later, wingman KD Cannon blew past the secondary across the middle of the field for a 54-yard scoring bomb.

From Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon to Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley, Baylor has showcased several dynamic receiving duos during the Art Briles era, providing the budding powerhouse its claim to Wide Receiver U.

“We’re proud to carry on what they started,” Coleman said.

But as the only returning 1,000-yard receiving tandem in college football, Coleman and Cannon have a chance to do more than just carry on the tradition.

They have an opportunity to elevate it.

“I think their path is still out there to be written,” said offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who recruited both to Baylor. “But there is no doubt those guys are extremely gifted.”

Last year, Cannon arrived in Waco as perhaps the most ballyhooed receiver recruit ever to sign with the Bears, carrying offers from the likes of Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami. He quickly lived up to the recruiting hype. Following early-season injuries to Goodley and Coleman, Cannon seamlessly took over as the go-to receiver, and actually led the country in receiving through the first month of the season. When Goodley and Coleman returned, Cannon settled in as a deadly third wheel out of the slot. He gashed TCU for 124 yards and a touchdown. Then in the Cotton Bowl, he topped all receivers with 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“KD is extremely explosive,” Kendal Briles said. “He’s probably the fastest receiver we’ve ever had that catches the ball that well. That’s saying something, because we’ve had some guys that can fly.”

Though not quite as fast as Cannon, Coleman can also fly. He also has the versatility to overpower smaller cornerbacks downfield, as well.

Oklahoma learned that the hard way last year.

In the second quarter, Coleman maneuvered through the Sooner defense for back-to-back receptions of 18 and 33 yards, the second resulting in a touchdown over two defenders.

On the first series of the second half, Oklahoma countered by playing 10 yards off Coleman. But that led to a series of easy catches underneath for Coleman, which produced another touchdown and ignited the Baylor rout. Coleman ended the game with 15 receptions and 224 receiving yards, the most a Sooner defense had ever allowed to one player.

“The whole offense feeds off Corey, his mentality,” said Cannon, who will be rooming with Coleman this fall. “When he makes a play, it makes the rest of us feel like we’re going to win. He’s the tone-setter, that’s how he is.”

Despite playing in a league with All-Americans Kevin White and Tyler Lockett, Coleman was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year. Now with White and Lockett gone, he is the premier wideout in the league.

Coleman, however, wants to be more.

“Corey is one of the hardest workers on a daily basis that we’ve had to be that talented,” Kendal Briles said. “A lot of times guys extremely talented don’t want to work that hard. He knows what he wants, and he’s going to do everything he can to get it. He wants to be an NFL receiver, he wants to be an All-American, he wants to win championships, and he’s not afraid to tell you that.

“Corey is pretty special.”

So are Coleman and Cannon together, which is one major reason why Baylor figures to be a load again offensively despite graduating quarterback Bryce Petty.

“With two guys on the field like me and KD, it’s hard for [defenses] to cover both of us,” Coleman said. “So somebody is going to have a big game -- or we’re both going to have a big game.

"I'm just excited to see what this year brings for both of us."