Around this time last year, the receiver position remained one of the big questions for Connecticut Huskies.
Luckily for the Huskies, former walk-on Marcus Easley turned in a huge, almost out-of-nowhere senior season, catching 48 balls for 893 yards and eight touchdowns and providing a real deep threat. Now Easley and last year's second-leading pass catcher, Brad Kanuch, are gone. But UConn isn't sweating the receiver position this summer.
Wideout looked like a source of strength this spring, even if no one on the roster had more than 24 catches in 2009.
"I think we have a lot of weapons and we're real explosive," junior Kashif Moore said. "We might not have some of the tallest guys, but I feel like we have a lot of speed."
Moore, whose 370 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season is tops among returners, could emerge as the No. 1 target even though he's just 5-foot-9. He came up with some big plays in the second half of last year, including a touchdown grab in the first overtime at Notre Dame and a highlight-reel, one-handed catch in the Papajohns.com Bowl victory over South Carolina.
UConn coach Randy Edsall said he saw a difference in Moore after Jasper Howard's stabbing death last October. Moore held his close friend as he lay bleeding and waiting for help.
"He has a focus and a mindset," Edsall said. "He's not just playing for himself. He's playing for Jazz."
Isiah Moore, who is not related to Kashif, is another junior who looks ready to take on a bigger role this year. Junior Michael Smith made only 15 catches in 2009 but had an enormous spring game, hauling in five balls for 207 yards and three scores. Those three are slated as starters right now, and each has plenty of speed and run-after-the-catch ability.
None have the big body that Easley brought to the table. But keep an eye on 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman Malik Generett, who showed flashes of his potential this spring.
"He doesn't have the same type of speed that Marcus has, but he can go up and get the ball," Edsall said. "He makes some plays that we haven't seen at this time of year."
And unlike last summer, UConn isn't worried too much about its receiving corps.