Updated: Aug 10, 2019
As we get ready to begin fall camp, it’s time for us one of the Heel Tough Blog’s exclusive in-depth position previews. The series will take a look at every player on the Tar Heels 2019 roster and tell you the impact we expect each to have and give you the projected depth chart position-by-position. We continue with a look at the Tar Heels 2019 wide receiving unit.
With Anthony Ratliff-Williams departed early for the NFL, the Tar Heels are in search of a new No. 1 receiving option for the new “air raid” offense. Junior slot Dazz Newsome seems to fit that mold pretty well and spring ball seemed to show this theory to be true. For starters, the scheme is set up for slot receivers to succeed with the focus being to get to green grass and getting the ball out quickly. DaMarkus Lodge starred in the role in each of Phil Longo’s two seasons on campus, but he had more proven help around him than Newsome will have this season. Still, Newsome is the Tar Heels top returning receiver (44 rec, 506 yds, 2 TD) from an offense that was limited by its quarterback play a year ago. The flashes that he has shown at times over the last two seasons are enough to suggest that Newsome has all the tools necessary to become what Lodge was in this offense.
Sophomore Dyami Brown is poised for a breakout season for Tar Heels after being overshadowed a bit as a freshman. Brown received rave reviews during spring ball and has apparently been one of the best players in the first few days of fall camp according to some team sources. With an offense that won’t be limited by its quarterback's arm strength, Brown will have the chance to run deeper routes, an area where he saw a lot of success at the high school level. Don’t let him fool you, though, as he is more than just a speed receiver. Brown is a technical route runner and has the ability to get open, something that will allow him to thrive in this new offense. 2019 may very well be a breakout season for a receiver that will in an offense that produced back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons in Longo’s time at Ole Miss.
Another receiver that many are looking to for a possible breakout season is junior Beau Corrales. In his first two seasons, Corrales has shown flashes, but has not yet been able to establish himself as a consistent threat from week-to-week. Corrales has the best ability on the team to go up and get the football, and with tight end Brandon Fritts on the shelf again due to an ACL tear, he will be counted on to give Longo the one thing that he did not have at Ole Miss: a consistent redzone threat. Corrales is set up nicely for a breakout season of his own if that consistency can be developed.
Junior Toe Groves will play a sizable role on this receiving with his ability to play in the slot or on the outside. Groves is another Tar Heel receiver that fits this offense well and has the speed to cause issues for opposing secondaries no matter where he lines up. Staying healthy will be the key again for him following his first full season after two patellar tendon tears in his first two seasons on campus. This is as healthy as Groves has been in his college career, so the expectation is that he will improve on his sophomore year numbers (10 rec, 183 yds, TD).
Speaking of injuries, sophomore Antoine Green is a full participant in fall camp after a gruesome ankle shut his season down after just six games. Green may have only caught four passes in his five games, but was having a strong performance in the game against the Orange prior to the injury. Green has the hands and catch radius to be effective, but it will take him some time to be back to 100%. When he gets there, expect him to push for a rotational role as an outside receiver.
Junior Roscoe Johnson is a bit of a wild card after a quiet start to his Tar Heel career. Johnson’s sophomore numbers (3 rec, 28 yds, 0 TD) were a drop off from his freshman season, but there may be more opportunity this season as a junior. Johnson has 4.4 speed and in high school was able to become a consistent deep threat. Like Groves, he can play in the slot or outside, which means more opportunity. It’s hard to see Johnson developing in much more than a rotational option for the Tar Heels, but he will be counted on if injuries happen in front of him.
The wild card for the Heels at wide receiver is converted cornerback Corey Bell Jr.. The graduate senior, who converted early in spring camp, was a standout in the spring after the moved, capped by a phenomenal spring game, where he led the team in receiving. If Bell Jr. can build on what he showed in spring, he has a real chance to see a significant amount of reps this season in the Tar Heel offense.
The only other returning scholarship receiver is sophomore J.T. Cauthen. After a brief stint away from the team last offseason, Cauthen returned, but would only appear one game. Still, he stuck it out through the coaching change and will continue to battle for playing time as we head into the fall. Barring something unforeseen, Cauthen will once again handle a minimal role at wide receiver for the Tar Heels offensively.
Four true freshmen will vie for playing time in the 2019 season. Early enrollee Emery Simmons had a solid spring with the team and has the edge over the other three freshmen when it comes to the understanding of the offense. Simmons is a great route runner and his ability to catch anything thrown his way could allow him to see some time early with a lot of four and five receiver sets expected in the new offense.
Khafre Brown is a track speed type of guy who can make things happen before and after the catch. Like his brother, who unlike him was an early enrollee, there could be some freshman bumps in the road, but Brown has the talent necessary to make a push for playing time as a true freshman.
Justin Olson was late offer in the early signing period for Mack Brown and the staff and this is a guy that reminds a lot of people a guy many think would have had plenty of success in this offensive scheme, Ryan Switzer. Olson has a bigger frame than Switzer, but similar to him, catch most everything thrown his way and could also get an early look on special teams.
The player that seems to be forgotten about in this class is Welton Spottsville. The slot receiver stayed committed to the Tar Heels through the coaching transition and is another player whose speed is his best asset. It will like take Spottsville some time to nudge his way into a significant role, but this is not a name that can discount.
One former walk-on has earned a scholarship for the 2019 season. Sophomore Austyn Chestnut appeared in two games a year ago and showed the staff enough to earn a scholarship over the offseason. Chestnut will battle for playing in the slot with a talented group of freshmen, but injuries will have to occur in front of him in order for him to see significant playing time.
Seven walk-on’s will also be a part of the roster for the Tar Heels in the 2019 season. They include sophomores Austin Chrismon and Mason Laurence, redshirt freshmen Carson Burgess, Gray Goodwyn and Nick Quigley and true freshmen Will Crowley and Jeffrey Saturday, the latter two of which are Tar Heel legacies.
Projected Depth Chart
# 2 Dyami Brown, So.
# 3 Antoine Green, So.
#11 Roscoe Johnson, Jr.
#83 Justin Olson, Fr.
#28 Austin Chrismon, So.
#35 Carson Burgess, RFr.
#42 Nick Quigley, RFr.
# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.
# 9 Corey Bell Jr., Sr.
# 1 Khafre Brown, Fr.
#17 Welton Spottsville, Fr.
#19 Austyn Chestnut, So.
#89 Gray Goodwyn, RFr.
#15 Beau Corrales, Jr.
# 4 Toe Groves, Jr.
#14 Emery Simmons, Fr.
#18 J.T. Cauthen, So.
#32 Mason Laurence, So.
#81 Will Crowley, Fr.
#29 Jeffrey Saturday, Fr.