Shelton Gibson – Redshirt Sophomore; 5-11; 188 pounds; Cleveland, OH
Jovon Durante – Freshman; 6-1; 180; Miami, FL
Daikiel Shorts – Junior; 6-1; 200; Clayton, NJ
J. Johnson – Redshirt Junior; 6-1; 212 pounds; Woodruff, SC
Derek Keaton – Redshirt Senior; 5-10; 180 pounds; Camden, AK
Ryan Longoria – Senior; 6-2; 195 pounds; Hacienda Heights, CA
While both West Virginia and Georgia Southern have depth at the receiver position, these three players for each team are expected to be the ‘key’ contributors on September 5 in Morgantown.
For the Mountaineers, Shelton Gibson, although he’s entering just his second season of playing time, has loads of experience and knowledge after sitting behind Kevin White and Mario Alford for two years. Gibson finished off 2014-15 with just four receptions for 60 yards, but is expected to have a breakout season this year.
According to wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway, veteran Jordan Thompson will also receive lots of playing time on the inside.
“Jovon (Durante) and Shelton (Gibson) have been going first, but for the most part, they all have been receiving reps with the first string,” said Galloway in a press-release. “Whoever is hot will stay. Obviously, Squirt (Jordan Thompson) and Daikiel (Shorts Jr.) will be on the inside, so that’s not going to change. On the outside, we will have to wait and see.”
As for Durante, the anticipation to see a true freshman starting for the Mountaineers is growing daily. Out of Miramar High School, Durante finished his senior season with 11 catches for 221 yards, with an average of 20.4 yards per catch and four touchdowns. He was one of the most highly recruited players in the nation, and West Virginia won the prize.
“A bunch of people are making a big deal about him being the starter,” said Dana Holgorson on Durante. “And I am proud of him. He has made some pretty good plays and he has bundles of potential. Until it happens in a game, I am going to reserve the right to sit here and brag about him.”
Junior Daikiel Shorts ended last season with 24 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia Southern wide receiver coach Matt Barrett says expectations for the Eagles receiving corps are extremely high. While the Eagles mostly rely on their run game, they have substantial talent at receiver as well.
“B.J. Johnson is a guy with tremendous ball skills, strength and competitiveness,” said Barret, per gseagles.com. “He’s had a great fall camp. Derek Keaton played a lot last year – played well – and had a tremendous spring. He has continued that into fall camp. Myles Campbell is a great competitor who has made a ton of plays in fall camp. Ryan Longoria has done a nice job coming back off an injury and has had a really good fall camp.”
B.J. Johnson finished the 2014-15 season leading the Eagles with 23 catches for 312 yards and five touchdowns. Keaton saw most of his playing time last year as a return specialist. However, he’ll be seeing more time on the offense this year beginning with West Virginia. He caught just five passes as a junior.
Lastly, senior Ryan Longoria will start against the Mountaineers as the X receiver. According to gseagles.com, he caught just one pass last year after transferring to Georgia Southern as a junior, but will be a key offensive threat for the Eagles passing game in 2015-16.
West Virginia’s season opener against the Georgia Southern Eagles is just four days away. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 5.
Georgia Southern statistics and coaches quotes in this article originated from gseagles.com.
Other quotes courtesy WVU Athletic Communications.