Position Preview: Wide Receiver
(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)
The Jackrabbit receiver room is losing a four time All-American but this may be the deepest the unit has ever been. The Jacks return five guys who have played plenty of snaps and are joined by five red shirt freshmen who, by all accounts, had outstanding freshmen seasons getting stronger and learning the offense. Competition will be fierce for reps and certain players may a small but very important role for the offense. The Jackrabbit receiver room is a fun place to be right now according to Robert Arnheim who is entering his 3rd year as the receivers coach. Arnheim stressed that the room takes pride in their role in the offense, which includes run blocking. The group possesses a lot of versatility and guys can move between the different spots.
#1 Jacob Brown (5-11, 195) started for much of 2017 as the receiver opposite Jake Wieneke. Now a junior, he will be counted on to take the next step after catching 18 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brown is a physical receiver who is not afraid to fight for the ball and absorb a hit from the defender. Arnheim also credited Brown with excellent downfield blocker. One thing about Brown that Arnheim says goes unnoticed is his transition and growth from high school to now entering his junior season. Again, he's unselfish and a hard worker which helps sett he tone for the room.
#80 Adam Anderson (6-1, 200) had a great start to 2017 with a big game against Duquesne (3 rec and 81 yards). After that, he battled through injuries and only caught four more balls the rest of the season. Adam runs good routes and has good hands. Adam has moved to the "X" receiver position which is the boundary position. Arnheim said that Adam has really grown in the system and that he gives great effort and continues to do what is asked of him. He wants to get better and asks lots of questions. He had a good spring and summer and is being counted on to take a big step forward.
#11 Marquise Lewis (5-11, 180) is yet another junior wide receiver who has spent most of his career working out of the slot. Lewis had a bit of a breakout season from the slot catching 20 passes for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns. Lewis is a tough player who is not afraid to cross the middle of the field. He also showed off his speed making some fun run-and-catch plays. Arnheim credits Lewis for being a great mentor to the younger receivers. It is hard to believe that he is only a junior as it feels like he has been around forever and has made plays every year.
#15 Cade Johnson (5-10, 175) exploded onto the scene as a red-shirt freshmen in 2017 hauling in 23 passes for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns. Johnson lined up all over the field but did most of his damage from the slot. He is very dynamic with the ball in his hands and was named a 3rd team pre-season All-American Kick Returner by Hero Sports. Arnheim shared that Cade has added 10 pounds and that he will be looking at an expanded role in 2018.
#10 Alex Wilde (6-3, 205), now a senior, caught 14 passes for 180 yards last season. Wilde posses good speed and will compete to take Wieneke's spot in the lineup. Wilde played as a true freshmen so it seems like he has been around for awhile but he has made plays when given the opportunity. Arnheim shared that Wilde is everything you want from your senior receiver; he works hard, he is selfless, and leads by example in the weight room and in conditioning. Wilde hasn't seen a ton of playing time because he was behind Jake Wienke but he has made the most of those limited opportunities.
#82 Keenan Orr (6-5, 210) brings the big frame to the lineup that Jackrabbit fans have become accustomed to seeing at the wide receiver position. Orr flashed at times during spring ball and was named scout team offensive player of the week last season and will compete for time as a red-shirt freshman. Keenan is still learning the wide receiver position after playing quarterback in high school but Arnheim has been impressed with his overall athleticism and the work ethic he has brought to the position.
#24 Deyon Campbell (5-9, 195) is another red-shirt freshmen who will be hard to keep off the field. He was named scout offense player of the week last season multiple times and became a member of the Iron Jacks (weight lifting honor) on his way to breaking many of the wide receiver lifting group records. Deyon looks to be featured in a variety of ways and alignments. Arnheim said that Deyon had the best spring of anyone on the team. He is young, having just turned 19, but really mature with how he approaches the game. Given the depth at the slot receiver position I'm sure the coaches have some creative ways to get the ball in his hands.
#86 Michael Wandmaker (6-3, 205) a red-shirt freshmen possess good size and practices hard. Arnheim shared that he is still growing in the offense but he is a team first guy and he has a bright future with the Jackrabbits. One cool thing to note about Michael is that he was picked by a number of the 2019 verbal commits as someone who had a positive impact on their experience at SDSU.
#39 Jake Aanderud (5-10, 170) possess good speed, good hands, and is a really hard worker. His freshmen year saw him named offensive scout player of the week on three separate occasions. Arnheim said that Jake has run a 10.6 100m dash and he may be the toughest receiver in the group. Arnheim said that Jake has potential in the return game as another weapon for the Jackrabbits to utilize.
#84 Isaiah Hill (5-11, 185) capped a successful red-shirt season by being named the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year. Hill has really changed his body this off season and Arnheim credited him for his conditioning and work ethic. Arnheim raved about Hill's top-end speed and his growth from the fall to spring in terms of learning the offense and playing fast. It will be interesting to see where Hill fits in the offense this year because his ability will make it tough to keep him off the field.
The incoming freshmen wide receivers are #87 Jayd Vanderwerff (6'2 190) Gregory, SD, #9 Jadon Janke (6'3 190) Madison, SD, and #20 Jaxon Janke (6'3 195) Madison, SD were three of the top players in the state of South Dakota in 2017, regardless of position, and lead their respective teams to multiple state championships while in high school. They all possess good size and will be excellent play-makers for future Jackrabbit squads. Arnheim shared that these three have already brought so much to the receiver room and the veterans have really been encouraged by their play in players practices this summer.
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