Southern’s wide receiver corps has gotten deeper and taller during preseason camp.
Wide receiver was already the Jaguars’ deepest position even before Bradley Coleman joined the group.
Coleman, a tight end the past three seasons, has been practicing at wide receiver since the start of preseason camp and is expected to play both positions this season as Southern tries to take advantage of his strength inside and skill outside.
“I get up in the morning, I see the script, go with it and just try to make it happen,” Coleman said of playing two positions. “I think it just depends on the opponent we face that week or what we’re trying to do with the offense at the time.
“But we’ve got a lot of different weapons that we can use and get a lot of guys to do a lot of different things. We should be pretty dangerous. So I’m excited to show people what I can do on the outside as well as the inside. I’m liking being back at receiver.”
Coleman arrived from Norcross, Georgia, as a wide receiver, but his 6-foot-5 frame convinced the Jaguars coaches to try him at tight end. As a freshman, he caught just nine passes but averaged 19.0 yards per catch. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.8 yards on 17 catches. And last season, he averaged 11.0 yards on nine catches. The only touchdown catch of his career came last season.
“He’s a wide receiver, but he’s a senior that’s played tight end, so he knows the offense, and we can use him multiple ways,” coach Dawson Odums said. “When we start getting ready for the first game, we could list him as a tight end or a wide receiver, but he’s going to play both.
“He’s a hybrid guy that I hope is going to give teams a fit. He’s 6-foot-5, and he can stretch the field. He can work over the ball, so we can use him a lot of ways. Primarily he has been working at wide receiver.”
Southern can afford to use Coleman at wide receiver because it has other experienced tight ends in Montrell Jones and Dillon Beard, so there are multiple options inside and outside.
Jones (6-4, 240 pounds) is a fifth-year senior who arrived as a junior-college transfer last season and led the tight ends with 16 catches for an average of 10.5 yards and one touchdown. Beard (6-3, 235) is a redshirt junior who played at Zachary High School and Baton Rouge Community College and had 11 catches for an average of 12.3 yards and one touchdown last season.
With preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference receiver Willie Quinn, the Jaguars have a dynamic 5-foot-5 playmaker at wide receiver.
Nico Talbert is slightly bigger than Quinn, Justin Morgan is bigger than Morgan, and both are elusive.
Mike Jones is bigger than Morgan as well as being a sprinter who’s a proven deep threat.
At 6-3, Randall Menard provides a big target.
But none of them is as big a target as Coleman.
“I think all quarterbacks like length because it gives them more room for error,” Odums said. “The width gives them more room so that box that they can throw in is a bigger target. That’s what I think is important.
“It looks like a tight window when you’re throwing to somebody who’s 5-11, but you put a guy who’s 6-5 in there, it seems like they’re always open, so it gives you a chance to really expand on that window.”
Coleman provides tight-end size and wide-receiver skills.
“I think he’s one of the better leaders on the team. And from an athleticism standpoint, I think he can create some mismatches,” Odums said. “You can’t coach 6-5, and you can put him in certain spots outside and inside and do a lot of different things with him to try and get matchups, and that’s what we’re really exited about.”
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.