Malachi Dupre arrived at LSU in the summer of 2014 standing 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
Few on that team matched his height.
“I used to be one of the tallest receivers we had,” he said.
“I’m one of the shortest.”
He’s average — literally. The average height of the Tigers’ nine scholarship receivers is a smidge under 6-3. Six of the nine are 6-3 or taller. That’s tied with two other teams for tops in the Southeastern Conference.
In fact, no SEC team has a group of receivers taller than LSU’s crew: Stephen Sullivan (6-6), Dee Anderson (6-5), Jazz Ferguson (6-5), D.J. Chark (6-3), Drake Davis (6-3), Dupre (6-3), Travin Dural (6-2), Russell Gage (6-0) and Derrick Dillon (5-11).
If they stood atop one another’s heads, they'd reach more than 56 feet in height. That’s nearly twice the height of the goal posts at Tiger Stadium.
Combined, they average 74.88 inches in height. Alabama has the second-tallest group of receivers in the league, with an average height of 74.66 inches. Kentucky (74.60) and Ole Miss (74.00) are the only other teams above the 74-inch mark.
Auburn (72.33) and Vanderbilt (71.41) bring up the rear in the conference. The pair combine for one receiver of 6-3 or taller — five behind LSU’s total.
“I haven’t been a part of a receiving group this big,” Dural said, “where I’m one of the smaller guys.”
What’s this mean for quarterback Brandon Harris and the Tigers’ passing offense? Only good things, of course, players and coaches say. Who doesn’t want to throw to a 6-foot-5 giant with an enormous catching radius?
Three LSU receivers have wingspans — a measurement from finger tip to finger tip when arms are out-stretched — of 7 feet. That’s 1 inch shorter than the average wingspan for an NBA power forward in 2015, according to nyloncalculus.com.
LSU’s passing offense limped to a 106th finish last year and 116th in 2014. Will taller receivers and bigger wingspans really change the trend?
“You’ve got a big margin for error when you throw the ball, and they can make those catches,” Harris said.
“Knowing that you have a guy that you’re going to just throw it anywhere and he’s going to seal the DB off with his body … it’s something he didn’t have with me and Malachi,” Dural said. “Now he has that with the bigger guys.”
LSU wouldn’t lead the league in receiver height without departures. Four scholarship receivers have left the program in the past eight months, and none of them were taller than 6-2. Kevin Spears landed at Jacksonville State, and Trey Quinn is at SMU. John Diarse can play immediately at TCU as a graduate transfer, and Tyron Johnson announced his departure Thursday.
Oh, sure, the loss of those guys makes the Tigers the SEC’s tallest group, but it also means the program’s numbers are down. LSU is tied with Alabama and Georgia for the fewest scholarship receivers (nine) in the SEC. The league average is 11, and Texas A&M’s 16 leads everyone.
Nine isn’t so much of an issue in Baton Rouge: coach Les Miles and Co. don’t use many wideouts during a season. Take last year: Just five receivers caught passes. Three of those — Diarse, Quinn and Johnson — left.
Why? Diarse and Quinn transferred to programs with pass-heavy offenses, and Johnson’s father said Thursday that his son left for a “more wide open offense.” He caught nine passes as a freshman. Quinn and Diarse combined for 50 receptions in four seasons, an average of 12 per year.
Receiver Tyron Johnson announced on Thursday that he’s transferring from LSU, and his father…
The bottom line: if you’re not one of LSU’s top two receivers, you’re not catching many balls. In the previous five seasons, the Tigers’ third receiver averaged 15 catches and 219 yards a year.
Maybe that trend reverses this season with so much height on the squad.
The tallest guys are rookies. Sullivan and Anderson joined the team in January, and Davis arrived in June. Davis is climbing the depth chart quickly, at least according to Dural.
Davis is backing up Dupre at the X receiver position, and Chark is backing up Dural at the Z receiver position, Dural said. Jazz Ferguson is starting at the Y, and Chark is No. 1 at the F. The Y and the F are inside receiver positions.
Harris called Davis a “freak” earlier this summer. A Baton Rouge native, Davis shoved back freshman defensive back Cameron Lewis during practice this week in Big Cat, a one-on-one collision drill pitting an offensive and defense player.
A video posted by the university showed Davis winning the match, eliciting a celebratory outburst from offensive players.
“He’s 6-4 and runs a 4.3-second (40-yard dash),” Harris said.
Davis, though, is just one of many tall guys, of course. In fact, at 6-3, he’s just, well, average.
“When in doubt,” Dural said with a laugh, “throw the jump ball to one of the 6-5 guys.”
LSU has the tallest group of scholarship receivers in the Southeastern Conference, but the Tigers also have the second-fewest in total numbers.
|LSU||9||74.88 (6-2 ⅞)||6|
|Alabama||9||74.66 (6-2 ⅓)||4|
|Kentucky||10||74.60 (6-2 ⅔)||6|
|Ole Miss||10||74.00 (6-2)||2|
|Tennessee||10||73.80 (6-1 ¾)||4|
|Missouri||13||73.69 (6-1 ⅔)||6|
|Texas A&M||16||73.37 (6-1 ⅓)||5|
|Arkansas||10||73.20 (6-1 ¼)||2|
|South Carolina||12||72.75 (6-0 ¾)||4|
|Georgia||9||72.75 (6-0 ¾)||1|
|Florida||11||72.36 (6-0 ⅓)||1|
|Mississippi State||11||72.36 (6-0 ⅓)||2|
|Auburn||12||72.33 (6-0 ⅓)||1|
|Vanderbilt||12||71.41 (5-11 ⅜)||0|