Steve Spurrier Jr. has been in this situation before. He’s not wary of entering the season with a mostly unproven group of wide receivers.
The way he sees it, he has an advantage that he didn’t previously have.
Remember when he came in, in 2005? Nearly all of the top pass-catchers in 2004 (Troy Williamson, Cory Boyd, Andrea Gause, Matthew Thomas, Demetris Summers) were gone or redshirting that season. His top returning receiver was Noah Whiteside with 20 catches and no touchdowns the year before.
But there was this kid who looked really good in 2004 camp but had hurt his knee during pregame warmups for Georgia, and a good-looking athlete who’d played quarterback in high school but who Spurrier Jr. thought would make a decent receiver.
Sidney Rice and Kenny McKinley left USC holding a sheaf of school records. Those opened the door to an eye-popping array of talent that has cycled through since – Alshon Jeffery, Bruce Ellington, Ace Sanders, Pharoh Cooper. Spurrier Jr. has usually had one dependable guy each season and the rest have developed throughout the year.
Spurrier Jr. has Cooper this year, and he’s going to draw most of the attention. That opens the door for his others – Matrick Belton, Carlton Heard, Deebo Samuel, Terry Googer and Shamier Jeffery – to make their marks.
He’s made it clear that everybody gets a chance. Cooper has earned his spot, but the others can be earned or lost in any week.
“If you’re young and on the scout team today, you could be starting in four weeks. So everybody knows where they are,” Spurrier Jr. said. “We’re just trying to battle the guys next to us.”