March 25, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN – Emory Blake and his team-best 50 catches are gone. Auburn's top returning receiver had 14.
Sound familiar? It does to new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
Lashlee arrived at Auburn as a graduate assistant in 2009, worked with receivers and watched Darvin Adams, he of three career catches through 2008, set a school record with 60 catches in 2009 and post 112 catches his final two years. Terrell Zachery, he of two catches, caught 69 passes over the next two seasons.
The mission now is to send another group of receivers up the charts, and that will begin Wednesday when spring practice starts.
"It's really similar to 2009 when we got here," Lashlee said. "Montez Billings had some catches, (24), but Terrell Zachery and Tim Hawthorne were in single-digits or the teens. We didn't have a lot of catches when we came, and all Darvin did was break the school record for catches.
"We don't have much experience now, but we have some really athletic guys with good size."
Some of those are the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Sammie Coates, 6-3, 217 Melvin Ray, 6-3, 211 Jaylon Denson and 6-2, 210 Ricardo Louis.
Trovon Reed and Quan Bray aren't as big, "but they're good in space," Lashlee said.
Bray is the leading returning receiver. He had 14 catches for 94 yards last season. Reed had nine catches for 122. Coates had six for 114. There figures to be room to pad those stats in Gus Malzahn's offense.
"And we feel good about the freshmen coming in from a size standpoint. Sometimes a fresh start is a good thing, whether you're experienced or not. I think Darvin is a good example," Lashlee said.
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