Veterans Step Up to Lead Deep Receiving Corps

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CLINTON, MS - In the coming weeks, we will take a chance to preview each position on the field for the Choctaws as we head toward the season opening "Backyard Brawl" on September 3rd against Millsaps.  We invite MC fans to take a look and get more acclimated with the 2011 group of Choctaws.

The schedule will be as follows:

Quarterbacks – August 15th
Running Backs – August 16th
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends – TODAY
Offensive Line – TOMORROW
Defensive Line – August 19th
Linebackers – August 20th
Secondary – August 22nd
Special Teams – August 23rd
Offense – August 24th
Defense – August 25th
Overall – August 26th

One position on the offensive side of the ball that has a lot of depth is at wide receiver.  The Choctaws have four upper classmen that have been charged with leading the corps of pass catchers that could spark a high-powered, high-scoring attack.  Seniors Brian Richardson (Fairhope, AL, Fairhope High School) and Matt Burke (Hernando, MS, Hernando High School) join juniors Randal Pharr (Memphis, TN, Middle Tennessee State Univ.) and Fred Williams (Miami, FL, Miami Jackson Senior HS) at the top of the depth chart.

Richardson comes into his final season with an opportunity to etch his name in the MC record books with another outstanding year.  The receiver everyone calls "rookie" has made an impact every since he stepped on campus.   Richardson sits in the top 10 in MC history in the Division III era with 91 catches for 1,250 yards, and nine touchdown receptions.

Burke returns after missing 2010 season with an injury he suffered in the final games of MC's playoff run in 2009.  The Hernando native caught 25 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the seven games before suffering the injury two years ago.

Wide receivers and tight ends coach Renard Ellis talked about the leadership of his upperclassmen.  "Those four guys have done a great job of mentoring our young guys and getting them to buy into our offensive system.  With it being my first year coaching the position, they have helped me out a lot in getting these young guys ready."

Pharr returns to the team after leading the Choctaws with 47 catches for 660 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010.  The speedy receiver also rushed for 92 yards from the position as he showcased his agility and versatility.  Pharr had three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, including hauling in seven passes for 119 yards and three scores in the win over Howard Payne

Williams has also stepped up and made some big plays in the preseason, giving the Choctaws yet another option on the outside.  Last season, Fred caught 19 passes for 112 yards and will look to be a bigger part of the offense in 2011.

Ellis, a former MC tight end himself, talked about the development of his receivers.  "One thing I've tried to base my instruction on in the preseason is three "D's" that I learned in my martial arts training.  I try to instill in my guys discipline, dedication, and determination in everything they do.  If they put in the work, the results will reveal themselves."

Another upperclassman that has shown excellent improvement at the receiver position is junior Alex Archer (Shreveport, LA, C.E. Byrd High School).  The Shreveport native gives the Choctaws another threat on the outside.

At the receiver position, there are some newcomers that have made early impacts and will push for significant playing time.  Former Clinton High School standout Stephen Smith (Clinton, MS, University of Dubuque) transferred from the University of Dubuque and has shown a lot of promise in early workouts.  The 6-2, 195 receiver gives MC some size on the outside.

Two freshmen that have impressed in the early going have been Keylin Watson and Hunter Farrior.  The rookies will look to push for playing time with the varsity this season.

At the tight end position, the Choctaws have had to deal with some adversity in camp as their top two candidates have gone down with injuries in the first week.  Seniors Bobby Martin (Greenville, AL, Ft. Dale Academy) and Tyler McClung (Athens, AL, West Limestone High School) were poised to take over the position after the departure of Cody Goss last season.  Martin and McClung have not sustained serious injuries, but they have allowed the youngsters to get some vital practice time early on.

Freshman William Fulton (Meridian, MS, Lamar High School) has shown that his 6-4, 220 frame can produce at the tight end position.  Fellow freshman C.J. Duckworth (Brookhaven, MS, Brookhaven Academy) made the move from linebacker to give MC depth at the position.  Duckworth has shown a lot of potential in the few days he has been at the position.

Tomorrow we will preview the offensive line for the Choctaws.

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