clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Northwestern football season in review: Wide Receiver player grades

New, comments

This was probably Northwestern's most disappointing position group.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

With Northwestern's regular season over, and only the bowl game remaining, it's time to evaluate the Wildcats' 2015 season. Over the next two weeks, between Monday, Dec. 14 and Christmas, we'll be going position by position and doling out grades to every Northwestern player that was a significant contributor this year. We'll start with the quarterbacks, progress through the offense, move over to the defensive side of the ball, and then finish up with special teams and coaches on Christmas Eve.

We looked at Northwestern's best skill position group, the running backs, yesterday. Today we take a look at the most disappointing position group, the wide receivers.

Austin Carr - B-

14 receptions, 276 yards, 2 touchdowns

Austin Carr is the valedictorian of the 2015 wide receiver corps, but that's probably not that great of an accomplishment. Carr was solid throughout the season, although he did get hurt in Ann Arbor and missed the game against Iowa. Carr's stats aren't really that impressive, and when you take into account that his touchdowns came against Eastern Illinois and Ball State, it doesn't exactly look any better. However, Carr did still led all wide receivers in yards and touchdowns which is worth something, even if it says more about the group as a whole than Carr himself.

More importantly, Carr earns his grade by seemingly always being in the right place at the right time. Carr had quite a few games with only one catch, but it was almost always a catch when it mattered most. His 23-yard game saving catch against Penn State immediately comes to mind, but he had quite a few others as well. He kept the game-winning drive against Purdue alive with a big first down reception on a third-and-8, he did the exact same thing against Nebraska on a third-and-10, and, would you believe it, he did the same thing again on the last Northwestern scoring drive against Wisconsin on a third-and-13. His aforementioned touchdown against Ball State was also the eventual game-winning score. Austin Carr didn't put up any gaudy stats this season, but the former walk-on certainly showed up when it mattered.

Christian Jones - D+

23 receptions, 234 yards, 2 touchdowns

Jones was one of Northwestern's most disappointing players this season, and that's what earns him such a low grade. Coming into the season, he was supposed to be one of Clayton Thorson's go-to receivers, and in the first few games he was. He then tailed off massively as the season progressed. He struggled with drops at times. After recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery last year and another knee surgery this offseason, he didn't look himself.

Jones' stats overall are fine, but in Northwestern's first five games he had 14 catches for 157 yards, then in the next seven conference games he only had 9 catches for 77 yards. Only amassing nine catches over that stretch, for a possession receiver, is a problem. That's not the type of production you need out of your top wideout. Perhaps expectations were unfairly high for Jones coming off the injury, but it's still a disappointing final season for the senior.

Mike McHugh - C-

16 receptions, 160 yards

McHugh was Mr. Consistency this season, although that's not necessarily a good thing. He had at least one catch in 11 of Northwestern's 12 games, but he also never had more than two in any game. His best game of the season was against Iowa where he had two catches for 43 yards. The 10-yard per catch average says everything you need to know about Mike McHugh this year. He was average overall, nothing flashy like last year, but not horrible.

Miles Shuler - C-

13 receptions, 132 yards, 2 carries, 30 yards

Shuler had one of the biggest catches of the season against Stanford, and made a few plays in the return game, but didn't do much else. His only two other highlights were a 26-yard run against Purdue and a 39-yard catch and run against Illinois. Shuler wasn't the consistent big play threat that we thought he could be. He wasn't able to take the top off the defense and force opposing safeties to honor the deep ball. His catch against Stanford keeps him in the Cs, but it was yet another disappointing showing from a veteran pass catcher.

Jelani Roberts - C

8 receptions, 48 yards, 10 carries, 36 yards

Jelani Roberts' grade should probably be an N/A since we really only saw him do two things this year, but he gets a high C for doing the best he could with what he was provided. When you're only allowed to run jet sweeps and quick screens, it's tough to make any sort of real impact. Roberts is a nice change of pace and if he puts on some weight, he should see more usage in his sophomore season.

Cameron Dickerson - D

4 receptions, 34 yards

Northwestern knew it was going to miss Kyle Prater this season, but Cameron Dickerson might as well have been a ghost for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-3 wideout was supposed to be a big target on the outside, something Northwestern sorely missed this year. But after a solid 2014 campaign with 24 catches for 318 yards and a touchdown, Dickerson simply wasn't that. He missed time early in the season, then when he finally did get back on the field, he only caught four passes. Dickerson rounds out the trio of senior receivers that had less than stellar final campaigns.

Flynn Nagel, Garrett Kidd, Stephen Buckley - N/A

Combined: 8 receptions, 74 yards

Nagel looked like he might be able to provide a little spark to the offense, and was on his way to becoming one of Northwestern's most effective wide receivers, but then he got hurt against Minnesota and was ruled out for the year. Kidd and Buckley each only had two catches on the season.