It's week five of The Hunt Report, and playing off of the week of football that we are entering, and considering that -- no matter what league -- is a passing league, I thought it would be cool to put this week's focus on some of the more underrated pass catchers from around the country.
Because of the advent of 7-on-7 at the youth level, various types of passing camps and traveling 7-on-7 teams at the high school level, we are seeing much more polish coming from the passing game right now, both from a QB perspective and pass catcher perspective. It's the reason why you have days one and two of the NFL Draft peppered with guys who can make plays out on the perimeter.
Also, with virtually everyone in college football essentially playing the same game offensively, it just opens up a bevy of opportunities for guys -- some being late bloomers coming out of high school -- to continue to grow, develop and prosper at their position and get those 10,000 hours of running routes, reading coverages on the fly and catching the ball. As a result, we're seeing polished prospects also coming out of the non-Power 5 programs as well.
Let's take a look at a few of those players, as we go Five Wide this week in The Hunt Report.
For last week's Hunt Report,.
- Year: Fourth year
- College: University of Waterloo
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 190
Basalyga is a great manipulator of space at the position. He has a complete understanding of how to operate vs. zone coverage, how to utilize leverage to his advantage and how to keep himself both open and available for his quarterback. I really came away impressed with how he closes on the deep ball in the air, showing above-average acceleration in the process. He's been getting reps over his career in the return game, which just adds to his value. He's very similar to how Los Angeles Rams WR Ben Skowronek plays the game. Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Toronto
WR Ben Stevens
- Year: Junior
- College: Marian (IN) University
- Height: 5-10
- Weight: 185
Stevens has a flair for the dramatic. He's one of the most talented receivers at the NAIA level this season and is a legit playmaker. Top-tier hand-eye coordination is a valued trait for a wide receiver, and you just see the focus combined with the hand placement he uses to haul in some impossible targets. So far on the season he's got 421 yards receiving and five touchdowns on only 18 receptions, averaging a Flipper Anderson-like 23.4 yards per reception. Stevens also is another very active special teams player, boasting a punt return touchdown this season. He's shown the ability to play bigger than his size, winning on the outside with ease while also being a bit of a physical RAC guy as well. Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Taylor
- Year: Senior
- College: Washburn University
- Height: 5-7
- Weight: 175
Size is not a skill. Always remember that when scouting prospects, at any level. JJ Letcher is a fantastic football player who has been box office for the Ichabods his entire career. He's coming off of a 12-catch, 180-yard, two touchdown performance last weekend against Missouri Western. What makes him so dangerous is what people are wrongly worried about...his size. His biggest asset is his ability to explode in and out of his breaks during his route running, and his ability to quickly change direction with the ball in his hands. And all of that is mostly due to his stature. He's got a versatileskill set to be utilized in the WR run game, in the slot to take the top off of the defense, or in the return game, where he has also excelled. Letcher is on pace to smash personal bests this season in the passing game. Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Emporia State
- Year: Redshirt senior
- College: Indiana State
- Height: 6'2
- Weight: 207
Love how Indiana State uses Hendrix within their offense, as it gives you a bit of an idea of where his home could potentially be as a pro player. He's usually tightly aligned as a split end (X) or sometimes playing inside as a big slot -- a position I like to call "inside receiver" (think Marques Colston). Hendrix plays a big man's game, and he showed that in his early-season matchup vs. Purdue, finishing with 90 yards on five receptions. He does a great job working through zone coverage, knowing when to keep carrying the route and when to settle down. He has very strong, confident hands to survive a bang-bang play while also being able to shield the defender from the football as well. Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Northern Iowa
- Year: Senior
- College: Fordham
- Height: 5'9
- Weight: 190
I mentioned Kokosioulis in myas a guy who is my new favorite player. I had just come off of being the color analyst on their game vs. Monmouth, and he put on a show. He hauled in 15 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns, which was great to see. But what was even more impressive was the fact that he made two of the biggest special teams tackles in that game that saved potential touchdowns. Last weekend, the country became familiar with what I already knew two weeks prior, as Kokosioulis finished with 320 yards receiving with four touchdowns, on 13 receptions. Where he gives defenders problems is his ability to play above the rim, despite being only 5-foot-9. He wins after the catch as well, showing a nose for the pylon with the speed, quickness and core strength to put the ball in the paint. He's going to continue to skyrocket up many draft boards and watch lists. Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Georgetown