Aug 22, 2013
By Alex Marcheschi
OhioBobcats.com - Staff Writer
Legendary American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "It's not the length of life, but the depth of life." And while he likely had no concept of the game of football, one could consider him a soothsayer of the gridiron.
Depth is something that can make or break a football team.
The more people you have to count on, the more likely you are to succeed. Luckily for Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton, his group of receivers has no lack of it.
"This is probably the deepest receiving corps that we've had since I've been here. We're bringing a lot of these young guys along, and they're really catching on, so that's great to see," Tettleton said. "We're really going to need that come MAC play and coming down the stretch."
The young guys have been making a name for themselves thus far in camp. Players like redshirt freshman Jordan Reid and true freshman Sebastian Smith have been turning heads. It's great for competition, and as wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon explains, an impressive showing from the young guys should dissolve any sense of complacency that the more experienced players have.
"The veterans better not get satisfied," Dixon said. "They need to do what they need to do in terms of treatment and taking care of their bodies. Everybody is the same in my book. Whether you made plays for us last year or not, we have the expectation that you're going to execute and perform at a high level."
One guy who didn't get the chance to make plays last year, thanks to a leg injury early on in the Penn State game, is redshirt senior Mario Dovell. He caught three passes early on against the Nittany Lions before going down. If Dovell can avoid injuries, he figures to be a big part of the offense this year.
"If we can continue to keep him healthy, it's going to be a big plus for this offensive scheme," Dixon said.
Dovell's presence is so huge because of his willingness to do the dirty work and his knowledge of the game. As a former high school quarterback, he knows everyone's assignment on the field.
"Whenever you play quarterback, you pretty much have to know everything, from the defense to where everybody lines up," Tettleton said. "I think it definitely helps him and allows him to be a better player and teammate. Whenever you have a guy out there that knows all of his stuff, he's helping other guys get lined up, it's great to have."
Dovell was only able to contribute 29 yards of offense last season, and it wasn't easy for him to sit back and watch the season play out as he recovered.
"This past year just sitting and watching, not being able to be there with the fellas, it was very hard," Dovell said. "Now that I'm able to be back out on the field, I kind of appreciate every little thing."
His fellow veteran receivers had no problem getting comfortable last year, and the prospect of him coming back and adding to the firepower this year is enticing. Redshirt senior Donte Foster, redshirt junior Chase Cochran, junior Landon Smith and redshirt senior Matt Waters combined for 103 receptions, 1,450 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns last year, and they'll all be back this year.
"I'm very excited, you got me coming back, Donte obviously, Landon (Smith), Matt (Waters), and a lot of the young guys have stepped up," Dovell said. "Jordan Reid has really stepped up, and they're going to have to find a way to get him on the field to because he's doing very well. So, as a group, I think we have depth, and we'll definitely make an impact on the team."
Impacts aren't handed out though. They're earned, and the receivers know that. The receivers are always the last group off the field after practice. Dixon makes sure to instill his system and set of beliefs on every member of the group. They even put the work in when it isn't mandatory.
"During the winter months, it would be very cold out here and we'd be going through routes," Dovell said. "This past summer, especially with me and Tet, we stayed here when we had a two week vacation and worked pretty much every day."
"We've worked with the receivers more than we ever have this offseason," said backup quarterback Derrius Vick. "Things are clicking and we've seen it pay off really early in practices."
They've achieved a level of familiarity with one another that is conducive to excelling. Last year was a kind of coming out party for the returning members of this group. This year the group is more polished and features some explosive young options.
"We worked pretty hard, so receiver wise, the sky is the limit," Dovell said.
Alex Marcheschi will serve as the OhioBobcats.com staff writer during the 2013-14 season. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @BobcatFeatures.