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New faces prop up Bethune-Cookman WRs
Like most coaches, Bethune-Cookman’s Brian Jenkins is well aware of the pattern. You start creating depth at a position and recruits begin to look elsewhere.
All football players want to get on the field right away and few want to share playing time.
That’s why wide receiver has become sort of an enigma at B-CU. The position seems to be a magnet for Football Bowl Subdivision transfers.
For the second year in a row, the Wildcats will have four former major-college players sharing the receiver spots with B-CU veterans and freshmen.
There is so much receiver talent on the team, you’d think there wouldn’t be enough footballs to keep everyone happy. But these players welcome the influx of talent.
The more the merrier.
And they may even have a major-college transfer throwing them the ball in former Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who is battling Jackie Wilson, David Blackwell and freshman Quentin Williams to be the starting signal caller in the Wildcats’ no-huddle, spread offense.
The Wildcats will play their first game next Sunday against Prairie View A&M in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando.
“These guys attracted each other,” Jenkins said. “They all wanted to play together.”
The ‘Cats return four wideouts who had at least 91 receiving yards last season, including former Rutgers player Eddie Poole, who had 33 catches for 550 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns.
Joining the group this year are junior Keith Stroud, a former teammate and roommate of Poole’s at Rutgers; junior Jared Mitchell, who was at Ole Miss for three seasons, including a redshirt year; and sophomore Xavier Reese, who was at Purdue for two seasons.
All four are at least 6-foot-3, and all have exceptional speed.
“We’ve got height – we all attack the ball when it’s in the air. We’ve got speed – we’re all playmakers – and we all played at the highest level,” said Stroud, who caught 17 passes for 157 yards with the Scarlet Knights last season. “We can teach the other guys here, and we all can learn from each other.”
What they don’t have, Jenkins said, are the large egos associated with blue-chip recruits.
“It’s not whether we played (in FBS) or not,” Poole said. “Because right now we’re (in Football Championship Subdivision), and right now we’re just trying to be the best team we can for the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.”
Stroud and Poole played for Jenkins when he was the receivers coach at Rutgers in 2009, the year before he was named head coach at B-CU.
“I kept in close contact with Coach Jenkins,” said Stroud, who is from Brooklyn, N.Y. “I’m excited about him being my head coach. I’m probably as happy as I’ve been my whole life. At Rutgers he cared about me as one of his own. Here, he’s like my coach/dad.”
Jenkins recruited Reese out of Oakland Park Northeast High near Fort Lauderdale, and he got to know Mitchell through “several different people connected to Bethune-Cookman,” Jenkins said.
“I have a connection with all of these guys,” Jenkins said. “And that’s a plus, more so than just the football side.”
But the football side had a major role in attracting all of them, who weren’t getting the playing time they had expected at their original universities.
“I really like the fast-paced offense here and how they distribute the ball to everybody,” said Mitchell, who is from the St. Louis area. “Last season, I saw how good they were (finishing 10-2 and making the FCS playoffs), and I know some people from Daytona who ranted and raved about the program, so I decided to look into it for myself.”
“The offense is pretty exciting,” agreed Reese, who was the last of the three to transfer, arriving on campus last Sunday night, just one day before fall semester started. “They put you in position to make plays.”
But like Stroud, Reese said Jenkins is the main reason why he is here.
“Coach Jenkins didn’t have to do much to sell me on the program,” Reese said. “I saw the direction he was moving in and the passion he has about moving forward.”
Jenkins said he prefers his team to travel with six receivers, though that number doesn’t factor in special teams performers. Either way, the latest additions could force some of last year’s contributors or up-and-coming young players to be left off the travel roster.
“You want to play as many people as you can to keep the guys fresh,” Stroud said. “If Coach Jenkins is confident enough to bring 10 of us (on the road), then bring on 10. I mean we just want to have the best opportunity to win.”
By BRENT WORONOFF, The Daytona Beach News-Journal