With less than two months until the Panthers begin their season at home against Bryant University, here’s our look at the wide receivers in our position-by-position preview of the 2022 FIU football team.
The biggest bright spot for the Panthers in 2021 was the emergence of Tyrese Chambers. After previously committing to UTSA, Chambers landed with FIU in time for last year’s spring session and never looked back. Chambers and the now-departed Bryce Singleton hauled in almost 50% of the team’s receptions and over 75% of receiving yards last year — leaving the bulk of the wide receivers behind them unproven.
Let’s take a look at Jay MacIntyre’s wide receiver room that features several talented prospects looking to break out in 2022.
All stats listed are for the 2021 season. Projected starter(s) are in bold. Class year reflects NCAA eligibility rules for the 2022 season.
Tyrese Chambers (Sr.) - 6-1, 195, 45 receptions for 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns
Randall St. Felix (R-Sr.) - 6-3, 205, 20 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns
Artez Hooker (Soph.) - 5-9, 175, one reception for four yards
Jay Barry Jr. (Soph.) - 6-2, 185, zero statistics
Dean Patterson (R-Soph.) - 6-2, 200, three receptions for 34 yards
Ross Fournet (Soph.) - 5-9, 170, zero statistics
Caleb Lynum (R-Jr.) - 6-2, 215, four receptions for 38 yards
Nate Jefferson (R-Soph.) 5-11, 170, five receptions for 33 yards and one touchdown
Kris Mitchell (R-Soph.) 6-1, 175, nine receptions for 158 yards
Teddy Richardson (R-Fr.) 5-11, 185, zero statistics
Newcomers: Sharod Johnson (Sr.) 5-11, 185, 26 receptions for 322 yards (Career at Syracuse)
Jacolby Hewitt (Jr.) 6-2, 200, 13 receptions for 155 yards (Career at Indiana)
Jalen Bracey (Jr.) 5-10, 185, 115 receptions for 1,648 yards (Career at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)
Mike Jackson (Fr.) 5-8, 160, Three-star recruit, Miami (Miami Palmetto HS)
DeAndre Jackson (Jr.) 5-9, 160, Transfer from Bluefield College (Lennard HS, Tampa)
Jett Law (Fr.), 5-9, 180, Steinbrenner HS, Tampa
Jalen Coutain (Fr.) 6-1, 180, Olympia HS, Orlando
Heading into Fall: Of all positions, the wide receiver corps have the most continuity from last season to the upcoming one, returning four of the top six players in most snaps played from the receiver position in 2021. With the graduation of Bryce Singleton and the insertion of a new offense, Mike MacIntyre added several receivers in the offseason who are described him as “guys that you can’t touch and can’t catch.”
To provide some context to MacIntyre’s quote, he and offensive coordinator David Yost have emphasized a desire to get the ball in the hands of receivers quickly and allow them to operate.
“With our receivers, it’s great to have athletic and speedy guys but what good is it if they don’t have the ball,” said Yost. “We want to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly and let our guys make plays.”
Syracuse transfer Sharod Johnson, Indiana transfer Jacolby Hewitt and JUCO transfer Jalen Bracey are among the experienced additions who will all compete for starting roles immediately.
The slew of returners are names that Panthers’ fans have known for awhile, but whether it’s been due to injury, veterans ahead of them or sheer inexperience, haven’t seen a ton of playing time.
Nate Jefferson, Kris Mitchell, Teddy Richardson, Artez Hooker and Jay Barry Jr. are all former three-star recruits who are looking to establish themselves in a crowded receiver room. Additionally, Randall St. Felix and Caleb Lynum will look to benefit from a full offseason and fall camp.
Okay, we’ve made this far without mentioning the undisputed top player at the position, Tyrese Chambers. All he’s done since entering the collegiate ranks is produce and last season was no different as he set new program records for receiving yards and touchdowns in a season.
Seemingly, he has nothing left to prove — seemingly, that is.
There’s no denying that Chambers is equal parts captivating as he is productive. However, for all of the accolades that he’s rightfully earned, an aspect of his game that he’ll be looking to prove (and one that’s completely out of his control) is can he produce on a winning team and when the game is tightly contested.
Of his 1,074 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, 508 yards and six touchdowns came with FIU behind at least 14 points.
Summary: With the above note about Chambers stated, he’s still one of the top players in Conference USA and one of the top wideouts in the nation.
“What’s been great about zero (Chambers) is he’s the level setter for this entire group,” said position coach Jay MacIntyre. “The way he works and leads our guys, he’s one of the best I’ve been around.”
Chambers showed versatility last season in not only working from the outside as a X or Z wideout, but he also was second on the team with 95 snaps from the slot. The ability to move him around should help as teams gameplan around stopping him.
Jefferson, Mitchell and St. Felix are the returners who saw the most time last year. Once considered the clear successor to Maurice Alexander as a slot receiver and punt returner, Jefferson has battled injuries during his time in Miami. Mitchell has shown flashes in two seasons and will look to have a strong fall camp after missing a small portion of spring with an ankle injury. St. Felix was an instant standout during his time at USF and can provide a sizable presence among a smaller group of wideouts.
Former walk-on Dean Patterson is a name to watch as the depth chart fills out. The Tampa native started his career in Division II, before walking on last season (joining high school teammates Haden Carlson and Carson Kaleo) — and has steadily blossomed into an FBS player.
“Dean Patterson has shown up every single day of camp ready to go and that’s been impressive,” said MacIntyre. “Dean’s one of those guys who does everything right and he’s a late bloomer, I didn’t expect this from him or know about him, but he continues to show up and impress.”
Bracey was a highly-productive player at the JUCO level and has been on the radar of his position coach for awhile.
“I’ve been around Jalen a long time and he’s a guy who’s electric with the ball,” said MacIntyre.
Final Grade: B+ — This grade may be slightly high given the relative lack of production of the majority of the group — however, it is indicative of the player that Chambers is and that should allow for the rest of the group to see opportunities.
Bringing in veterans like Hewitt and Johnson can help the younger players in the group have more time to develop and give FIU instant help.
Ultimately, the production of the group will come down to how quickly the quarterback position can get settled and the development of the offensive line.