The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

August 30, 2009

SMU has plenty of depth at receiver

Receiving depth is the biggest source of optimism for Southern Methodist’s football team this fall.

So deep is the unit that the Mustangs’ arguably best player can’t even make the first team.

And, for that, Justin Willis apparently has had enough.

The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site Thursday night that Willis is believed to have quit the team. According to the report, the senior has not been at practice since Monday, one day before he was told he would not be one of four starting receivers.

That means Willis will not be on the Mustangs’ sideline when they visit Marshall on Nov. 21. Kickoff will be 4:30 p.m.

It will be SMU’s first visit to Huntington since losing 16-13 in overtime Oct. 1, 2005.

The following season, Willis picked the Herd apart as a freshman, completing 20 of 23 passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-21 SMU win.

But Willis, who has had a troubled life away from football, moved from QB to receiver last season.

The quarterback this year will be Bo Levi Mitchell, who struggled last year as a freshman in coach June Jones’ first season. Mitchell attempted 410 passes in Jones’ system and completed 236 of them for 2,865 yards and 24 touchdowns.

But he also threw 23 interceptions.

The receiving corps the Mustangs are so high on will have as its starters Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson, Cole Beasley and Terrance Wilkerson. Sanders led the team in receptions last year with 67 and had 958 yards and nine touchdowns. Robinson’s 1,047 yards and 11 TDs were team-highs.

SMU won’t run much under Jones’ system, if last year is any indication. The Mustangs averaged just 41.4 yards on the ground, 119th in the nation.

There is also depth at linebacker as SMU switches to a 3-4 defense. Junior Pete Fleps led the team with 106 tackles last year. Youri Yenga, also a junior, had a team-high 6 1/2 sacks.

— E-mail: gfauber@

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