Over the past several seasons the amount of WR talent which stepped through the gates and onto the field at Tiger Stadium is nearly unmatched by any program across the country. Names like Early Doucet, Dwayne Bowe, Buster Davis, Brandon LaFell, Demetrius Byrd, and Josh Reed earn LSU the distinction of WR U. Guys like Terrance Toliver, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard look to continue that tradition in 2010.
But those aren't the only names that will be contributors this season. The 2010 recruiting class ushered in a handful of talented names to help fill out the thin depth chart. Kadron Boone is the name most Tiger fans are excited about, but after summer camps and early practices, it seems that James Wright is the one making the biggest immediate impact.
Wright is a big, physical target with extremely sticky hands. Unlike many HS receivers, Wright will reach his big paws out there and snatch the ball out of the air, rather than waiting for it to get into his body. He also shows good leaping ability, often going up to get the ball (or knock it down as a DB). Skills such as this are likely why he's climbed his way up the depth chart in such short order.
After the catch, Wright is a physical runner. You will rarely see the first tackler bring him down, which is a rarity for a WR. Further, Wright shows an aggressiveness in both the way he runs and blocks. There's an attitude to the way he plays the game that is plainly evident. When attributes such as this standout on tape, it's no surprise he's in the mix early at WR.
The lone question mark I have concerning Wright is his ability to run routes. Most of his highlights show him either catching simple go routes or short screens. He rarely trails across the middle (though his physical nature gives me no reason to believe he would fear it). There's one particular screen where he makes a good outside fake before cutting back up the field, which indicates to me that he has the sort of stop/start ability to turn himself into a good route runner. However, I'm guessing any of those concerns were put to rest this summer and fall as Wright has put himself in place to earn some playing time as early as today.
High End: LSU has experienced tremendous success in the past with big, physical WRs. Wright fits the mold. The WR depth chart is extremely thin this year, and heading into 2011, Wright may actually have the opportunity to be a starter across from Rueben Randle (assuming Shep remains in his role of jack of all trades). Wright may end up being one of the more productive receivers in LSU history if he emerges with a role this year and steps into a starting position in 2011.
Low End: Considering the abundance of playing time which is there for the taking, it's hard to imagine Wright will be a total flop. Now, perhaps he's a workout/practice warrior? I don't think so, but it's happened before. If Wright is more timid in playing than his highlight tape indicates, I suppose he could struggle to make an impact. But at the very worst Wright looks like a very suitable starter on the outside that will be a blocking asset in the run game.
Realistic: I see Wright nabbing around 10-15 balls this year and maybe a touchdown or two. He doesn't have the unbelievable upside of a guy like Rueben Randle, but he is talented. Wright should figure heavily into the rotation next season with fellow freshman Kadron Boone. I expect by 2012 he will be a starter on the outside and an extremely productive option at WR, similar to a Brandon LaFell with better hands.