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Published: Tuesday, 8/14/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Bowling Green State University's Clawson looking for playmakers

No receivers standing out for Falcons


BOWLING GREEN -- The question facing Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson is simple: Who will start for the Falcons at wide receiver when the team opens at Florida on Sept. 1?

The answer, at least at this point in fall drills, is anything but simple.

"I still have no idea," Clawson said. "We still don't have a starter at any [receiver] position. Part of that is a positive, part of that is a negative.

"It's good because the overall talent and overall depth at the position is as good as we have ever had. But it's a very inexperienced group.

"It's good to have depth, but it's a position where you'd like to have one or two guys emerge as go-to guys. We've had that the past three years, but that guys hasn't risen up for us yet."

The past two seasons BG's go-to guy was Kamar Jorden, who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving totals and was named All-Mid-American Conference first team. In 2009, Freddie Barnes set an NCAA record with 155 receptions good for 1,770 yards and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.

This year there certainly are choices, including juniors Shaun Joplin and Je'Ron Stokes, sophomore Heath Jackson, freshmen Chris Gallon, Herve Coby, Travis Greene, and Ryan Burbrink as well as fifth-year senior Bart Tanski. But Joplin, who caught 21 passes for 292 yards and a TD last year, is the only member of that group to catch a pass for the Falcons.

"Coach tells us there are no starters right now -- every position is open," Jackson said. "Every practice we have to go hard. And if you mess up, that could be an opportunity for someone else to come in and take your spot."

Joplin said one role he has tried to fill is that of a role model for the younger receivers.

"I had Freddy Barnes and Kamar Jorden to look up to," Joplin said. "Last year I had seniors like Ray Hutson and Adrian Hodges helping me.

"Now I'm the one who has to help the young guys."

The group was up-and-down in Saturday's scrimmage. Among the highlights was Joplin catching a 34-yard TD pass from Matt Johnson, while Stokes connected with Matt Schilz on a 24-yard catch-and-run play to start another drive. But there also were a few drops as well as some missed signals that ruined plays and ended drives.

"Those guys are the youngest guys on the field," Schilz said. "There are little details that they need to get, and that will come with getting more reps.

"We're hoping that we keep getting better with that in camp. We'll watch more film and work to develop that chemistry.

"Those guys are talented -- probably the most talented group we've had. But they need to keep working to be more disciplined to get going this season."

Clawson agreed, adding, "We need guys to grow up in a hurry [at that position]. Chris Gallon made some plays, but he also missed a signal or two. Je'Ron Stokes made some plays but also missed some signals.

"I'd have a hard time saying that group is game-ready. I think they are elevating their games, but I don't think we've had anyone elevate their game enough [to earn a starting position]."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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