July 27, 2013

Countdown to preseason practice: the WRs

This is the third in a multi-part series leading up to the start of Tulane preseason football practice on Aug. 2. The focus today is on receiver, where the Green Wave should be better than any other position on offense and potentially better than any team in Conference USA.

Key question: How good is the trio of Ryan Grant, Xavier Rush and Justyn Shackleford? Consider their potential. Grant (6-feet-1, 191 pounds), a first-team All-Conference USA preseason selection, caught 76 passes for 1,149 yards and six touchdowns last season. He does everything well and appears primed for another huge year despite the loss of quarterback Ryan Griffin. Rush (6-2, 203) is a smooth playmaker who started slowly in 2012 but finished with a rush, catching 34 passes for 424 yards and five scores in the final six games. Shackleford (5-11, 174), though not as explosive as the other two, was well on his way to a 200-yard day at UTEP before sustaining a hamstring pull that essentially shelved him for the final five game early in the third quarter. He had six receptions for 130 yards against the Miners, ending a torrid four-game stretch with 19 grabs for 345 yards. If Nick Montana develops the same chemistry with these guys that Griffin had, the receivers could put up some eye-popping numbers.

Secondary question: Who else will emerge as a primary target?

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