NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State receiving corps emerged as one of the top units in the Ohio Valley Conference. Patrick Smith, Steven Newbold and Chris Rowland return as the top three receivers from a season ago.
Smith enters the season as the OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Tigers with 61 receptions for 966 yards and 13 touchdowns. The senior has caught a scoring pass in 17 of his 21 games in blue and is the career top ten in the TSU record books in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Newbold and Rowland were Freshman All-American at receiver and return specialist, respectively. Newbold finished 13th in the nation averaging 19.1 yards per reception and collected 41 receptions for 784 yards and six touchdowns. As a receiver, Rowland caught 16 passes for 236 yards.
The trio team with tight end Mahlon Medley as the top four in receptions from last year which return for the 2017 season.
Mazio Rhodes was finally able to get into the mix at wide receiver in 2016 after sitting out the 2015 season due to injury. Rhodes played in six games on special teams in 2014 as a red-shirt freshman. The Nashville product caught seven passes for 67 yards in 10 games last season. Redshirt-sophomore Ronnie Killings looks to improve upon his first campaign with the Tigers where he hauled in three receptions for 19 yards.
DeVon Johnson will add to the aerial attack after sitting out last season after transferring from Alabama A&M. Johnson caught 31 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns while playing in 20 games in two seasons for the Bulldogs.
Head coach Rod Reed continued to add to the wide receiver position as he added seven freshmen to the squad. Al-Malik Moore and Vincent Thomas hail from Florida, while Jared Simpkins and Aaron Hudson come to TSU from Georgia. Reed also added local products Lawrence Segree II, DJ Hunter and Zarius Gamble.
|WIDE RECEIVERS||HT||WT||YR||Transfer||Gms Played||Catches||Yards||TD|
|DeVon Johnson||6-1||165||R-Jr.||Alabama A&M||20||31||450||2|
|Lawrence Segree II||6-0||175||Fr.||--|
Sophomore Wide Receiver Steven Newbold
- On the progression of the receiving corps
“The receiving corps is coming together. Everybody is getting a better understanding of the playbook and coming in for extra work. Everybody is looking good.”
- On working out over the summer and what forward to this season
“I worked on all my routes and on the little things that will help us get better. We need to win the games we lost last year and get better this year.”
Freshman wide receiver Al-Malik Moore
- On make the move to collegiate football
“Everything is faster. I just have to continue to learn where I need to be and all the plays.”
- On the upperclassmen
“I watch them do everything and pick up from what they are doing. I am just learning from them.”
Freshman wide receiver Jared Simpkins
- On the speed at the collegiate level
The speed is totally different. The defenses in high school were much easier, but I will get the hang of it though.”
- On the differences on preparation
“Back in high school we had meetings, but not like here. They are longer and more in depth. It is really helping me make the adjustments.”
Freshman wide receiver Lawrence Segree II
- On the start of camp
“I think it is going pretty well, right now I am still trying to learn the offense and get used to the speed. It is much faster than high school, so I am just trying to get into the playbook and learning the plays.”
- On learning the system
“There are a lot of returning receivers, so I am just learning from them. We also have a lot of meetings throughout the day and that is helping me learn the plays and get the formations down.”
- On the best thing about TSU so far
“The team is like family, they are really close. I really like the family feel.”