Clarksville, TN – Not to sound like a broken record, but if you’ve listened to the Austin Peay State University (APSU) PeayCast (latest episode with offensive lineman Blake Mitchell!) or recall our Greatest Govs list from early during These Uncertain Times, you may already be familiar with this stat. But it’s worth repeating, over and over and over again, because it’s mind-blowing.
But if he had never caught a pass before 2019 and never caught another one in an Austin Peay State University uniform, DeAngelo Wilson’s 1,564 receiving yards last year would rank him eighth all-time IN HIS AUSTIN PEAY STATE UNIVERSITY CAREER. His 15 touchdown receptions would be even better, tied for fifth.
No matter what he does for an encore, Wilson’s career is one for the Austin Peay State University record books. And between his returning partners-in-crime, the talented newcomers who have arrived and the redshirts from a year ago eager to impress, opposing secondaries have a job ahead of them. Sure, you can throw the kitchen sink at stopping Wilson. But the rest of this unit is more than capable of making you pay.
If Wilson gets the headlines—and as the OVC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, that does seem to be a fair assessment—it’s because of the attention commanded by the guys flanking him. If a defense takes its eye off Baniko Harley, he can beat them in a variety of ways; his 12 touchdowns from a year ago included four rushing scores, seven receiving touchdowns and even a callback to his prep days as a quarterback with a touchdown pass.
“DeAngelo caught a lot of passes and had a lot yards last year, but that doesn’t roll over to this year. He understands that, understands that the preseason stuff is what it is, and that’s what people think you should be.
“Having a weapon in Baniko does a lot for us. When defenses are trying to gameplan for him, they don’t know if he’ll be in the backfield, out wide, in the slot… we’re able to do all that with these guys because they know the offense and understand what we’re trying to get done. We don’t have to change personnel to do what we want to get done, because they’re so versatile.”
There’s more. So much more. Gorel Soumare is back as the big (6-3, 215-pound) target out wide, with Geordon Pollard poised to make a leap as a sophomore in a similar role. With a plurality of touches earmarked for Wilson and Harley, the ability of these two to stretch the field will free up the underneath areas where so much of Wilson’s catch-and-run damage can be done.
“How to get all these guys on the field is a great problem to have,” Bumphis said. “We can rotate guys, keep them fresh and see who is making plays. Coach (Tim) Zetts is great at creating mismatches, putting them in spaces where they can work and we can see them succeed. We’re deep. We have so much talent and so many guys who can make plays. We can go four and five wide. I have six or seven guys I feel comfortable playing in OVC games.”
After his season was cut short due to injury early, Jay Parker is back as a redshirt sophomore with game-changing speed out of the slot. The 5-5 Pearl-Cohn High product caught three passes in the 2019 season opener against North Carolina Central.
Three fresh-faced newcomers look to carve out roles for themselves among the talent already on hand. Vincent Taylor hails from Mississippi State and will provide overqualified depth. Florida native Jaquan Randolph possesses excellent projectable size (6-2, 185 pounds), while Manny Scott and his 5-8 stature offers an alternative to the slot presence provided by Wilson and Parker; you could do a lot worse as a freshman with those two showing you the ropes.
“We’re trying to get the young guys there,” Bumphis said. “It’s different; for guys like Randolph, you just line up and out run people. But now everybody is that good and you have to be a complete receiver, learn the route tree and the concepts. Luckily for him and Manny, they don’t have to come in and play right away, and they get to learn from guys like Baniko and DeAngelo for a year. They just have to stay patient and understand their time is coming.”
There are some old hands still waiting their turn. Darius Nalls, Justyn Baker and JP Batarseh, all of whom have made their mark on special teams or as part of the practice squad during their tenures, would love to have a more prominent role moving forward while Armond Carter Jr. moves to the wide receiver room from running back for his final year as a Gov.
Two APSU Govs sat out a year ago—Talen Rucker-Daley for a redshirt season and Justin Gibbs due to injury. Gibbs, a Ball State transfer standing a robust 6-1, 215, stands as something of an X-factor; if he measures up once the Govs take the field, Austin Peay State University will have at least six trustworthy hands among the wide receivers and that is what’s known as a good problem.
Zetts Perception: “They give us a lot of versatility. They make us go in a lot of ways, because of how much you have to account for them. All those guys are really intelligent, so you can put a lot on them and they’ll respond. They’ve welcomed that, and Coach Bump does a phenomenal job getting those guys ready and dialed in. It makes my life a lot more fun, to have those weapons; it’s a luxury to have guys like this, where you can just put them in a position to get the ball in their hands and let them do the rest. They make the most of their touches and opportunities.”
2020 APSU Returnees / 2019 Stats
Justyn Baker (R-Soph.) / Did not play
JP Batarseh (R-Jr.) / 3 games
AJ Carter (R-Sr.) / 7 games, 8 carries, 18 yards as a RB
Justin Gibbs (R-Soph.) / Injured, did not play
Baniko Harley (Sr.) / 15 games, 53 catches, 839 yards, 7 TD receptions; 4 rushing TD and a passing TD as well
Darius Nalls (R-Soph.) / 3 games
Geordon Pollard (Soph.) / 10 games, 3 catches, 31 yards, 1 TD
Jay Parker (R-Soph.) / 2 games, 3 catches, 13 yards
Talen Rucker-Dailey (R-Fr.) / Redshirt
Gorel Soumare (R-Sr.) / 15 games, 10 catches, 163 yards, 1 TD
DeAngelo Wilson (Sr.) / 15 games, 89 catches, 1,564 yards, 15 touchdowns, All-American (STATS FCS Second-Team, Associated Press Second-Team, HERO Sports First-Team), Second-Team All-OVC
2020 APSU Newcomers
Throughout fall camp, LetsGoPeay.com will take a look at each of the position groups as the Austin Peay State University football team goes through preparations for the 2020 season. Switching gears to the offense, let’s have a look at the dynamic duo that heads the wide receiver corp for the Govs… and the wealth of talent supplementing the pair.