UND 2018 Position By Position: Wide Receivers

My position by position breakdown chugs on here as we take a look at UND’s prospects at wide receiver in 2018.

When Bubba Schweigert took over four years ago, UND was coming off one of the best wide receiving corps in UND history.

UND might have had plenty of struggles under Chris Mussman but he did recruit Greg Hardin, R.J. McGill, Kenny Golladay, Jameer Jackson and Blair Townsend. That was one heck of a receiving corps. I think it could have been the best in the FCS.

During the coaching changeover, Jackson and Golladay transferred and UND got really thin at wideout for a few years.

I expected UND’s wide receivers to have a better year in 2017, but when a team struggles overall you see the domino effect in a lot of different ways. It was also an under-the-radar injury that had a pretty big impact in Luke Stanley, who could never shake an injury last year.

In 2018, UND will return Noah Wanzek and Travis Toivonen. Those two juniors-to-be are rock solid, with Wanzek having a breakout year as a possible all-Big Sky kid. He had 52 catches for 648 yards and five touchdowns.

These guys are going to have a new quarterback throwing them the ball, and we don’t know who that is yet so that’ll have a significant impact on the numbers moving forward.

UND loses to graduation Demun Mercer, Stetson Carr and Josh Seibel. All three of those guys had really nice moments in their career but didn’t produce consistently. Injuries had a big part in that, of course, too, especially for Seibel, who was a true walk-on success story. I get the feeling Stanley could be in a similar situation to Seibel. He didn’t seem to improve health-wise down the stretch.

So the big question for this position group in 2018 is who emerges beyond Wanzek and Toivonen?

I’m going to say my pick to click is Mikey Griebel, who redshirted last year because he had a leg injury in fall camp that lingered too long to pull his redshirt. He’s a tough kid who makes people miss. He’s a little guy, but I think UND can do something with him if they can get him the ball in space. They might also be able to teach him how to catch punts, which would be a nice addition for a team that has struggled at that position from time to time over the past few years.

My question marks are Izzy Adeoti and Cam McKinney. If they step up, it could cure a lot of concerns at the position group. If not? The unit could look a lot like 2017, which isn’t bad but not great.

Adeoti played in 10 games but had just eight catches for 93 yards last season after having a huge fall camp, which led me to believe he’d have a big year. Some of the struggles for Izzy, though, are to be expected for a true freshman playing his first year of college football. He has the athletic tools, no doubt. I can see him having a breakout sophomore year.

McKinney is also an intriguing athlete. He had a cast on his arm most of the fall, so it was tough to see how he was coming along. Somewhat of a concern, though, is it was quite obvious he had moments of looking a little disengaged on the sideline. I’m sure the staff has chatted with him about that this offseason. If his head’s on straight, he can be a factor in 2018.

The rest of the position group has some walk-on longshots. It sounds like Chad Bartosh, the pride of Grand Forks Red River, is hanging it up. Easton Erbes needs to pack on some weight, but he’s a kid to root for if you like the longshot to success story. Jack Pifer and Peter Lindgren are local talents that need polishing.

That brings us to the recruits. By all accounts, Minnesota prep Garett Maag could be a good one. I think he’s more in the mold of a Travis Toivonen. He’s a really good basketball player — a big kid who can jump. My guess is he plays in 2018, if for no other reason than to provide some insurance in case Toivonen or Wanzek go down.

If you’ve been watching on Twitter, UND has been offering a few junior college kids lately and there are a couple of wide receiver targets. UND could go for more speed on the perimeter. Toivonen and Wanzek are reliable, impressive players but they don’t exactly offer the make-you-miss on quick hitters. We’re coming up hot on the early signing period.

I’ll give you a darkhorse, just for fun. I think Brad Heidlebaugh‘s days at quarterback are numbered. Can he be another big-body wideout target? Could be interesting.

So we’ve looked at who’s coming, who’s going and who they need, but I’d love to hear anybody’s thoughts out there. Hot takes welcome.

7 Responses

  1. Griebel family

    Hey Tom…. Enjoying the position previews….Expecting the Hawks to bounce back strong in ’18……spell check on Mikey…… It should be —-> Griebel. Hopefully you will be typing it a lot these nex 4 yrs. 🙂 Merry Christmas to ALL in HawkNation from the Griebel family in Colo. GO HAWKS !!

  2. Terry Wanzek

    Hi Tom. Noah was starting to heat up last 4 games with 28 catches, 342 yards & 3 td’s. More than half of his annual stats! I know I’m biased, but knowing Noah I predict, barring injury, he will be bigger, stronger & faster next year. He’s only 19 years old! Uncle Terry.

  3. Outwide

    Hey Tom. I think the success of a position group like WR is mostly hinges on the success of the OL and QB. It’s pretty easy to waste good players at the WR and RB positions when other spots are a let down. The Hogs need to make huge strides for our skill guys to have any success.

    To your comp of Maag to Toivonen. I think Maag is a different breed of athlete. Travis is obviously a good player but slower than molasses in January. Maag seems to glide down the field. I think he’s actually got some good wheels. I don’t think there’s a comparison to a player on our current roster. He’s gonna be a good player for us no doubt.

    1. Tom

      Nothing official, but that’s the vibe I get from watching practices. It’s really too bad. He was an underrated talent. He was a great find as a PWO out of Wisconsin.

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