Utah’s Wide Receivers Taking Hits Before Season Starts

What was expected to be one of the most talented and deep position groups heading into fall received a double dose of bad news this week.

The University of Utah learned that one of the gems from their 2013 recruiting class would not be making it to campus because of academic ineligibility. Wide receiver Xavier Shepherd failed to complete one class which will keep him from joining the team this Summer. The Lakewood High School product was the only representative of the University of Utah to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, an all-star game of sorts for graduating high school seniors.

Shepherd has a few options to choose from as far as completing the class and joining either his teammates on the hill or taking his talents to junior college. He could decide to greyshirt this season for the Utes and participate in spring ball. He would still have four years of eligibility including a redshirt season if necessary. If he wants to play right away, he could finish the course and attend a junior college this fall. Then he would be required to complete his Associate’s Degree before returning to a D-1 roster. That would also give other schools another chance to land the wide receiver. He would also likely spend two years of eligibility by playing his freshman and sophomore seasons.

I don’t think this news is all that devastating for Utah as long as they can keep Xavier in the program. I expected he would redshirt this season anyway given the talent already firmly planted in this position group. If they lose his talents altogether, it could have a significant impact down the road considering the Utes only signed two wide receivers this class, the other being JUCO transfer Andre Lewis.

On the heels of the Shepherd news, however, came word that wide receiver Quinton Pedroza had been dismissed from the team for rules violations. Pedroza is already said to be considering his options including transferring out of the program to Hawaii or SMU.

The Pedroza loss will impact depth at the position this season but, in the longterm, may be less significant than the Shepherd news should he never end up in Salt Lake City. Pedroza has exactly zero catches in his two seasons on the hill. His name has appeared and then disappeared on and off the depth chart from week to week. Now, this could have been the season that Pedroza emerged as a wide receiver threat but it’s impossible to say. His ability was never questioned but the content between his ears always seemed to be in doubt.

I would venture to say that if Pedroza’s loss is Brian Allen’s gain, than these developments may actually be a positive for the program as opposed to a negative. Allen has an NFL body as a redshirt freshman and should, in my opinion, get more targets. Certainly Kenneth Scott and Dres Anderson will dominate the catches over the next two seasons. Andre Lewis comes in with all of the hype of a big-time player who could demand some of Travis Wilson’s attention. Delshawn McClellon is another young receiver with speed and ball skills.

My point is that, although you hate to see players dismissed for breaking rules, or not ever making it to school because of academics, I don’t think you’ll notice their loss this season and maybe not ever.

About the author

Matt Hugie

A graduate of Weber State University, my day job is journalism as the Assistant News Director for KPVI-TV based in Pocatello, Idaho. My passion is sports particularly the University of Utah. I’ve been going to games as long as I can remember and it’s the best way I know how to honor a loving father who took me to games when I was a young buck but passed on to the other side far too soon. Now I take my smokin’ hot wife at least until she gets too pregnant with our first to attend.

  • Sports Guy

    I am hoping that Shepherd finds a way to get himself eligible and can join the team ASAP, since this season is lost. I am looking forward to watching Dres and Kenneth this year. It seems that in their first two years, they have had to constantly adjust to different QBs, If Travis can manage to stay healthy, I can see these two getting between 700 and 1000 yards each.

    I am hoping that this year’s WR group can be similar in production to the Sugar Bowl year (we were so good that year, Brown, Casteel, Godfrey, Reed, Brooks, etc.)

    But if Scott and Anderson are “just” the next Warren-Savoy, I’ll take that too!

    • Matt Hugie

      Thanks for the comment. I didn’t mention Anthony Denham, but he certainly came with a lot of hype also. Maybe this is the year that he delivers on that praise. Andre Lewis was a great get and I look for him to join the team and contribute right away. Like I said in the article, Shepherd could be a significant loss down the road if he and Utah are forced to cut ties.