Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
CMU Spring Football Spotlight: Wide Receivers
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan wide receivers coach Mose Rison considers himself fortunate.

In his second year on head coach Dan Enos’ staff, the former First Team All-MAC running back at CMU has at his disposal a group of wide receivers that would be the envy of many coaches at the Division I level. And this is without all-time great Cody Wilson, whom Rison speaks of in glowing terms, not only as a player but also as a leader and a person.

Rison’s 2013 collection of receivers has two of the main elements required for getting production from the position – talent and depth.

Headlining the CMU wide receiving corps is Titus Davis, whom Rison considers to be the best receiver he has ever coached. That is high praise from a 30-year coaching veteran whose resume includes stops at several BCS schools, mentor to a Biletnikoff Award winner, and stints in the NFL.

In two years at Central Michigan, Davis has quickly established himself as one of the conference’s most dangerous and explosive offensive weapons. A Second Team All-MAC performer in 2012, he had a team-high 860 receiving yards and his 20.0 yards per reception average ranked No. 1 in the nation among receivers with 40 or more catches. Davis already ranks No. 6 in the CMU record book in touchdown receptions, catching eight in each of his first two seasons.

Titus Davis is a very special football player,” said Rison. “He’s got size, he’s got speed, and he has tremendous hands. He can run routes and he can sink his hips. And he has all the intangibles to be a great football player some day. He will have an opportunity to play on Sundays. He is as good as they come.”

But for Rison, Davis is just the tip of the talent iceberg.

Jerry Harris, who started the first two games of the season last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, has been granted a sixth year of eligibility and will be back. Courtney Williams has caught 45 balls and seven touchdowns in two seasons at CMU. Andrew Flory flashed big play potential versus Eastern Michigan and in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl last season. Jesse Kroll, at 6-2, 218 lbs., recently ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and has shown a knack for big plays, evidenced by his onside kick recovery in the upset of Iowa.

“(Jerry) has good size, he can run, and he has good hands,” said Rison. “He has really developed. Courtney Williams is a big, strong wide receiver. He doesn’t run like Titus or Jerry, but, at the same time, he has tremendous hands and can catch the football. He is strong and powerful. Then, you take a kid like Andrew Flory who has developed and really showed what he could do as a redshirt freshman. Then you have Jesse Kroll. He is running like he’s never run before. He’s smooth coming off his cuts and he has a better feel for what we are doing offensively.”
But the riches continue for Rison, as he is high on two of his other players, senior Defarrel Davis and redshirt freshman Anthony Rice.

“Defarrel has come a long way since we took him out of community college. It took him some time to adjust to doing things the way we do. But when you look at where he’s come from and where he is right now, I need to find a way to get him on the field. I can’t have him be a senior and standing on the sidelines.”

Anthony Rice was a true freshman last year and he got a lot of reps doing those bowl practices. So, he, in his own right, has improved tremendously. If I put him in a ball game, he would not be overwhelmed at all.”

With all those receiving options and only so many balls to go around, one might think that infighting would reign. Not the case says Rison.

“They love each other and they like playing together. If you happen to be the guy that got open, and the quarterback happens to see you in terms of his reads, then that’s where he’s going with the ball. I tell them, ‘when you get our opportunity take advantage of it then and there.’ If the opportunity presents itself and the ball is thrown your way, you have got to catch it and make the play. When we didn’t have Titus last year, Andrew Flory understood that when Titus came back he would still be the starter. There is a level of respect and understanding among the group.”

While his receivers have many strengths and appear poised for another productive season, Rison is stressing further development this spring and he has established a set of specific goals upon which to work. He would like to see them improve as blockers in the run game, which will be key with 1,400-yard plus rusher Zurlon Tipton back in 2013. He wants them to work on getting to the designed depth of their routes and getting better second level releases. So far, so good this spring, according to Rison.

“We’ve done a nice job; it’s been a great six practices already. I love the progress we have made and I want to make sure I increase the number of guys I can send out there and be productive. I am excited where we are at right now, but I am more excited that we still have nine practices to go so we can improve and make our team great.”

With Rison’s strong leadership coupled with his players’ natural gifts and their desired to continually improve, the present and the future of the wide receiver position at CMU is secure.

“We are going to have a chance to make some plays,” said Rison. “I don’t care who we play, where we play, when we play, we should never be intimidated. We have speed, we have size and I look forward to the sweet things that lie ahead.”