BOZICH | Tape measure shows what Petrino values in Louisville's - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Tape measure shows what Petrino values in Louisville's new receivers

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Ja'Quay Williams, a former 4-star recruit, is a top contender to replace DeVante Parker at Louisville. Ja'Quay Williams, a former 4-star recruit, is a top contender to replace DeVante Parker at Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you wonder about the qualities Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee value in wide receivers, pull out your tape measures and scales.

Average size of the four senior U of L wideouts who completed their eligibility last season: 6 feet, 1/4 inch and 196 pounds.

Average size of the six primary recruits and transfers Petrino has added to his wide receivers this season: Try 6 feet 2 3/4 and 201 pounds.

Does size matter? No question.

That second set of numbers is deceiving. Traveon Samuel, a freshman from Phenix City, Ala., who packs 175 pounds on his compact 5-7 frame, tugs the average down.

Remember that four of the six are freshmen. Their bulk and strength will grow as they continue to cycle through the weight room.

Petrino prefers king-sized targets. Guys who can out jump and outmuscle miniature cornerbacks. Always has.

Unlike last season when Louisville lost its primary full-sized receiver after DeVante Parker broke his foot in August, the Cards could go four or five wide with guys all 6 feet 3 or taller.

“They’re very talented,” McGee said. “They’re big. Outside of Traveon, most of them are really big. Have the ability to jump, catch with their hands.

“We’re really excited about them. Devante Peete, Emonee Spence. Jaylen Smith (all freshmen), those guys have gotten a lot of work with Ja’Quay (Savage) and Jamari (Staples) being out for a few days. We really saw them develop.”

If you asked me to pick one player in the Louisville Receiver Star Watch, I’d draft Savage.

At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Savage looks the part. He’s no stranger to the weight room – and no stranger to big-time football.

His odyssey from Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Ga., (where he was a teammate of U of L cornerback Shaq Wiggins) to U of L is well chronicled.

He was a consensus pick as a Top 20 recruit at receiver in the nation, but don’t look for his profile, at least not as Ja’Quay Savage. He was Ja’Quay Williams.

He was committed to Auburn. Then he wasn’t. He played a season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. He signed with Texas A&M, when Johnny Manziel was still throwing spirals. He caught four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown while playing in 10 games.

He transferred and changed his last name.

Now it’s time to show that he is everything the recruiting gurus said he would become when his final eight schools included six from the Southeastern Conference as well as Oklahoma and USC. McGee and one U of L teammate seemed convinced that Savage will deliver.

“He’s a true playmaker,” said Charles Stanberry, one of the Cards’ tight ends. “When you think about playmakers, you always think about a guy who can stretch the field, a guy who can make those tough catches. When you want to think of that, you think of Ja’Quay.

“He’s a big, physical receiver who can stretch the field. He can also make tough catches in traffic. He’s a big-time playmaker.”

“Ja'Quay is just a really physical, strong receiver,” McGee said. “He understands how to track the ball and jump for the ball in the air.

“He’s one of those guys when he’s one-on-one you never want to overthrow him. You want to give him a chance at the ball because he understands how to track the ball and he can jump and catch. Just a very strong, powerful kid.”

After practice on Tuesday, Savage appeared more uncomfortable with the hype than he is running routes over the middle of the field.

“I just want to win like everybody else,” Savage said. “I think my teammates can count on me and I just want to win. I’m a winner. I’m big and physical. We’re going to see how Coach P can use me.”

A safe guess is that Bobby Petrino and Garrick McGee will use Ja’Quay Williams early and often.

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