Lost: Joe DelSardo
Returning: Derek Kinder*, Oderick Turner*, Marcel Pestano, T.J. Porter, Cedric McGee
Newcomers: Kyle Hubbard, Maurice Williams, Aundre Wright
Breakdown: Kinder, a first-team All-Big East pick, maintained his hold on one position but Turner appears to have lost his starting job. Pestano and Porter both passed Turner and are fighting for a starting job, while McGee is solid as a second-team receiver behind Kinder.
Positives: The Panthers have a deep and talented receiving corps, and Kinder has taken on a leadership role. Pestano and Porter add explosiveness to the passing game with their ability to run reverses, stretch the field and make yards after the catch. Turner is still a deep threat and a big target in the red zone. McGee is a sure-handed possession receiver capable of making tough catches over the middle.
Negatives: The worst that can be said about Kinder is that he failed to take his game to another level this spring. Neither Pestano nor Porter is regarded as a physical downfield blocker, although both showed they can take a hit. After a spectacular freshman season in which he had a team-best eight touchdown receptions, Turner was a mystery. Although he made some big plays, his inconsistency allowed the others to steal first-team reps.
X factor: While the Panthers have the luxury of being able to redshirt their freshmen this fall, Williams has the size and athleticism and Wright the speed to push for playing time. Williams, a converted quarterback, hasn’t played receiver since his sophomore year but is a natural. Wright has a season of prep school under his belt. Both could make their mark on special teams this season.
Projected starters: Derek Kinder, T.J. Porter. Kinder showed last season that he was an all-around performer, so defenses will be keying on him. Porter provides a dangerous complement and his quickness adds a dynamic to the offense that the others don’t have. No matter who starts opposite Kinder, Pestano and Turner will play a lot when the Panthers can use three- and four-receiver sets.