UW receiving corps among school's best

Updated: August 16, 2003, 4:26 PM ET

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- First there was Ryan Yarborough. Then came Marcus Harris. Wendell Montgomery wasn't too bad, either.

Those former University of Wyoming wide receivers were a big reason why the school, in recent years, garnered the nickname of Receiver U.

OK, maybe UW's sports information office came up with the name, but it seems to fit.

Harris (4,518) and Yarborough (4,357) rank second and third, respectively, in NCAA history for receiving yards. In UW's record books, Harris, Yarborough and Montgomery rank one, two and three, respectively in career yards and receptions.

This year's Cowboys may not have one receiver as talented or dominant as these three former greats. But as a collective group, they might just be one of the best UW has seen in quite some time.

"I think this is probably the best group that we've had since I've been here as far as talent and experience," said UW senior receiver Ryan McGuffey. "We have some good older guys and some younger guys coming up that are going to make some plays for us."

It all starts with McGuffey, one of UW's team captains the past two years. If his teammates vote him a captain following fall camp this year, he will become the first Cowboys player in 110 years of football to be named a team captain three consecutive years.

McGuffey led the Pokes in receiving during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons. During those seasons, he caught 128 passes for 1,447 yards and five touchdowns. But last season was a nightmare for McGuffey, not to mention the rest of the Cowboys, who finished with a 2-10 record.

McGuffey, who is from Riverton but whose parents now live in Cheyenne, suffered a concussion in UW's season-opener against Tennessee. He missed just one game, but never was able to get into a rhythm like he did his previous two seasons.

Also, McGuffey was involved in an auto accident following UW's 34-26 home victory over Air Force. Although McGuffey wasn't hurt, nor was anyone else involved in the accident, charges were filed against him. By the time all was cleared up, McGuffey had missed another game.

Although he showed glimpses of his old self at times, McGuffey caught only 35 passes for 417 yards in 2002. Still, McGuffey enters the season with a chance to trail only Harris and Yarborough on UW's career list for receiving yards and receptions.

"I'm really excited, especially after last year," McGuffey said. "Things didn't go the way I planned or how I wanted (last year). Fall camp couldn't have come quick enough."

But UW's receiving talent doesn't stop with McGuffey. As a redshirt freshman last season, Jovon Bouknight led the Cowboys with 63 catches and was second in yards with 689.

That effort earned the former prep quarterback out of Denver's Manual High Third Team Freshman All-American honors by The Sporting News.

Senior Malcom Floyd brings size to the group. At 6-foot-6, Floyd usually is a mismatch for opposing cornerbacks that often times are under 6-foot.

Floyd has played in every game since his redshirt freshman season, and will end his career ranked in the top 10 on UW's career receiving yards and receptions list.

The goals this unit has set for itself are as gaudy as its statistics. "To be No. 1 in the conference yards-wise, stats-wise and even (No. 1) in the country," Floyd said. "We want to catch every ball that's thrown to us and then score. All the good stuff."

Behind that talented trio are a couple of others waiting for their chance at stardom in sophomores Josh Barge and Dustin Pleasant. Barge played on special teams as a true freshman last year, while Pleasant caught 18 passes for 188 yards.

"I think we have a covey of good guys who are going to help," new UW coach Joe Glenn said. "Who's going to get the lion's share? I don't know.

"This is a great group, but we can improve yet. McGuffey's play has been outstanding in the early going. Jovon has made some great plays. I think Dustin Pleasant has improved a lot. I'd like to see Malcom catch the ball with his hands and get up a little higher and use his frame more. Josh Barge is smooth."

Glenn and new offensive coordinator Bill Cockhill bring a wide-open offense scheme to Laramie that will feature a lot of controlled passing. UW would like to run the ball more, but with this many proven receivers, and a senior quarterback in Casey Bramlet who could end his career as UW's all-time leading passer, look for plenty of passes to be flying through the air this season.

But it will largely up to the receivers how successful the passing game is.

"(The coaches) are putting it on the receivers to make certain reads and which routes to run," Bouknight said. "It's a whole lot better than our old scheme, and you can utilize it better on the field."

Glenn expects a lot from his receivers, but not just yards and touchdowns. He expects more, especially from McGuffey and Floyd.

"Your captains are your seniors, and your seniors need to lead," Glenn said. "I'm happy with that."

McGuffey said it would be a great honor if he were voted a captain for a third straight year. But voted a captain or not, McGuffey will be a leader and will try to change some things from the past couple of years.

"(As a captain) you put a lot of pressure on yourself you really shouldn't," he said. "You try to worry about things you really can't control. That's one thing this year that I'm trying to focus on and take care of what I can control.

"Also, take care of the receivers and have them take care of me. Everything else will take care of itself."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index