RUSTON – With a blend of experienced talent and impressive newcomers, the Louisiana Tech wide receiver room will have no shortage of competition and skill as the Bulldogs enter the 2023 season.
Louisiana Tech returns five wide receivers who tallied a reception in 2022 and added a handful of newcomers before fall camp.
Co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jake Brown credits his receivers and the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks for putting in the extra work outside of practice on their own time this spring and summer. Tech reported to camp last Thursday.
“We are way farther ahead than where we were at in the spring and summer,” Brown said. “The quarterbacks threw to the receivers almost every day in the summer. The work they put in shows so far with the camaraderie between the skill guys. It is enjoyable to watch the progression of them from the spring to now.”
Smoke Harris headlines the Tech receiver room, entering his sixth and final season in Ruston as one of the most accomplished and electrifying receivers in all of college football. Harris led Tech with 66 receptions while tallying 640 yards and five total touchdowns in 2022. Harris enters the season among NCAA active career leaders in receptions (3rd, 224), receptions per game (6th, 4.57), and receiving touchdowns (6th, 19). The St. Francisville product has recorded a reception in 32 consecutive games, the seventh-longest active streak nationally.
Sophomore Cyrus Allen had a breakout freshman season in which he averaged 22.7 yards per catch, the second most nationally among freshmen while ranking sixth nationally among all true freshmen in receiving yards with 500 yards. The New Orleans product also led all FBS freshmen in scrimmage plays over 30 yards with 10.
In the offseason, one of the most heralded transfer portal additions was Shreveport native and Nebraska transfer Decoldest Crawford. He was limited in the spring while working his way back from an injury he suffered as a true freshman with the Cornhuskers but has been impressive since getting back to speed in the summer.
“Decoldest has been great so far,” Brown added. “After he got cleared this summer, he had a great summer and put on good muscle. We forget he was a true freshman last year, so he is still young. He has learned fast, is very good in meetings, and loves football. He came in and fit right into our receiver room, and we are thrilled that he is here.”
Northwestern State reports
NATCHITOCHES – A day full of meetings. Checking in. Receiving gear.
In many ways, Tuesday represented a typical report day for the Northwestern State football team. However, there was a bit of a different vibe surrounding the Demons as they returned to campus.
The return came after a much shorter-than-normal break as most of the team remained on campus throughout June and July.
“It feels different – and that’s a good thing,” sixth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “The investment by the athletic department, starting with (Director of Athletics) Kevin (Bostian), to be able for them to be here this summer with (director of strength and conditioning) coach (Jason) Smelser was huge. Yes, they had a few days off – and it’s good to get back in the swing of things with practice – but you add eight or nine newcomers who weren’t here to the mix. It’s not the report day you’ve felt in the past because of what they’ve done in the summer.”
Demons’ players and staff took part in the report day traditions of hearing from members of the athletic administration, sitting through additional meetings and a meal provided by former NSU quarterback Kaleb Fletcher.
Those meetings only served to whet the appetite for the season.
“I feel like it starts today, but I’m extremely excited,” said junior safety Ronnie Caldwell, entering his second season as a Demon. “I don’t know how it feels to anybody else, but to me it’s crazy that we’re about to start a season.”
While the majority of the Northwestern State roster was on campus since the conclusion of the spring semester, things will ramp up today at 4 p.m. when the Demons hold their first practice of fall camp.