Absence leaves Owls thin at WR

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, September 06, 2007

BOCA RATON Florida Atlantic's receiving corps took another hit Wednesday, and the Owls won't have a backup at one of the receiver slots when they play at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said staring receiver Cortez Gent will miss Saturday's game to attend his grandfather's funeral.


The Owls' receiving corps was already reeling from injuries, most recently sophomore Avery Holley, who is likely out for the year with a knee injury received in Saturday's victory against Middle Tennessee.

"That puts us a little short-handed," Schnellenberger said Wednesday.

Before pre-season training camp began, receiver wasn't an issue for the Owls. Both starters from 2006 were returning, and several young players were waiting for a chance to perform.

Things changed during the first week of camp. Frantz Simeon, a junior who was the leading receiver in 2006, was ruled academically ineligible. Chad Wilkes, the other starter, pulled a hamstring which caused him to miss the season-opener.

FAU will only use three players listed as receivers against the Cowboys, but may use more formations that employ more than one tight end.

Schnellenberger went with younger receivers against Middle Tennessee, but he wasn't happy with the results, which included several dropped passes and mental mistakes.

"Being able to handle something like that can be a surprise," Schnellenberger said. "Game experience is tough to handle with some consistency."

This week's starting receivers will be redshirt sophomores Conshario Johnson and Chris Bonner, who did not start against Middle Tennessee because of a thigh muscle he strained during training camp.

"We left a lot of yardage on the field," said Bonner, who had two catches for 32 yards. "We had some miscues, but we're working on them and getting our timing down for this week."

In his first game with many new pass catchers, FAU quarterback Rusty Smith was 12-of-26 passing for 195 yards.

True freshman Lester Jean is the other only receiver who will see action, although tight ends Jamari Grant, Jason Harmon and Rob Housler could play receiver.

Wilkes, who started eight games last season, practiced Wednesday but likely won't play Saturday, is missed.

"He's an upper classmen and has some speed," Smith said of Wilkes.

"Having Chad back on the field as soon as possible is something we need."