The Nevada Wolf Pack football team, which has undergone one of the biggest roster turnovers in recent Pack history, will start in less than 40 days against the New Mexico State Aggies!
Nevada lost its head coach to conference foe Colorado State, along with a slew of transfers. His top three skill threats – Carson Strong (more below), Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs – chose to go to the NFL and the Pack returns less than 30% of its one-year production, the lowest in the country, per ESPN.
Until the start of the season, I’ll be previewing every unit on his roster every week. We’ve done quarterbacks and running backs before — let’s move on to the wide receiver position, which has been gutted this offseason.
Let’s dive in!
The Doubs was one of the most decorated breakaways in recent Wolf Pack history. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, he combined for 2,111 yards on 138 catches with 20 receiving touchdowns in 2020-21, including 1,109 receiving yards (80 rec.) with 11 scores last season — including each was in the top 3 of the Montagne Ouest. During his career with Nevada, he rushed for 3,322 yards — fourth all-time — with 13 100-yard and two 200-yard performances. He also posted seven games with at least two touchdowns with a pair of three touchdowns in 2020. He was honored with All-Mountain West First Team in 2020 and 2021.
Stovall, Nevada’s third-leading passer a season ago, followed Norvell to Colorado State. He caught 56 catches for 643 yards — including seven for 155 and his only touchdown of his three-year career against New Mexico State. With Nevada, the 5-foot-9 wide had 108 career catches for 1,064 yards.
Lockhart burst onto the scene in 2020 after making just five catches for 33 yards as a rookie in 2019. In 2020, he added 27 catches for 241 yards and two scores and followed that up with 35 receptions for 470 yards and two scores last season. Against New Mexico State, he had seven receptions for 103 yards and a score. His only other touchdown came against Fresno State, when he added six catches for 83 yards.
Along with Stovall, Horton left for Colorado State. In two seasons, he staved off 10 total touchdowns — five each season. He finished his Wolf Pack career with 72 receptions for 995 yards, including 52 catches for 659 yards in 2021. He posted three 100-yard games and two with multiple touchdowns.
After being one of the conference’s best escapees in 2019, Cooks’ final two seasons with Nevada were hampered by injuries. He was limited to just four games combined with shoulder and foot injuries. In 2019, he led in team receptions (76), receiving yards (926), and receiving touchdowns (8). He joined Lockhart at SJSU.
Walters has entered the portal but has yet to find a new program. He played in just two games last season, having two catches for four yards.
That comes back ?
Bell is the Wolf Pack’s only returning receiver who has 15+ career catches at the Division-I level. He has 17 career receptions for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including 14 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown a year ago. He was Nevada’s leading receiver in the Quick Lane Bowl, adding seven catches for 75 yards and his only scoring. Bell did, however, earn All-Mountain West honors as a punt returner, adding 27 returns for 628 yards.
Paggett did not make an appearance with Nevada as a freshman in 2021. He had 20 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns as a junior at Lincoln High School in San Diego, Calif., choosing Nevada over the Lake Erie College and Southwest Minnesota State.
Smith has yet to play a game with Nevada after being redshirted in 2020. He picked the Wolf Pack from Colorado, Air Force, Army, Yale, Cal and Montana State, among others. As a senior at Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., he had 44 catches for 829 yards with three receiving touchdowns.
Mack transferred from City College of San Francisco to Nevada before last season. He appeared in five games, making just two catches for 27 yards. At City College of San Francisco, he had 26 catches for 459 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore.
Like Smith, he made a redshirt as a rookie in 2020 and has yet to make an appearance. Gradowitz joined the Pack on Bucknell, UC Davis and Eastern Washington, among others. He was an unranked Stockdale High School freshman, but had 968 combined receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through the air (12 total) in his final two years of high school, according to Max Preps.
Casteel was Arizona’s second-best receiver a year ago, with 33 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown. During his career, he had 880 yards (on 90 catches) with four receiving touchdowns. He should be one of the best forwards, barring injury, in 2022. Here’s what Mike Wittmann, Mountain West Connection site manager and recruiting guru, had to say about Casteel in the Nevada recruiting preview:
BJ transfers from Arizona to Nevada in this class. He has good hands and a knack for getting down with the ball when up against defensive backs. Casteel has a large size and once he is gone potential tacklers will bounce off him as he moves across the open field. He can be used in the short and deep passing game and has even made a few runs out of the backfield, where his straight-line speed is on display. BJ will be able to jump straight into game time for the Wolf Pack next fall.
Clark is one of many local Wolf Pack extras, hailing from Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nevada. He caught 19 passes for 190 yards in three seasons, but also had 57 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and one tackle. -for-loss.
Vargas, son of former Nevada great Chris Vargas, joins Clark from Damonte Ranch High School, despite playing one season at Sierra College. During his high school career, he caught 69 passes for 1,231 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Snow elected to join the team in January; he caught a 77-yard touchdown in the Wolf Pack’s spring game. According 247sports.comSnow was an unranked rookie, but attracted interest from Bucknell, Lehigh, Monmouth and Rhode Island, among others.
Curtis followed Wilson to Oregon, where he caught a 22-yard pass last season. He originally committed to Weber State before the 2017 season, but donned a red shirt and left for an LDS mission.
Here is what Wittmann said about Curtis:
Spencer is another wide transfer receiver in this class. It descends quickly, thanks to noticeable speed and an efficient course. Curtis fights hard to open up and wins the separation with his speed and physical nature. It is particularly effective on short trips and it can gain extra meters in space thanks to its elusiveness. Spencer looks like he could slip in as a slots receiver for Nevada.
As a senior at San Juan Hills High School in Santa Ana, Calif., he had 24 receptions for 392 yards and five touchdowns. He chose Nevada over Utah, Arizona, Illinois State, Nebraska, Purdue, TOS and the State of San Diego, among others.
Here’s what Wittmann said about the 6-foot-2 rookie, who was one of the best in the Nevada class:
Elijah is a very talented receiver who was fortunately still available for Wolf Pack signing. He goes down the field quickly and has great potential as a deep receiver thanks to his speed. Barclay excels at tracking the ball in the air and does a good job adjusting his routes and steps to ensure he gets under the ball. He is also active in screens and passes flat and is dangerous with the ball in space. Elijah has the potential to be a dynamic receiver if he can put it all together.
Keenan Speer Johnson
As a three-star freshman from Mountainside High School in Beaverton, Oregon, he chose Nevada over Kentucky, Maryland and Atlantic Florida. Here is what Wittmann said about Speer-Johnson:
Keenan is a big, long receiver who joins the Wolf Pack. He changes direction easily on cuts and his long strides help him separate from defenders on his runs and after the catch. Speer-Johnson can outplay jump receivers and point the ball well on jump balls, which can be especially effective in the red zone. He runs precise routes and has strong hands. Keenan has the potential to be a future building block for Nevada’s rebuilding program.