NMSU newcomers could develop into playmakers for Aggies offense

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    LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — The Aggies don't have a glaring need at wide receiver.

    In fact, New Mexico State's deepest position could be its receiving corp. What they do need in 2014 is a big play threat.

    Aggies coaches believe they have the ability to spread the ball around more this season with the dependability of returners Jerrel Brown, Adam Shapiro, Joseph Matthews and Joshua Bowen.

    "They have been in the offense for a year now," Aggies coach Doug Martin said. "The thing that I'm pleased with is they are making big catches for us. They have to be the guys who make the key third-and-8 catch where they are getting hit. That is what they are doing all through camp."

    Martin believes the Aggies can replace the big-play production of former Aggie standout Austin Franklin with redshirt sophomore Teldrick Morgan and redshirt freshman Gregory Hogan.

    "Last year we used (Franklin) everywhere just trying to get him the ball," Martin said. "He played in the slot and the outside and at times we even lined him up in the backfield and we are doing some of those things with Morgan now. We just have to go into every game with a set amount of plays to get the ball in their hands because those guys can make things happen."

    Franklin's 52 receptions last year led the Aggies. Bowen was second with 39, but Franklin played in four fewer games.

    "I think camp went well and I think we got better and I'm excited to start the season," Shapiro said. "It seems like the offense is coming together in the second year together. It's going to be fun to go against some different colored jerseys."

    Hogan and Morgan are each bigger players than Franklin with enough speed to get down the field.

    "We might have to do it (create big plays) by doing it by committee but I know that Morgan and Hogan have exemplified big play ability so I'm really excited about those two," NMSU receivers coach R. Todd Littlejohn said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that those guys show what we think they can show. They seem to make plays because of their athleticism that can turn simple plays into big plays."

    The Aggies have at least three wide receivers on the field for most of the game, but NMSU seems to have at least eight players capable of seeing the field.

    "We are all athletic in our own ways," sophomore Rayvean Moore said. "If you aren't a consistent guy, coach can't trust you. I have seen how the (veteran receivers) play through a season and in practice and the lack of mistakes is why they are on the field. Those are the kind of tendencies I need."

    Martin awarded Moore with a scholarship during fall camp. Moore is a 3.0 grade point average student as an international business major.

    "I was just focusing on being able to play in more games this year," Moore said. "Academics have helped me out a lot but it just shows all of the hard work I have been putting in paid off."

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    Sophomore quarterback Tyler Rogers was listed at the top of the quarterback depth chart and is expected to start in a week against Cal Poly at quarterback, Martin knows the Aggies need multiple quarterbacks.

    Freshmen Andrew Allen and Nick Jeanty will back up Rogers this season.

    "In a spread offense, your quarterback runs the ball and gets hit some so you have to have another guy ready," Martin said. "I think (Allen) brings more to the table as far as running. I would anticipate we will play at least one of them at some point in some capacity."

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    When asked what the biggest surprises of fall camp were, Martin highlighted freshman running back Larry Rose, freshman linebacker Dalton Herrington and punter Steven Witkowski.

    Rose was listed atop the depth chart at running back in the first two-deep depth chart.

    Herrington came to NMSU as a safety but was moved to linebacker, where he listed atop the first depth chart at weak side linebacker.

    "I knew he was going to be a good player," Martin said. "He has turned out to be a really solid player and he can only get better with all of the experience."

    Witkowski has emerged as the favorite at punter. Witkowski would replace fellow Australian Cayle Chapman-Brown.

    Martin said Witkowski has an Australian football background and that UCLA had expressed interest in him at one point.

    Martin also added that Witkowski can punt with each leg.

    "You can roll out to the right and kick or roll to the left and that can be a weapon," Martin said.

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