When you talk about all-time great Utes wide receivers, the names Dyson, Warren, Rowley, Reed, and Smith are some that come to mind. Over the years Utah has had really good wide receivers, but the team has been more of a ground and pound program with the likes of running backs Carl Monroe, Jamaal Anderson, Mike Anderson, Eddie Johnson, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, and John White IV. What a lot of Utes fans probably don't realize is that there is a player on campus that could threaten an all-time mark in the Utah record books.
Dres Anderson came out of Riverside, Calif. as a three-star recruit, and if you've ever watched a Utah game on TV, you've probably heard (once or twice) that he's the son of former UCLA and NFL wide receiver Willie "Flipper" Anderson. Dres Anderson came to Utah in the same class as fellow wide out Kenneth Scott, and they both redshirted their first year on campus (although Scott's was due to injury). Anderson, when he arrived, had a lot of promise and potential with his speed and playmaking capabilities. It appeared that Utah had their replacement for the outgoing David Reed, who just set the single season receiving record at Utah.
Expectations have been high for Anderson since the day he got on campus. Even Coach Whittingham has stated before this past season that he didn't think Dres was living up to his potential and still thinks fans have yet to see his best.
Each year that Dres has been on campus, he has improved. In 2011, he had 23 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns. In 2012 he had 36 catches for 365 yards and three touchdowns. And in 2013 he had 53 catches for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year, Anderson had one of the best yards-per-reception average in the nation with 18.9 yards per catch. Now going into his fifth year as a Ute, he is currently 12th all-time in receiving yards for Utah with 1,722 yards, just ahead of recent Utes Devonte Christopher and Brent Casteel.
Bryan Rowley currently holds the Utah all-time record for receiving yards with 3,143 yards, the next closest is Kevin Dyson with 2,726. That means that Dres needs 1,421 yards to match Rowley's record. He'd need to average almost 118 yards per game to break the record and move into number one all-time. To move into number two, which is far more likely, Dres would have to rack up 1,004 yards and average 83 yards per game, which is essentially the same stats he put up last season (1,002 yards and 83.5 yards per game).
Going into 2014, things are lining up for Anderson to possibly take the top spot, or at least threaten it. First, Travis Wilson is coming back and should be healthy, which is great for Dres because Wilson loves to push the ball down field to him. If Wilson is able to get back to the level he was able to play at in 2013, Dres should get the chunk yards that he did in 2013.
Second, he will have some help. In 2013, once Jake Murphy went down, defenses were able to bracket Dres and really limit his impact on the game. That's what happened in the second half of last season, and Dres' productivity dropped. In games with some help (Jake Murphy), Dres averaged 96.25 yards per game. In games where Dres didn't have the help he needed, he averaged 58 yards per game. Going into 2014, Dres should have some help on the outside to help lift some of the attention off of him. The return of Kenneth Scott and Weslee Tonga from injury, plus the addition of JC transfer Kaelin Clay, should keep defenses honest and give Dres a lot more one-on-one match ups.
And lastly, the addition of Taylor Stubblefield as wide receiver coach should help Dres. Stubblefield has been helping all of the wide outs with route running, technique, and attention to detail. For as good as Dres was last season, he easily left a couple hundred yards on the field with a number of drops. Coach Stubblefield's improvement of route running alone has had an impact on Dres' pass catching, which made him more sure handed this past spring. Plus Offensive Coordinator Dave Christensen is bringing a high-paced, precision-based offense featuring four- and five-receiver sets, which provides the potential for additional receptions. If that translates into the fall, then 1,400 yards isn't out of the realm of possibility.
It was just a few weeks ago we talked about the Mount Rushmore for Utah football. If Dres Anderson goes out in 2014 and gets 1,400 yards and breaks the record, he'd thrust his name into that kind of conversation. Not only that, but that'd mean Utah's offense was more productive, Travis Wilson (presumably) remained upright and healthy, Utah was able to break through in some tough games they've lost in the past, and it also means that Dres Anderson continues to follow in his Dad's footsteps, by getting drafted into the NFL.
Here are some highlights from Dres Anderson, just to remind fans of his speed and talent.
Utah football's top-20 all-time statistical wide receivers.