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Dick Harmon: Ute receiver, Cougar receiver projected to be among college football's most explosive performers

Published: Thursday, May 29 2014 10:30 a.m. MDT

Colorado defensive back Tedric Thompson (9) tackles Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) during the first half of a football game at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Utah won 24-17. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) Colorado defensive back Tedric Thompson (9) tackles Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) during the first half of a football game at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Utah won 24-17. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

It is a tale of circumstances.

Give Utah’s Dres Anderson the football in space, and the resulting explosion will create points. Find new BYU transfer Jordan Leslie in a seam or on a streak, and he's a "home run waiting to happen," to quote Gary Crowton from a long time ago.

What Anderson needs is a healthy, accurate quarterback.

What Leslie needs is chemistry with Taysom Hill.

Anderson’s dilemma is that the QB situation at Utah is a work in progress.

Leslie’s challenge is to cram a career’s worth of timing into one summer in Provo.

Both are projected to be two of college football’s most exciting playmakers in 2014, according to College Football 24/7's Mike Huguenin, who picked the players to shine in his ongoing feature “14 for 14.”

UTEP wide receiver Jordan Leslie pulls in a pass for a touchdown against Colorado State in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (David Zalubowski, Associated Press) UTEP wide receiver Jordan Leslie pulls in a pass for a touchdown against Colorado State in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (David Zalubowski, Associated Press)

Others on the list include Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates, Ohio receiver Chase Cochran, Duke receiver Jamison Crowder, Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs, Baylor receiver Antwan Goodley, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett and USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Anderson and Leslie have resumes to back up Huguenin’s projections.

Anderson’s road will be tougher because of Utah’s unsettled quarterback situation and the uncertain health of Travis Wilson. Plus, Utah has the tougher schedule.

Leslie, on the other hand, is stepping into a situation where BYU just lost its top three receivers: career reception leader Cody Hoffman, Skyler Ridley and JD Falslev. Top returners Ross Apo and Mitch Matthews are on the mend. Plus, Hill is an established playmaker.

Dres Anderson catches a touchdown during a University of Utah football scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, April 12, 2014,  in Salt Lake City.   (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Dres Anderson catches a touchdown during a University of Utah football scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Offseason chemistry with these two guys and their quarterbacks looms huge — right now through July.

Here’s Huguenin’s breakdown on these two local stars who only need a lit fuse.

On the Ute: “His full name is Dres Flipper Anderson and he's the son of former NFL WR Willie 'Flipper' Anderson (his first name is pronounced 'Drezz'). Dres Anderson tied for the national lead last season with seven catches of 50 yards or more and 10 receptions of at least 40 yards. He had 53 receptions overall — about 20 percent of them covered at least 40 yards. His per-catch average was 18.91 yards, third-best among players with at least 50 receptions (Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. were first and second). Three of his seven TD receptions covered at least 50 yards and another was a 49-yarder.”

On the Cougar: “Leslie spent his first three seasons at UTEP — he graduated with an engineering degree and is transferring to BYU for his final season. It's a smart move, as BYU needs a go-to receiver. It's a smart move, also, in that he is going from a mediocre (at best) program to one that has hopes of winning eight or nine games this fall. Leslie, who has excellent size, was one of 19 players last season that had at least two receptions covering 70 yards and was tied for second nationally with four receptions covering at least 60 yards. In 2012, he had five receptions of at least 50 yards (tied for fourth) and 13 of at least 30 yards (also tied for fourth). He averaged 19.1 yards per catch in 2012, the best average of any player in the nation with at least 50 catches.”

Utah needs Anderson to be productive and healthy, with the ball in his hands in the challenging South Division of the Pac-12. He’s a game-changer.

The Cougars need a Hoffman answer. Given Hill's running ability, being able to connect with Leslie, a more athletic player than Hoffman, would dictate what defenses are able to do against the Cougars.

For Anderson and Leslie, the next 70 days are an incubation chamber of sorts. This is the summer of their football lives.

Ironically, we won’t see them on the same field.

Sure would have been a nice ticket.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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