Discover more from VolumePigs
CFF Targets - This FAU Owl may be in for the season of his life in 2023
Tom Herman's track record of Volume Pigs at slot receiver has my attention on LaJohntay Wester this season
A wise man in CFF once said “you’ll never go broke betting on players from Florida”, indeed, these are wise words to live by. I’ll take it a step further though, when betting on south Florida standouts, you’ll find yourself cash-in-hand more often than not.
LaJohntay Wester (5’11, 165) was an unranked recruit coming out of Miami powerhouse Palmetto High when he arrived at FAU. Despite some productive seasons for the Owls, he remains under the radar for most CFB fans. Wester doesn’t even have 1000 followers on twitter for Christ’s sake. There are fantasy football analysts I know who have multiple thousands of those.
Wester was so underrated in high school that as far as I can tell he doesn’t even have a 247 profile, which is odd, considering it appears he played at a pretty top notch high school program that is known for producing football players. Regardless, he has proved his mettle in the collegiate ranks, and he had his most productive season last year, catching 62 passes for 719 yards and 8 TDs, as well as rushing the ball 15 times for 106 yards and another score. Wester also put up this epic performance back in 2021 against Middle Tennessee State:
It’s a remarkable performance for two reasons: 1) he caught 14 passes, and 2) he still didn’t go over 100 yards receiving. In 2022, he went over 100 yards twice, and had a deadly stretch of games from September to October 1st, where he caught at least 1 TD in each game.
Curiously, he would not catch a TD pass in his last six games of the 2022 season, but he would record a rushing score during that period.
Now, in 2023, the head coaching position is getting a major upgrade (from a CFF standpoint, that is).
New HC Herman brings elite CFF system to FAU
Few would recognize him from the above picture, but it is indeed former overweight Texas Longhorn head coach Tom Herman. He looks like he’s adjusting to south Florida well, and I think his offensive philosophy is going to suit the roster he inherits well also.
Herman had tremendous success with slot WRs during his Texas tenure. Between 2018 and 2020, the slot receiver never caught less than 9 TD passes, and in Herman’s last two full seasons at UT (2018 and 2019) the slot WR averaged 96 catches and 1281 yards. It was Devin Duvernay in 2019 that led UT from the slot with a 106-1386-9 stat-line following Lil Jordan Humphrey’s 86-1176-9 contribution from the slot in 2018.
In his two years at Houston before UT (2015-2016), Herman’s WR1 went over 1000 yards each season (1118 and 1222, respectively). Coincidently, each of those players (Demarcus Ayers and Linell Bonner) both caught 98 passes when they led the Cougs in receiving. Bonner was the slot receiver in 2016, Ayers in 2015.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Herman now inherits a roster where the best returning skill player on offence is his slot receiver LaJohntay Wester. The concern is that former Owls QB N’Kosi Perry is no longer part of the roster, leaving a question mark of who will be throwing Wester the ball next season. All four of the QBs currently on FAU’s roster are former transfers. You have: Daniel Richardson (CMU), Ben Ballard (Texas), Michael Johnson Jr. (Penn St.) and Tyriq Starks (Independence C.C. — shoutout Last Chance U). I have firsthand experience seeing Richardson as he started several games for CMU in the past, I’m not sure him winning the job would be great for Wester’s outlook in 2023.
I don’t know much on the remaining three. Tyriq Starks intrigues me on first glance as I was a big fan of the show Last Chance U, which featured Independence C.C. In his last season of play, which was fall 2021, he threw 1342 yards and 13 TDs in 10 games. That does not inspire a lot of confidence from me.
Ballard has yet to play any significant college football, so he is a total unknown at this point. Judging from the fact that he was a no-star recruit (according to 247) in the class of 2019, I’m guessing he was a walk on at UT.
Then we have Michael Johnson Jr., another from the class of 2019, and who has also yet to play any significant snaps at the collegiate level. He did have a prolific high school career though, throwing 7300 yards and 86 TDs with another 3463 rushing yards and 48 scores. Crazy stats of the day: he had his best throwing season in terms of yardage his freshman year in high school, and his best in terms of TDs was his sophomore season.
I have no idea what to expect from this room, which is a buzzkill, because the other key ingredients are in place to produce an exceptionally fat volume pig for the Owls in 23. QB is the only thing holding Wester back as far as CFF outlook right now. My guess is that Richardson wins this position to open the season, which might not be as bad as my early thinking. Former FAU QB Perry struggled immensely at Miami before joining the Owls. Key difference being, Perry downgraded competition level, we’ve seen what Richardson can do at a low G5 level already.
If it turns out that somehow the Owls have a good QB for this upcoming season then it is hard for me to discern between Wester’s profile and many of the other ‘top’ CFF WRs headed into 2023. Since the QB position is a major question mark I think no earlier than a mid round grade is a fair assessment for him. The profile of the infrastructure in place is still very strong, I’ll be interested to see what spring reports say regarding the QBs.
If you enjoy this content please share, subscribe and follow me on twitter!
VolumePigs is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.