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Scouting Combine Receivers: Duvernay Runs with Anger

Part 2 of our six-part preview of the receivers includes Texas’ Devin Duvernay, South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards, Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson.
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Part 2 of our six-part preview of the receivers includes Texas’ Devin Duvernay, South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards, Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson.

Isaiah Coulter, Rhode Island* (6-3, 190): Coulter caught 132 passes in three seasons, including 72 receptions for 1,039 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019.

Coulter and fellow Rhode Island receiver Aaron Parker – who’s also at the Combine – are cousins. “It’s still a bit of an unknown story, having two cousins at the same position. Their family has done well by our football program and certainly, the university has done well by their family. We are very happy to have Aaron and Isaiah together here,” URI coach Jim Fleming told the Boston Herald. “We spent most of the holidays together,” Coulter said in this CAA-produced video. “Very competitive. He stated playing football before me and I was always going to his games, so he got me playing football – inspired me, basically.” An uncle, Walter Easley, played in the NFL. The cousins would spend the summer at his West Virginia home.

Gabriel Davis, Central Florida* (6-3, 212): Davis caught 152 passes for 2,447 yards and 23 touchdowns in three seasons. As a junior, he caught 72 passes for 1,241 yards (17.2 average) and 12 touchdowns.

“Gabe is very focused on what he wants to accomplish individually,” coach Josh Heupel said before the season. “He goes about that with extra film time in the meeting room and when we get done working out in the summer, he’s the first guy back out catching balls out of the Jugs [machine],” Heupel said. “He’s kind of spearheaded that group of guys who try to emulate him and act like a pro does.” Visions of the top prospects in this draft class filled his mind en route to a 73-yard touchdown in an October game against UConn. “All I know is that when I caught the ball, I thought of all the other guys like [Alabama’s] Jerry Jeudy, [Oklahoma’s] CeeDee Lamb and [Clemson’s] Justyn Ross making big plays like that,” Davis told the Orlando Sentinel. “… That was literally what was going through my head when I caught the ball. I had to do the same thing that those guys were doing.” His start in football didn’t go so well. “The funny thing is when he started, the first week of little league is about conditioning but that second week it was time to put on the pads and hit somebody and he didn’t like it,” his mother told the Orlando Times. “I went to his room the next day and he was crying, and he said that he didn’t like it. I think it was that physical contact that made him think twice about it.”

Quartney Davis, Texas A&M* (6-2, 200): Davis redshirted after tearing an ACL in 2016 and didn’t catch a pass while dealing with shoulder problems in 2017. In his final seasons, Davis finished just shy of 100 catches, with 45 as a sophomore and 54 as a junior. His career marks were 99 catches for 1,201 yards (12.1 average) and 11 touchdowns.

"I've put in so much work, stayed faithful and just kept on working and working," Davis told the Houston Chronicle at the start of the season. "I feel like this is the right time for me.” His position coach at Langham High in Houston was Milton Wynn, a former NFL receiver who was drafted in the fourth round by the Rams in 2001. “He wants to play. He works out in the athletic period and then he comes back in after school and get another workout in,” Langham Creek head coach Todd Thompson said in 2016. “Then he goes to track practice and he will go work with a speed coach to work on his footwork. It’s all day for him, nonstop.”

Devin Duvernay, Texas (5-11, 210): Duvernay had a monster senior season with 106 receptions for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. He was third in the nation in receptions and second in receptions per game (8.1). In an early-season game against LSU, he caught 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. His four-year totals were 176 receptions, 2,468 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also was a five-time member of the Big 12 honor roll.

Athletics are in his DNA. His twin brother, Donovan, is a defensive back for Texas who will be a redshirt senior in 2020. Among other family ties are being cousins with Kyler Murray. He was a Texas state champion in the 100-meter dash in high school. He’s not just a track guy in pads, though. "The anger he runs with once he has the ball in his hands and the physicality is so impressive for a slot receiver," Texas coach Tom Herman said. "I'm glad he's on our team." He met LSU’s stud safety, Grant Delpit, and lived to tell about. “It’s definitely a cool moment,” Duvernay said. “You look for top-notch people to try to punish them.” He has outstanding hands and a quiet confidence that helped him thrive in the slot. “The transformation for him from outside receiver to slot has been great,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “This is his last year, so he’s taken it as a personal challenge.”

Bryan Edwards, South Carolina (6-3, 215): With four robust seasons, Edwards recorded 234 receptions for 3,045 yards (13.0 average) and 22 touchdowns to pass Sterling Sharpe and Alshon Jeffrey as the top receiver in school history. As a senior, he had a career-high 71 catches, which he turned into 816 yards (11.5 average) and six scores despite missing the end of the season with a knee injury. He had career-best numbers of 15.4 yards per catch and seven touchdowns as a junior. “He continues to set every record at that position here at the University of South Carolina,” coach Will Muschamp told the Post and Courier. “You think about some of the greats that have played here, and Bryan is certainly in that category.”

Greatness was projected at an early age for the native on Conway, S.C. “Every time he touched the field, he did something special,” a former coach told the State, thinking back to Edwards’ middle school days. “Other than his size, his ability really stood out as a man among boys at that time. So, we felt like he would be special when he hit high school.” He elected to come back for his senior year. “I want anybody, whether they are from Conway, Myrtle Beach or wherever in South Carolina to know that they can do anything,” Edwards told MyHorryNews.com. “Just because you are from a small town doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish anything.” He became a father in August. “You have to think that it’s not just about you anymore,” he told the Athletic. “You have to think about the person that is coming behind you and the kind of legacy you want to leave for them.”

Chris Finke, Notre Dame (5-10, 184): Finke caught 49 passes for 571 yards as a junior and 41 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He had a career mark of 8.2 yards on 73 career punt returns.

Finke walked on in 2015 and had 16 receptions in 2016 and 2017. In 2019, he was a semifinalist for the William Campbell Trophy – aka the Academic Heisman. Finke, who had to pay his way for his first couple seasons, was a team captain as a senior. “That means a lot to me knowing that so many of my teammates think that I’m cut out for the job. It’s a big job,” Fink told NDInsider.com. “To know that I have their faith and their trust means a lot to me. It’s a lot to live up to, so I’m looking forward to it.” If you doubt Finke, you might wind up on his Doubters List on his phone. Even an uncle is on that list, who laughed when the 155-pound high school senior announced he was going to walk on. His parents didn’t know about its existence until after he was put on scholarship. “We said, ‘What are you talking about?’” his mom said. “He said, ‘Oh, you know. I just keep track of some things. It’s like a challenge. Another challenge.’”

Aaron Fuller, Washington (5-11, 188): Fuller caught 159 passes for 2,051 yards (12.9 average) and 13 touchdowns in four seasons. His final two seasons were his most productive, with 58 catches for 874 yards and four touchdowns as a junior and 59 catches for 702 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He has a career mark of 8.1 yards per punt return, including an 87-yard touchdown as a senior.

Fuller, who wasn’t wanted by any of the schools from his home state of Texas, was allowed to wear No. 2 as a senior. That number had been worn by Chuck Carroll 90 years earlier and retired, but Carroll’s family allowed Fuller to wear it. “Coach (Chris Petersen) pulled me aside, and he had a little smirk on his face,” Fuller told Huskies New Era. “I was (thinking), ‘Oh, I messed up. What did I do?’ But he said, ‘I’ve been thinking about unretiring No. 2 and I’d like to give it to you if you’d want it.’ I was at a loss for words.”

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Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty (6-4, 220): Gandy-Golden finished his senior year ranked No. 4 in the country in receiving yards (1,396) and No. 5 in receiving yards per game (107.4). As a senior, he had 79 receptions for 1,396 yards (17.7 average) and 10 touchdowns to earn a place in the Senior Bowl. He became the first player in program history to record 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons (1,396 yards as a senior, 1,037 as a junior and 1,066 as a sophomore). He is the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,814), receptions (240) and receiving touchdowns (33).

Gandy-Golden didn’t begin playing football until his freshman year of high school. The big guy’s balance and flexibility comes from his gymnastics background. That’s the sport he competed in as a youth in Chicago as a way to keep him out of trouble. “My balance is definitely better because of the tumbling,” Gandy-Golden told the Daily Orange. “I’ve always been strong for my size but I have a better idea of how to jump and use my body.” He put himself on the map with 13 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns vs. Baylor in 2017. “It just shows because he has unbelievable balance. He can do all types of frontflips and backflips and all that type of stuff,” Liberty receivers coach Kyle DeArmon told the News and Advance. “All of that stuff transitions over to the football field mainly because of the balance that he has. He’s able to stay on his feet, he’s able to control his body to go up and make those type of catches.”

Antonio Gibson, Memphis (6-2, 221): Gibson played two seasons at Memphis. A receiver/running back, Gibson didn’t get many opportunities but he was a big play waiting to happen. In 2019, he caught 38 passes for 735 yards (19.3 average) and eight touchdowns and carried 33 times for 369 yards (11.2 average) and four scores. He also averaged 28.0 yards with one touchdown on kickoff returns. As a senior, only one player had more 50-yard plays than Gibson. For his career, 14 of his 44 offensive touches wound up in the end zone.

He is a man without a position, which is less of a problem today than in the past. He played running back at the Senior Bowl and carried 11 times for a game-high 68 yards but will work out with the receivers at the Scouting Combine. “I talked to a lot of teams that want to use me around. I don’t feel like they just want me to be a running back. You have to label me as something going into the draft and felt like this would be the best thing.” He showed a wicked spin move in the Senior Bowl. He started his career in junior college. “I’ve learned many things along the way and made way more family then I could ever imagine. At JUCO, I learned that everyone wants the same thing you want so you have to work 10 times harder to stand out and you can’t do it alone. When I got to Memphis, I had to learn that everyone had talent so what is going to make me get on the field. I had to take criticism and you can take that to heart or you can take it as motivation and go to work.”

Introducing the 55 Receivers

Part 1: Aiyuk, Bowden did it all

Part 2: Duvernay, Edwards and Gandy-Golden

Part 3: LSU's Jefferson among TD machines

Part 4: Lamb, Jeudy top receiver class

Part 5: Mims leads Texas trio

Part 6: Ruggs, Shenault produce big plays

Introducing the 30 Running Backs

Part 1 includes Cam Akers, Eno Benjamin and J.K. Dobbins

Part 2 includes Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Zack Moss

Part 3 includes D’Andre Swift and Jonathan Taylor

Introducing the 17 Quarterbacks

Part 1 includes Burrow, Eason, Fromm

Part 2 includes Gordon, Herbert, Hurts, Love

Part 3 includes Tagovailoa and two Wisconsin natives