WINNING TRIO: Three Troy Trojan receivers playing critical roles in gameplay this football season
Published 3:30 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015
A trio of Troy Trojan wide receivers is putting to rest any questions about how effective the receiving corps would be this season.
Senior Jarvis Bentley, John Johnson and Ismail Saleem are proving important pieces of the roster and could play critical roles as the Trojans start conference play this Saturday by hosting the University of South Alabama Jaguars.
Saleem entered camp as a nervous freshman but has gained more and more confidence as the season moves along.
“I think with those guys, the biggest thing we keep talking about is attention to detail,” said Troy wide receiver Cornelius Williams. “I think if they continue to do that, we’ll have a chance to be really, really good on the outside. I think each week they try to do that, and they’ve gotten better. You can see just from yesterday’s practice that their focus is a lot higher this week.”
Although his numbers have yet to jump off the page, Saleem’s performance against Wisconsin leads people to believe he can be an x-factor in the Trojan offense. After picking up one reception for nine yards in the first two games, Saleem hauled in five passes for 47 yards against Wisconsin.
“At first, Ish was kind of like you said, that deer-in-the-headlight look,” Williams said. “At the same time, he came out there and showed glimpses of doing some good things. This season, he’s gone out there and done a really, really good job. He has to get a little better on the perimeter blocking-wise and just be really, really scrappy. He’s gone out there and does what he’s supposed to do as a young guy.”
Where Saleem may lineup in the future is up for discussion. As for now it looks like playing inside is part of his immediate future.
“He was last year,” said Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield. “Most of the time, they do start off inside. Really, what we try to do, Ish started off inside this summer. That’s where we were going to play him, but we thought we needed some extra speed outside. That’s kind of how we do it. We see where their strengths are.”
Perhaps one of the more intriguing players on the Trojan roster is Bentley. The 6-foot 5-inch senior is slowly growing into his big frame and starting to make a difference in the Trojan offense.
“ “Without question, he does have a physical advantage a lot of times,” said Troy head coach Neal Brown. “Now, it’s up to him when to use that advantage. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. The last two football games, he’s made some really solid plays. He had a big drop against Wisconsin on third down, but other than that, he’s been consistent. He’s playing hard, and that’s what we ask of him.”
Bentley broke out two weeks ago against Wisconsin and career highs in both completions and yards.
“I guess it was great,” Bentley said. “I was just playing hard. I could have done a whole lot better, but I am tough on my self when it comes to stuff like that because I could always do better.”
Bentley has been battling for spot with Charles Henderson graduate Johnson and has moved over to the X slot. Johnson will be backing up Bryan Holmes, who returns after missing some time after hurting his leg late in the first half against North Carolina State in week one.
“John has worked both sides, Edenfield said. “I really wouldn’t say that’s a shakeup. He’s worked both sides with Bryan being limited some. John has been able to switch to both sides. It’s given us a little extra depth right there.
Johnson has a total of eight catches this season for a total of 105 yards. Like Bentley and Saleem, Johnson will be relied on to play some needed snaps especially if Holmes continues to battle his injury.
With the conference schedule getting underway Saturday, the Trojans will rely on these three receivers to continue to produce on the field.