By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Terrance Williams' shoes as Baylor's go-to receiver were apparently so big that it takes two guys to fill them.
No other team in the country has two receivers ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards per game, much less the top 10. Baylor's dynamic duo of junior Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese are ranked second and seventh, respectively, combining for 48 catches for 1,278 yards and 12 touchdowns through the first five games.
"That's what me and Antwan talked about going into this season," said Reese, who has hauled in 23 catches for 609 yards and six TDs and is on pace for his fourth straight year of 45-plus receptions. "We didn't worry about having one go-to person. . . . This year, it's been me and Antwan. And it's a blessing, because that's what we wanted, and we're excited about it."
While Baylor head coach Art Briles is still expecting other guys like Clay Fuller, Levi Norwood, Corey Coleman, Jay Lee and Robbie Rhodes to step up in a big way, he said it "means the world to us" that Reese and Goodley have produced the way they have in the first five games.
"From a schematic standpoint, we can do a lot of different things with them," he said. "And the strange thing is we feel like we've got three or four other guys that are very capable. Just the way things have turned out, they haven't had their chances yet. But when they get them, it's going to happen."
That's all Goodley needed was a chance. Through his first three years at Baylor, including a redshirt season in 2010, the stocky receiver from Midland had totaled just 197 yards and two TDs on 19 catches. He had that beat by the first half of the second game.
"It was rough when I first got here," said Goodley, who has hauled in 25 passes for a mind-boggling 669 yards and six TDs, averaging 133.8 yards per game and 26.1 per catch, "because coming from high school, I had never sat on the bench. Coming in here, it was hard for a while, but I learned a lot from those guys. Of course, I wanted to be out there with them, but I had to wait my time, and now it's paying off."
With Williams and his national-best 1,832 yards gone, the Bears (5-0, 2-0) needed someone to step up at the outside receiver spot. And Goodley has answered the call. "That's what they talked about all the time. Losing (Williams), Baylor's not going to be any good," said the 5-foot-10, 225-pound junior. "He was such a huge impact for this team, so someone had to step up in his place. . . . I knew I had to do something to help my team."
Not exactly your classic-sized receiver, Goodley has surprising speed.
"He's like thunder," Reese said. "He's the big rumbler tumbler, but he's still a 4.3 guy."
"Antwan is one of the strongest skill kids that we have in the entire program," said receivers coach Kendal Briles. "And then you add the speed that people are now seeing that he has, and he's got very, very strong hands, it just makes for a good football player."
That's what makes them such a handful for defenses. They never know what to expect.
"Tevin is a smaller guy, but he's very physical. And that's something that people don't expect," said senior safety Ahmad Dixon. "And then Antwan's a bigger guy, he's expected to be physical. But he's not expected to be that fast. You just don't know what you're going to get on any given play. Antwan's running down the field blocking, Tevin's running down the field blocking. Next thing you know, they're running down the field catching the deep ball and getting in the end zone."
Here's the head-shaking stat for Reese, the 5-10, 170-pound speedster from Temple, Texas: Twenty of his 22 touchdowns have come from 40 yards or farther.
"Coach says I'm a big-play threat, so that's what I go out there and try to be," said Reese, who had TD receptions of 93 and 54 yards in last Saturday's 35-25 win at Kansas State. "They put me in the position to do that, so I just go out there and execute what they want me to do. And I'm not thinking too much about how I need to score from 41 yards or something. It's just playing the play at the time."
Adding nearly 30 pounds to his frame since he first came to Baylor, Reese is now able to get quicker releases off press-man coverage from the cornerbacks.
"Last year after practice, me and (Williams) stayed and worked on my press release," he said, "because I did play a little at outside receiver, too. Over the summer, I just did the same drills that we had worked on, and I've continued to get better."
That's what happened on the 54-yarder in the fourth quarter, when Reese got a quick release and simply ran by the corner and safety to get wide open.
"He's the most explosive guy in college football, in my opinion," Kendal Briles said.
"When he gets his speed going after the first two or three steps, he's really, really fast."
That unique combination of speed and strength is what's giving defenses fits . . . including Baylor's in practice.
"I have to be honest with you, sometimes they get us," Dixon said. "We just look at (defensive coordinator Phil Bennett), and we're like, `Sorry, Coach, there's nothing we can really do about that.'''
Since the opening week, when they both missed the 100-yard mark by 10 yards or less, Goodley and Reese have produced seven 100-yard games between them. And they've usually done it before intermission.
In a 73-42 blowout of West Virginia, Goodley had 170 yards on seven catches in the first half, while Reese came back to grab five catches for 184 yards and two TDs in the win over K-State.
"Some guys are a little more cautionary. Tevin's just a wide-out, full-tilt player," Art Briles said. "That's what we love about him, and that's what he brings to our offense. He's been very explosive for us, not just this year, but in years prior."
Goodley and Reese are just the two latest examples of an assembly line of receivers that has produced four NFL products since Briles' arrival six years ago - David Gettis, Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and Williams.
So, can we now call Baylor "Receiver U?"
"That's what we've been developing over the last couple years," Goodley said. "Coach Briles has done a great job recruiting. . . . Those guys left a mark here, and I don't want it to get any slimmer. I want to see it keep going."
Much like his dad, Kendal Briles is preaching to his other receivers that their day is coming. While Goodley and Reese have combined for right at half of the team's catches 100 catches of the season, no one else has even reached double-digits.
"Tevin's done a great job of leading by example, coming out and working and showing those guys that youv'e got to go out there and bust your butts working on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," Kendal said. "And then on Saturdays, if it happens, it happens. If not, you come back and go back to work the next day. Those guys are all hungry to play. So, if we get a chance to get them the ball, those guys are ready."
Coming off their first road win and first real test of the season, the 12th-ranked Bears host Iowa State (1-4, 0-2) for Homecoming at 6 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.