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Trio of UTSA WRs Has Captured Nation’s Attention

  • Ryan Fowler
  • December 6, 2022
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With two players that heard their names called on draft weekend and another whose opportunity came post-draft, the UTSA Roadrunners have become one of the most fruitful mid-major-to-NFL pipelines in the country. The program produced potential 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year in CB Tariq Woolen (Seahawks), an 11-game starter along the front five in Spencer Burford (49ers), and a potential 2023 contributor in RB Sincere McCormick, who suffered an injury last spring (Raiders). This year, a trio of wideouts has become a common topic point for NFL teams in need of athletes on the perimeter both in 2023 and in the years to come.

Zakhari Franklin

A fourth-year member of the UTSA program, Franklin is one of the most ball-dominant pass-catchers in the class. While he’s the shortest talent among the names to follow at 6-foot-1, he’s the most impressive at all three levels of the field.

An uncoverable weapon at times, wrapping up his 2022 campaign with 10 catches (12 targets) for 144 yards and three trips to paydirt in the C-USA title game placed a firm cap on an athlete NFL scouts have become awfully familiar with over the last few seasons. For the second consecutive season, he’s eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark through the air—it’s been too easy for him at times. 

Expected to run in the mid-4.4s when he lines up for his 40-yard dash, while his speed is enough to press vertically at the next level, his alpha mentality in the air allows him to consistently place his body in position to snatch passes away from less aggressive corners. It’s a brand of football that translates, and while drops have been a knock on him this year with seven on 119 targets, it won’t be a concern for teams who are in need of an immediate impact outside.

For a UTSA offense led by quarterback Frank Harris, and one as high-powered as you’ll find in the college game, Franklin was the top dog and someone that should quickly open eyes when granted an opportunity should he declare before the deadline on Jan. 16. 

De’Corian Clark

An elite track athlete in high school, Clark is one of the more electric athletes in the country. A long jumper at the prep level, his 6-foot-3 frame pops off the screen when you turn on his tape. 

While his last two seasons were almost identical as far as production (759 yards in ‘21, 755 in ‘22), he’s still coming into his own as an elite threat through the air. His upside is tied to the finer details of his game: route-running, separation both off the LOS and at the top of routes, blocking, and more so, getting healthy. After a season that was cut short due to a gruesome torn ACL, Clark is now expected to return to UTSA for a fifth year and progress into one of the conference’s top options.

Joshua Cephus

Like Clark, Cephus will return to UTSA in 2023. The Robin to Franklin’s Batman this year, the 6-foot-3 talent is a massive name to follow next fall.

A glider in space whose production has consistently increased since his first year in 2019, another year in the weight room and another season of 85+ targets will allow him to fine-tune his game. A primary slot wideout who has been granted free releases so far in his career, moving to the outside next year in spurts should provide a clean look into just how well his game could translate to Sundays with corners in his face.

Cephus is also physical—despite being 185 pounds—and a YAC monster with 506 of his 973 yards coming after the ball arrives in his hands. Again, it comes down to traits that translate, and for Cephus, who may very well align as WR1 come next August, his draft stock could enter warp speed with another uber-productive campaign.

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Ryan Fowler