WSU slot receivers set for a significant role in 2023 football season

WSU has found a versatile group of receivers inside



WSU wide receiver Lincoln Victor hypes up the crowd after a kickoff during an NCAA football match against California, Oct. 1.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor

There is a lot of turnover on both the staff and the roster for WSU football following last season. None more so than in the receiver room, where often most overlooked position on the offense is trying to create a new identity.

The slot, or Y receivers, are critical to WSU’s offense due to the heavy usage of the short passing game and the versatility of the athletes on the roster. The group is losing impact vets like Robert Ferrel and Renard Bell, who played inside and out. 

However, they are still in good hands being led by senior captain Lincoln Victor. Victor going into his final season at WSU is playing the best he has since coming to WSU, said head coach Jake Dickert.

“I think it’s great to say about a guy that’s got a chip on his shoulder and wanting to show what he can do having maybe not accomplished exactly what he wanted to last year. And there was some adversity, he played inside and outside so now he can go back inside where it’s his home and where he’s really comfortable,” Dickert said. “I think he’s been probably our most consistent offensive player through the first 12 practices.”

In the team’s scrimmage Saturday, Victor took a short pass 69 yards untouched for a touchdown. He also showed his ability last year in the return game, splitting reps with fellow slot man Ferrel.

Victor is the rock in the rotation but WSU has brought in supplemental talent looking to make an immediate impact. One standout is DT Sheffield, a three-star rated transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College (NWCC). 

Sheffield comes in as a junior after recording 776 yards and 11 touchdowns on 58 catches his sophomore year at NWCC. Also serving as one of the team’s punt returners. Sheffield got the majority of the team’s reps returning punts in the scrimmage on Saturday.

While it was not an overly flashy day, Sheffield got multiple targets with WSU’s No. 1 offense and also ran a jet sweep in which he was the recipient of a Cam Ward handoff. He’s explosive, and the goal is to get the ball in his hands in a lot of different ways, Dickert said.

He has also left an impression on his teammates. It took him a while to open up, but he’s started to gel with the rest of the team, Victor said.

“DT’s the man, his playmaking ability is off the charts, the sky’s the limit for that dude,” Victor said. “What I’ve seen from him is the growth mindset, him wanting to learn, him craving criticism, but also him being able to transition, it’s tough coming from a community college to a power five school, and also he’s grown in maturity level playing receiver.”

Victor has rightfully taken on a huge leadership role, and he expects a lot from the slot group going into next season.

“I hold them to a high standard because in the slot, you’re guarded by three guys all the time, you got to be able to play in space, you got to be a football player. So whenever I can help those guys with the experience I have, I know when I’m talking, they’re listening, they’ll add value to their game,” Victor said. “But what I love about the slot group is we’re all learning from each other, and I think that’s the difference between great receiver rooms and just average receiver rooms.”

Victor and Sheffield were the slot standouts from this weekend’s scrimmage, but redshirt sophomore Orion Peters and redshirt senior transfer from San Jose State Isaiah Hamilton are sure to make an impact as well, Dickert said. The slot group is deep and primed to play a big role in multiple facets of the game for the WSU offense next season.

“Excited about that group of slot receivers and the fact they’re all different and can do a bunch of different things,” Dickert said.