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Baylor Football

WRU's life after Cannon & Zamora shows promise but questions remain

May 9, 2017

After KD Cannon signed a $45,000 bonus with the San Francisco 49ers as a priority undrafted free agent, Wide Receiver U looked like it had gained some traction again.

The 49ers have been a team in great need of a reliable receiving corps for years now and after leaving the draft with just one receiver, Cannon looked like destined for the 53-man roster.

He was cut from rookie minicamp on Sunday. Earning what’s the equivalent of a year of Baylor tuition in just a matter of days is great but by the standards of one-time Biletnikoff hopeful, that’s a crushing outcome.

His NFL dream is barely registering a pulse now. It’s a hard-learned lesson after the NFL Draft committee suggested Cannon stay in school for his senior year.

If he didn’t stay in Waco after the coaching staff he came for was gutted, at least move to another program (possibly reunite with Jarrett Stidham at Auburn) and build draft stock.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if he moves to Canada to build his résumé and route tree that scouts doubted throughout the draft process.

Who would have thought that Ish Zamora — whose name is more nationally synonymous for his animal abuse charges than his football prowess — would be Baylor’s lifeline to continue the WRU label?

At the moment, Zamora looks like a potential playmaker for the Oakland Raiders as another free agent signing. But as learned with Cannon, the release papers can arrive at any moment.

Like Cannon, it was suggested to Zamora to stick around the collegiate ranks- not for a year, but for his two years of remaining eligibility.

But what’s done is done. They can’t come back to McLane. However, what would the season look like if they were back and listened to the droves of voices to stay in Waco another year?

On the surface, it looks a lot better. You don’t just replace production like Cannon was capable. But with a new coaching staff and scheme in place, some more questions arise.

Throughout his time in Waco and in high school, Cannon was a perfect barn-burning threat. His elite track speed had him turning heads as a freshman when he led the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns for a few weeks thanks to streak routes flying past every secondary. That continued to be his role next couple of seasons, showing off his speed down a straight line.

Similar sentiments are shared with Zamora and just about every other receiving recruit from the Briles era. Though, Zamora also had the added bonus of being a big red zone target. Cannon and Zamora stood head and heals above the rest of the group, though, hauling in 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.

Each showed moments of irreplaceable talent, though. Can anyone forget the bobbled screen to Lynx Hawthorne that Zamora caught for a touchdown? It was one Zamora’s highlights of his career but was it a heads-up play or a fluke?

What about Cannon’s leaping touchdown over Boise State that also prevented an interception? That was Canon’s athleticism in a nutshell. Great for highlight reels.

It’s doubtful that Rhule and his new offensive staff headed by Jeff Nixon and Glenn Thomas would let that talent go unnoticed. Cannon and Zamora would be the top two receivers once again.

But what’s different from those two and whose in the arsenal now?

The biggest difference between this year and the system Briles put in place for Cannon and the like is using tight ends more readily. Quan Jones has already been moved from receiver to tight end, providing a receiving threat off the line. On top of Jones’ move, Rhule courted Ish Wainright to play tight end as well. Zamora’s red zone ability would just be a luxury should Jones and Wainright play as well as projected.

Denzel Mims has also shown to be a player of similar to Zamora throughout Spring practices, providing some extra height and athleticism outside the hash marks.

Maybe Zamora is replaced easier than expected. But what about Cannon, a former ESPN 300 prospect?

There’s little to distinguish him between other track stars with cleats like Chris Platt who came to Waco with Cannon in 2014 but redshirted. Cannon was the bigger threat coming out high school but the gap has closed over the past couple seasons as Platt emerged as a potential No. 1 threat last year.

Like Cannon, Platt’s tailor-made for highlights as evidenced by his 114-yard, two-touchdown performance against Oklahoma State last year with just three receptions.

That’s not to dismiss Cannon’s ability, only to affirm Platt’s potential to fill his shoes. Give him more chances downfield, he’s bound to put up number similar to Cannon.

But Platt hasn’t been the standout receiver for Baylor throughout Spring ball. Pooh Stricklin made his name heard hauling in some of the most impressive catches while also a having clean route tree.

It remains to be seen if R.J. Sneed will redshirt this year, but Rhule has said if a player is ready to play, they’ll play. Sneed constantly impressed coaches throughout his first months on campus, looking like a potential playmaker right out of the gate.

If there’s one big standout among the entire receiving corps, though, it’s the size advantage. Of the 11 listed receivers, only five are shorter than 6-foot-2. Over half of the group stand at least 6-foot-2 or higher, with players like Lynch also holding top tier speed as well.

So yes, having Cannon and Zamora around again would be good but the talent that’s here now shouldn’t have much of an issue making noise, either.
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Life after KD Cannon and Ish Zamora looks brighter than expected

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