RENO - The logjam of candidates competing for playing time at wide receiver for Nevada's football team is worse than traffic around the Spaghetti Bowl during commute time.
The Pack return eight receivers who were in the program last year, including starters Nichiren Flowers (91 catches, 1,126 yards, 4 TDs) and Caleb Spencer (67-761-4) and Alex Rosenbloom (10-125-0), who played in all 12 games.
Flowers, who has been moved to an outside receiver, and Spencer are sure starters barring injury, and JC transfer Kyle Sammons would like nothing more than to join them in the starting lineup.
As camp starts, Sammons will be in a battle with two redshirt freshmen - Mike McCoy and ex-Douglas star Andy McIntosh - for the slot receiver spot. Sammons will have his hands full. McCoy probably has the best hands on the entire squad. McIntosh is stronger physically than he was last year, and has a better grasp of the offense this year.
Sammons brings in some impressive credentials. He caught 85 passes for 1,263 yards and 18 TDs in helping Santa Rosa JC to a berth in the Clo Bowl last season, and Nevada coach Chris Ault has been singing his praises ever since.
"He's a big, physical receiver," Ault said. "He runs well, too. He's got two years experience and played a slot receiver at his last school."
Despite the gaudy numbers, Sammons said he received only three firm offers. Those came from Northern Arizona, Tulsa and Nevada.
"I thought Nevada fit me the best," Sammons said. "It is close enough that my parents can come watch me play and I can drive home on weekends.
"I wanted to go to a school that threw the ball a lot. Northern Arizona threw the ball a lot. I played slot at Santa Rosa, so I'm used to it."
Sammons said Santa Rosa used four and five wide receivers, really spreading the field out. Nevada mainly uses three receivers, but sometimes will go without a tight end depending on down and distance.
"It (the offense) is kind of similar," Sammons said. "Nevada kind of runs the same stuff. Some of the route combinations are different."
Sammons doesn't think that McCoy and McIntosh have an advantage because they have been in the system a year longer.
"They know the system," Sammons said. "I've been playing college ball for two years, so I'm used to the speed. It's both an advantage and disadvantage. Playing JC ball was great for me. I got used to the size and speed of the players.
"If you ask my JC coach about me, he'd say 'speed, size and hands.' That's what I think I am."
Sammons is learning everyday, and he's working especially hard at catching the ball in heavy traffic. He also said there is less room to manuever on the field in a three receiver set compared to a four or five-receiver set.
"You are more spread out with five receivers out there," he said. "You have to run more precise routes."
If Sammons can do that, he'll create enough space to catch some balls and uphold Ault's confidence in him.
The Sammons File
Hometown: Novato, Calif.
Year in school: Junior, transferred from Santa Rosa JC
Position: Wide receiver