"We talked about it in one of our first meetings," Demetrius Fields said. "Our goal isn't only to be the best receiving corps in the Big Ten; it's to be the best in the country."
Analyst Phil Steele might laugh at that concept. He ranked NU's receivers in a tie for eighth in the Big Ten, ahead of only Minnesota and Illinois. And if you glance at the stats, you can see why.
The Wildcats did lead the conference last season with 289 completions, but Jeremy Ebert (75 catches) and Drake Dunsmore (45) are vying for NFL jobs, Kain Colter (43) is NU's quarterback and Jacob Schmidt (24) got hired as NU's director of player development. That's 187 catches out the door.
But returnees such as Fields are solid, and the replacements have shown promise in practice and spring ball.
"They are talented from top to bottom," Colter said. "If I get them the ball, they will make me look good."
Coach Pat Fitzgerald often will play four at a time and have a rotation that goes eight deep.
Fields is the wise old man among the receivers, a starter in 27 games whom offensive coordinator Mick McCall calls the "leader in that group."
So who better — with an assist from Colter — to break down the top purple pass-catchers?
Kyle Prater, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, redshirt sophomore
Fields: "He's great technically; you can tell he got some really good coaching (at USC). He has a big body and is fast whenever he wants to be. He still has to adjust to our practice pace."
Colter: "It's tough going from a pro-style to a spread offense. He has to get his conditioning up a little for an up-tempo offense. We'll see. He's not going to be given anything. We have receivers all over the board who won't just be giving up their spot."
Rashad Lawrence, 6-2, 185, junior
Fields: "Charisma. He has joy for the game, and it shows in the way he plays — real loose. He's serious but has fun at the same time."
Colter: "Runs great routes and has great hands."
Mike Jensen, 6-0, 180, redshirt junior
Fields: "Tough as nails. He's real savvy, real crafty, technically sound and knows how to use what he has. An awesome blocker."
Colter: "He reminds me of Zeke Markshausen. He's really smart and runs great routes. You know where he will be on every play. He's probably the guy I trust the most out of that receiver group."
Christian Jones, 6-3, 225, sophomore