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Could Dan Villari Really Switch Positions?

Believe it or not, the final week of training camp is underway. A key question throughout has been the wide receiver room. No one on last year’s roster topped 400 receiving yards, so it goes without saying that Dino Babers and company need someone to break out this year. A new candidate broke out in training camp Monday, and it’s a familiar name, but one you probably didn’t expect to see being referred to as a wideout.

Even though this is quite jarring at first, you shouldn’t be too surprised.

First of all, reports out of camp indicate Carlos Del Rio-Wilson will be the primary backup behind Garrett Shrader, especially after Justin Lamson’s injury. Playing time at quarterback wasn’t exactly going to come easy for Villari. But a transition to wide receiver opens up not only the ability for him to play, but it changes the look of Robert Anae’s offense. It adds another weapon for Shrader and because Villari is so versatile, why not throw some jet sweeps and end-arounds into the playbook? It’s a path to playing time and it adds another dimension to the offense. What’s not to like if you’re Villari?

Secondly, there is a proven track record of success with a player switching from quarterback to wide receiver. For this, we look to the pros. Hines Ward was a quarterback when he played at Georgia and even topped 400 passing yards in the Peach Bowl. Nonetheless, he converted to wideout when the Steelers drafted him, and he only had a career that may get him inducted into the Hall of Fame, no big deal. More recently, once Julian Edelman finished quarterbacking for Kent State, he became one of Tom Brady’s most reliable weapons on three different Super Bowl teams. Now, both Ward and Edelman made the conversion after their college days ended, but it still shows that it can and has worked. Why can’t Villari be next? It isn’t reasonable to expect him to succeed at the levels Ward and Edelman did, but their success should give both Villari and the coaching staff confidence that a transition could work.

Finally, what if none of Damien Alford, Courtney Jackson, Anthony Queeley, or another receiver doesn’t break out? That’s not to say none of them will, but if things go south in that regard, Villari is right there waiting. Villari taking practice reps at wide receiver puts pressure on every single one of the listed receivers to step up, or else that receiver(s) will have a front-row seat on the bench.

The possibility of Villari taking snaps at wide receiver is a fascinating one. Moves like this could very well be the move that gets Babers’ squad back to a bowl game.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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