Lehigh wide receivers from left: junior Troy Pelletier, senior Trevor Socarras, senior Derek Knott, and junior Gatlin Casey stand at Goodman Stadium after practice Thursday Oct. 13, 2016. The team will face Holy Cross on Saturday Oct. 22, in Worcester, Massachusetts. (Alexis McGowan/B&W Staff)

Golden receivers: Lehigh football boasts top wideouts in FCS


Sitting atop the FCS in receiving yards, junior receivers Troy Pelletier and Gatlin Casey represent a unit receiving coach Scott Brisson describes with one word: competitive.

Brisson says the word competitive is thrown around a lot in sports, especially football, but these two receivers are so competitive they are among Lehigh’s top five practice players on a consistent basis.

Pelletier leads the country in receiving yards, tallying 838 yards with seven touchdowns while averaging 13.97 yards per reception.

“This ranking is a compliment to our whole offense because we have a very good offensive line with weapons all over,” Pelletier said. “It’s even cooler that we have (Casey) at No. 2 and both us and (Nick Shafnisky) top five in many other categories.”

Casey is not far behind with 799 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also received Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week after a victory over defending Patriot League champions Colgate University. Brisson attributes both Pelletier’s and Casey’s numbers to the innate competitiveness they possess.

“(Pelletier) and (Casey) are as competitive as I’ve been around,” Brisson said. “You have a shot to be really good if this is the case, and they really enjoy being out there each day and truly compete every practice.”

In addition to Pelletier and Casey, seniors Derek Knott and Trevor Socarras have also made a big impact on the receiving effort, contributing 338 and 191 yards, respectively. Knott and Socarras have also added a combined three touchdowns.

Casey stressed that the offense has been so successful because of all the weapons the team has, so the defense can’t just focus on one person.

Competitiveness has gotten the receivers far — 2,452 yards as a team to be exact. Brisson thinks highly of the unit, calling it an unselfish group who is willing to do whatever it takes. Playing receiver himself in college and coaching at two other schools, Brisson said there is a lot of selfishness in receiving but is proud his guys act as team players on the field.

“They are not driven by statistics,” Brisson said. “Any of them are happy to move out of position and block to get someone else the ball, so it gives us a chance to have even more team success.”

Socarras echoed his position coach’s statement, attributing a lot of the group’s success to the fact that they are a close group and truly enjoy playing side by side. As a squad of mostly juniors and seniors, familiarity with one another has allowed the group many years of practice together, which helps them execute their jobs even better on game day, whether it be receiving or blocking so another player can receive.

Another factor Brisson believes has played into the receiver’s success has been the efforts of other parts of the offense, such as the quarterbacks and the offensive line. He believes the success of all three units together is what is driving Lehigh’s explosive offense so far this season.

“We have two solid quarterbacks that we can trust in any situation to get the job done and put us in the position to make plays,” Casey said, echoing his position coach.

Pelletier and Casey, along with the rest of the offense, have led the team to a 5-2 overall record and a 2-0 start in Patriot League play. Despite an undefeated league record so far, Socarras said it is most important to think in the short term and focus on the process.

“The key is to not look at the end result but focus on the present and each day from the start of the week to when the clock runs out on Saturday afternoon,” Socarras said.

The Mountain Hawks and their star receivers will take on Holy Cross (3-4, 1-1 PL) as they travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, on Oct. 22. The game will be nationally televised on the American Sports Network.

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