KJ Maye blossomed last season into the Gophers' most productive receiver since Eric Decker. Now, Maye's former teammates refer to him as "Coach KJ."

Maye is out of eligibility but has remained a constant presence around the Gophers' football facility, while gearing up for an NFL tryout. Meanwhile, the team still is trying to figure out how to replace him, as it gears up for Saturday's spring game.

"The biggest thing was, he worked so hard and made big plays," said Drew Wolitarsky, who will be the team's lone senior wide receiver this fall.

Maye caught 73 passes last year, the second most in Gophers history behind Decker's 84 in 2008. At 5-10, Maye was the quintessential possession receiver, with 45 of his catches resulting in a first down or a touchdown.

This spring, the Gophers typically have used have Wolitarsky, Rashad Still and Eric Carter as their first-team receivers.

Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Gentry remains one of their most talented receivers, but he continues to fight injuries. Two other receivers who have stood out are redshirt freshman Hunter Register and junior Brian Smith.

"We don't have a talent problem at wide receiver right now," coach Tracy Claeys said. "It's all about consistency and catching the balls that move the chains."

Wolitarsky set California high school records with 281 receptions and 5,148 yards at Canyon County High School. After catching 25 passes combined his first two years at Minnesota, he had 39 receptions last year, the most for a Gophers junior since Da'Jon McKnight had 48 in 2010.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on being a leader in the [receiver] group," Wolitarsky said. "I wouldn't say I really have a specific goal set for yardage, touchdowns and whatnot. That's not really my concern right now."

With the Gophers passing more frequently last season, Carter also saw his production spike, notching 23 receptions as a sophomore. At 5-11, he is similar in stature to Maye and has been featured on the jet sweep this spring, the way Maye was at times during his career.

"Me and KJ come from similar backgrounds — down South kids who came up here to play for this coaching staff," said Carter, a native of Lakeland, Fla. "I feel like we related very well, so he taught me a lot. Even now that he's gone, we still talk all the time."

Still stayed on campus and worked out with Maye during spring break, while many teammates headed home or on vacation. The 6-6 Still had 18 receptions last year as a true freshman, including touchdowns against Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois. Not bad, considering he didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school in El Paso, Texas.

"You can walk into the complex any time of the day and [Still's] up in the players' lounge, goofing around, having fun," quarterback Mitch Leidner said. "Everyone on the team loves the guy. He's just a fun person to be around and he loves football.

"At times you definitely have to get on him, tell him to focus up or whatever, but I think he definitely has handled his success well."

Maye will be heading to an NFL camp soon, but Still's mentorship won't end.

"Eric [Carter's] like my big brother now," Still said. "He keeps me in line. Whenever I need something, I can call him, and he'll come pick me up or drop me off. I look up to him."