CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Two days before Virginia hosted North Carolina last Saturday, the Cavaliers found out their top three receivers would be missing leading to a chance for freshman JR Wilson.

"What I think what you saw was him having an opportunity," head coach Tony Elliott said, "Being excited by his opportunity and then going out and performing and knowing that the team was counting on him and really, really proud of him."

Wilson turned in a six catch, 61 yard performance against the Tar Heels, making his first career catch on the game's opening drive.

"Going in I was kind of scared, first start jitters, but I feel like as I got my first catch it's just regular football and as the day went on I just kind of showed I'm supposed to be here," Wilson said, "Just I'm going to make plays in the future."

Entering this week as Virginia prepares for Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers receiver trio of Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Lavel Davis Jr. remain day-to-day with injuries. Elliott said on Tuesday Thompson was the closest to returning to action, with Wicks the furthest away still dealing with a bone bruise and Davis in concussion protocols.

One receiver set to return from injury is Monticello alum Malachi Fields, who Elliott says has been "turned loose" and is cleared to play against Pitt. Fields missed fall camp and the first nine games of the season with a lower body injury, but warmed up for the first time last week against UNC as Fields gears up for a return.

"I anticipate, load-management wise, he'll be a 15- to 20-play guy," Elliott said on Fields.

"You still worry about, just me being a former skill guy, dealing with a lot of skill guys, the game. You can't replicate the intensity of the game. You can't replicate the physicality of the game. It's going to be a game where there's going to be a lot of press coverage, a lot of bump and run. You don't want to overwork him. We're excited to have him back. I think he brings another element to the group that we've been missing."

In addition to Fields, the Cavaliers are seeing depth at the receiver position build with young players like Wilson stepping up. Wilson arrived at UVA after undergoing surgery on his right knee, so his expectations for year one were minimal. But over time the coaching staff has continued to push the 6'4" receiver to not hold back.

"No, if anything we tried to push him, say 'hey buddy you can step to the forefront, don't be in the back shadows," offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said, "And hopefully that gets him some confidence after Saturday to do that."

The early returns from Wilson show another promising receiver in the ranks for UVA. Wilson admits he walked into a dream scenario for a young receiver getting to learn under wide receivers coach Marques Hagans and a veteran group, while pushing himself to see the field early.

"We'll just say getting comfortable transitioning from high school to college is a big step, so I'm still learning and just taking tips from older receivers like Dontayvion Wicks and Lavel Davis Jr," Wilson said, "You kind of see how they move in practice and how they move in gamedays."