1. JuJu Smith-Schuster – USC: The 6-2, 215 Smith-Schuster is as talented as any receiver in the country. He is good sized, strong and extremely fast. Plus, he possesses great hands. He’s a play maker. The former 5 star recruit has more than panned out. He started as a true freshman and then he became the number one target for Trojan Quarterback Cody Kessler this past season. Smith-Schuster caught 89 passes last season for 1,454 yards and 10 Touchdowns. As a true freshman, Smith-Schuster was something of a second Wide Receiver with Nelson Agholer being the go to guy for Kessler.
Agholer had 104 catches with Smith-Schuster catching 54. Even then, his explosiveness was blatantly obvious.
2. Cam Ridley – Alabama: Ridley was a star as a true freshman instantly becoming the most productive Wide Receiver for the national championship Crimson Tide. In his first season, the 6-1, 190 receiver from Coconut Creek, Florida caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Alabama lost Amari Cooper from 2014 to the NFL, but Cam Ridley stepped right up as a true freshman. Ridley is a super explosive and exciting receiver and clearly one of the best in the country.
3. Christian Kirk – Texas A%M: Kirk was the top rated Wide Receiver in his class out of the Phoenix area and he really lived up to the hype. As a true freshman, he caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Kirk really excelled in punt returns taking 2 back for Touchdowns. Kirk is 5-11, 200 and a speedster with great hands. The Aggies have had Quarterbacking problems but they are loaded at Wide Receiver and Kirk is definitely the best that they have and one of the top players in the country.
4. Artavis Scott – Clemson: Coming out of Florida, Scott was an immediate impact player in 2014 an he led the team in receptions with 76. His sophomore year of 2015, Scott again led the team in receptions with an impressive 93. Scott is 5-11, 190 with good speed and great hands. He is really
tough and fights for every yard.
In 2016, Scott will again be Deshaun Watson’s go to guy and he will again put up huge numbers. He’s just a very talented and reliable receiver.
5. Malachi Dupre – LSU: Dupre is one of the most gifted Wide Receivers in the nation, if not the very most. He plays in an offense that throws the ball maybe less than any other big time program, but Dupre can make the athletic circus catches look easy time after time. He was rated as the nation’s best Wide Receiver coming out of high school and he has done nothing to disappoint. He won’t put up the eye popping numbers that some of these other guys will because of the LSU grind them out style of offense, but Dupre is a talent. LSU just comes up with so many talented Wide Receivers year after year. Last season, as a sophomore, Dupre only caught 43 passes. But, he averaged over 16 yards per reception and scored 6 Touchdowns. He is big, at 6-3, 190, with great hands and speed. He’s a perfect fit for the NFL.
6. Mike Williams – Clemson: Losing Mike Williams in the opening game to a broken neck could have been costly for the Tigers. But, they have so much talent across the board that they kept on and almost won the national championship. Williams is much like Dupre, only bigger. He is 6-4, 220 and super athletic. Scott catches more passes than Williams, but all of Williams receptions seemed to be huge plays. In 2014, Williams caught 57 passes, but they went for 1,030 yards and 6 Touchdowns. He averaged over 18 yards per reception and he made the difficult catches look easy.
Having Williams back for 2016 will be a great situation for Clemson and Deshaun Watson even
though the Tigers have many great receivers.
7. Fred Ross – Mississippi State: If the SEC is the best conference in football, then something must be said for the Bulldog’s Fred Ross. The senior from Tyler, Texas did nothing but catch 88 passes a year ago and then decided to stay in school. I applaud his decision.
He is 6-2, 210 and he took those 88 receptions last season and turned them into 1,007 yards and 5 Touchdowns against the best competition in the nation. He much improved in 2015 after catching 30 passes in 2014.
Losing long time Mississippi State Quarterback Dak Prescott could hurt Ross in 2016, but there are several guys fighting for the Quarterback job. I wrote about the QB situation here: Dak
8. Jordan Villamin – Oregon State: This is a big receiver that will surprise a defense with his speed. At 6-5, 235, Villamin is definitely big. He is also almost unstoppable as a Wide Receiver. Even when he is double teamed, Villamin is just too big and too talented to be stopped. Oregon State had Quarterback problems much of the 2015 season and Villamin didn’t see the ball as often as he should have. But, he still led the team in receptions with 43 which totaled 660 yards and 5 Touchdowns. His best game came against the best team he faced, Stanford. In that game, he had 7 receptions for 138 yards and a score.
Before you say he played in a chump league without defense, consider that he had a big Touchdown catch in double coverage against a good Stanford defense. Maybe a solid run game with converted Tight End Ryan Nall leading the way will open up the passing a little bit more and give Villamin Nall
9. Travis Rudolph – Florida State: Rudolph is another super talented guy out of the sunshine state of Florida. He is a big play waiting to happen. A solid deep threat, he can also make the big catch and the underneath stuff. He lead the Seminoles in receiving last season, but just by one reception over Kermit Whitfield and Bobo Wilson. I really believe that big receivers Auden Tate and George Campbell will be more involved in the Seminole passing game this season, and maybe Ermon Lane. But, Rudolph is a true talent and so far the best of the talented bunch.
Whoever wins the Florida State Quarterbacking battle will have a ton of talented receivers to throw the ball to including the great Tight Ends that they have on campus. Expect the game between Clemson and Florida State in 2016 to be an instant classic.
10. Mack Hollins – North Carolina: Talk about big play guys, Hollins is a master of coming up with the monster receptions. He only caught 30 passes in 2015, but they went for an amazing 745 yards which is over 24 yards per catch. He had 8 Touchdown receptions a year ago in leading an outstanding group of North Carolina receivers. Hollins is 6-4, 210, with hands and good speed, enough to be a solid deep threat.
North Carolina did lose it’s outstanding Quarterback of the last few years, Marquise Williams. But, Mitch Trubisky has already been named the starter for next season and he was incredibly accurate last season as a back up to Williams. Trubisky hit 40 out of 47 passes for 555 yards and 6 Touchdowns. He also had no interceptions. With a solid Offensive Line returning and Running Back Elijah Hood coming off of a 1,463 yard rushing season, look for the Tar Heels to compete for the ACC title yet again.
11. Drew Morgan – Arkansas: Morgan seemingly came out of nowhere to have a huge year in 2015. The one time lightly recruited Morgan caught 63 passes to lead the Razorbacks in receptions. Morgan is only about 6-0, 195 but he is tough, tough, tough and catches everything that comes in his Morgan
direction. He also showed surprising speed on many plays, I blogged about Morgan earlier here:
Morgan is the kind of guy that grew up in the state that he plays football for currently and he always wanted to play at Arkansas. He is all heart.
12. Isaiah Ford – Virginia Tech: Yet another good Wide Receiver out of Florida. Even though the Hokies didn’t have the best Quarterbacking situation in 2014, he caught 56 passes as a freshman. Last season, the 6-2, 190 Ford hauled in 75 receptions for 1,164 yards and 11 Touchdowns. He averaged over 15 yards per catch and showed the ability to come up with the big play. He caught 4 passes for 3 Touchdowns against North Carolina to score the majority of his team’s points in a 28-13 Hokie victory.
Long time Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer retired after the season was over and he was replaced by Justin Fuente of Memphis. It will be interesting to see how Ford reacts to the coaching changes.
13. Darren Carrington – Oregon: The Ducks always have an outstanding receiving crew and Carrington is probably the best they have this season. A big play guy, Carrington averaged over 19 yards per reception on 32 receptions and 6 Touchdowns. The Ducks lost leading receiver Bralon Addison and Carrington should step up this next season and become the go to guy.
14. Antonio Callaway – Florida: What can be said about the amount of top notch talent coming out
of the state of Florida? Callaway was a true freshman last season and proved he was a big play guy. The Gators had serious Quarterbacking problems left over from the previous coaching staff, but Callaway still came up with 35 receptions for over 19 yards per catch.
The situation should be improved in 2016 with more options available at Quarterback. Callaway is a game changer with excellent speed.
15. KD Cannon – Baylor: Cannon is a good player, but the Baylor Bears have issues right now with Art Briles being fired for numerous sexual assaults committed by his players.
Cannon is 6-0, 180 with good hands and speed. He was pretty skinny when he was a freshman, but he has filled out. He may drop off the list as this next season comes around, but he has some talent.
16. Simmie Cobbs Jr – Indiana: A sleeper pick, Cobbs was impressive last season in Kevin Wilson’s offense. The Hoosiers secretly have one of the better offenses in the country and Cobbs was a standout for them in 2015. He caught 60 passes for 1,035 yards and 4 Touchdowns. Like so many others, Cobbs will have to depend on a new Quarterback being brought along. But, the 6-4. 215 Cobbs is a talent.
17. Chris Godwin – Penn State: The Nittany Lions return pretty much every body from last year
other than Christian Hackenberg. Both Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton return and they are pretty much twins in size and talent. Hamilton led the team in receiving in 2014 and Godwin led the team last season. The 6-1, 210 Godwin hauled in 69 passes last season for 1,101 yards and 4 Touchdowns.
If Trace McSorley steps up at Quarterback, look for Godwin and Hamilton to have big seasons.
18. Gabe Marks – Washington State: Marks could be rated higher. Marks is Washington State’s top receiver and the top target of Quarterback Luke Falk. Last year, Marks caught 104 passes for 1,192 and 15 Touchdowns. He does get a lot more passes thrown his way than most receivers, but he is a pretty tough guy that can make the difficult catches. Marks is 6-0, 190 and from Venice, California. He did not play last season, but caught 74 passes in 2013 after catching 49 passes as a freshman in 2012.
19. Stacy Coley – Miami: Surprisingly, Coley decided to return for his senior season. The Pompano Beach, Florida native caught 49 passes a year ago for 689 yards and 4 Touchdowns. With new head coach Mark Richt arriving and the return of Brad Kaaya, the entire Offensive Line and some talented Running Backs and Tight Ends, the Hurricanes may again be a force to be dealt with. Coley kind of reminds of the Miami receivers of old.
20. Allen Lazard – Iowa State: Maybe I will catch flack for placing Lazard here, but he is a big receiver at 6-5, 225 with good hands. He plays on a bad team, but that doesn’t take anything away from his talent. Lazard had 56 receptions a year ago for 807 yards and 6 Touchdowns. As a freshman in 2014, Lazard caught 45 passes for 593 yards and 3 scores. Lazard was a 4 star recruit and is a local product and decided to stay home even though he received offers from schools like Notre Dame and many others.
Some other very good ones:
Gehrig Dieter – Alabama: Transfer from Bowling Green, he’s a talented receiver and could earn playing time.
Jordan Westerkamp – Nebraska: The Huskers best receiver the past few years.
Jamari Staples – Louisville: Tall and talented receiver.
Kermit Whitfield – Florida State: Speedy receiver and one of the Seminoles best.
Isaiah Jones – East Carolina: Son of former NFL Linebacker Robert Jones and brother of Arizona receiver Cayleb Jones.
Steven Dunbar – Houston: Big receiver.
Ventell Bryant – Temple: Tall promising youngster from Florida.
Deon Cain – Clemson: Super star if he can stay out of trouble.
Hunter Renfrow – Clemson: Walk-on that is a dependable receiver.
Ray-Ray McCloud – Clemson: Another potentially super Clemson receiver.
Trevion Thompson – Clemson: Big, young Tiger talent.
Jesus Wilson – Florida State: Bobo is one of the Seminoles best receivers again this season.
George Campbell – Florida State: Former 5 star recruit is a promising young star.
Auden Tate – Florida State: The big receiver they have been lacking since Kelvin Benjamin left.
Lawrence Cager – Miami: Big receiver that redshirted last year and could be impact player in 2016.
Ryan Switzer – North Carolina: Small, speedy receiver that’s also a great punt returner.
Bug Howard – North Carolina: Super tall receiver and another member of Tar Heel receiving corps that should scare defenses.
Austin Proehl – North Carolina: Son of long time NFL Wide Receiver Ricky Proehl.
Quincy Adeboyo – Ole Miss: Very speedy receiver.
Michael Rector – Stanford: The Cardinal depth threat, it seems he has been around forever.
Trent Irvin – Stanford: This guy will catch a ball if he is near it. He’s got outstanding hands and he should be Stanford’s go to receiver this next season.