ESPN Insider KC Joyner, who we last heard suggesting Oklahoma State was headed for a dropoff, took an in-depth look at who is really best between the Big 12's top three receivers, who all might be in the top five nationally at the position.
Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon took home the Biletnikoff Award last season ahead of fellow finalist and in-state rival Ryan Broyles of Oklahoma, and Jeff Fuller became the first Texas A&M receiver to record a 1,000-yard season.
Fortunately for those of us who love the college game, all three came back and awarded us the privilege of seeing them take the field for another season.
Joyner takes a look at who's the best of the bunch and why, and you'll need ESPN Insider to read the full breakdown, but here's a slice of what he had to say.
First off, he reviewed game tape from each Big 12 game and games against BCS conference competition, eliminating all other statistics, and breaking down their remaining numbers into six categories.
Here are the categories:
Category No. 1: Short pass yards per attempt (YPA) (defined as passes thrown 1-10 yards downfield)
Category No. 2: Vertical YPA (defined as passes thrown 11 or more yards downfield)
Category No. 3: Stretch vertical YPA (defined as passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield -- aerials that are meant to truly stretch defensive coverage)
Category No. 4: Direct coverage YPA (How well a receiver performs when he is thrown a pass while being actively covered by a defender)
Category No. 5: Success rate (defined as the percentage of pass attempts where a receiver either posts a reception or draws a defensive pass penalty)
Category No. 6: Overall YPA
Who came out on top?
Here are a few of the surprising snippets:
Broyles has the reputation of being the most dominant short-pass receiver in college football but Blackmon tallied nearly as many short-pass yards (423) as Broyles (596) despite having roughly half as many short pass attempts (96 for Broyles, 51 for Blackmon).
However, on deep passes, Broyles' numbers were on par with Blackmon. Broyles even surpassed Blackmon's average on passes thrown longer than 20 yards downfield.
That Broyles did nearly as well as the more vertically heralded Blackmon provides evidence he isn't limited to just running dink-and-dunk routes.
It's a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it, but here's what Joyner concludes after plenty of analysis:
Blackmon and Broyles are both such superb wideouts that the contest could feasibly have gone either way depending on the structure of the point totals.
Having said that, Blackmon's strong showing in every category and his nearly three-yard lead over Broyles in the overall YPA category offers more than enough evidence to clearly state that heading into the 2011 season, he is the current heavyweight wide receiving champion of the Big 12 Conference.