Friday, May 11, 2012
Grading my 1,000-yard receiver projections
By ESPN.com staff
This time last year, we broke down which Big 12 players would most likely reach the benchmarks for their positions in 2011.
The benchmark for receivers is clearly 1,000 yards. Here's what I wrote about the Big 12's 1,000-yard receivers.
It's time to revisit those projections.
College football had 40 players top 1,000 yards receiving. The Big 12 had four. Here's who I picked to do it:
1. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: Don't read much into Broyles being over Blackmon. They'll both clear the 1,000-yard mark easily, barring injury. Broyles, though, has done it twice already and has more guaranteed touches in Oklahoma's short passing game.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 1,157 yards
Thoughts: Ugh, it's hard to read that "barring injury" part from last April, but Broyles cleared the 1,000-yard mark and set the FBS career record for receptions before tearing his ACL against Texas A&M. Broyles probably had the inside track at the Biletnikoff Award over Blackmon, but settled for finalist status after the injury.
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon won't come from nowhere this year, but teams were well aware of him after a few games last year. Look for Blackmon and Broyles to clear the 1,500-yard mark like they did last year, when they ranked second and third nationally in receiving yards. Both were finalists for the Biletnikoff Award won by Blackmon, and both have a decent chance to be Heisman finalists next year.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 1,522 yards
Thoughts: Called that 1,500-yard mark on the button, no? Only three receivers in the country topped that mark, and Blackmon was one of them. He also repeated as the nation's top receiver, becoming the second Big 12 player to take home the Biletnikoff Award in consecutive seasons. Heck of a career for Blackmon.
3. T.J. Moe, Missouri: Missouri could help out Moe quite a bit by finding a deep threat to soften up defenses for his underneath routes, but he should be a nice safety blanket for the Tigers' new quarterback. Like we wrote earlier this week, Missouri is the only team in the Big 12 without a quarterback on the roster who has started a game.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 649 yards
Thoughts: Much of the step back was anything but Moe's fault. For one, Mizzou never really found a deep threat to help stretch the field and open things up for Moe, and though quarterback James Franklin played well, he carried the ball almost 200 times. Moe doesn't have eye-popping straight-line speed, and his ability to get open was marginalized by defenses that could afford to show a lack of respect for the long ball.
4. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller became the first Texas A&M receiver to ever reach the 1,000-yard mark last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't do it again. He's experienced, a good route-runner and near impossible to cover on the fade route.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 828 yards
Thoughts: Who knows what went wrong with Fuller last season? He struggled early on with a hamstring injury, but coach Mike Sherman said Fuller was healthy late in the season, and just never turned it on. Fuller is physically gifted, but to me, looked like he was lazy in his route-running, and struggled with drops, too. As a result, he went undrafted.
6. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres was slowed last year by a back injury, but Texas Tech loses its top two receivers from last year's team, and Torres is likely the beneficiary.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 639 yards
Thoughts: Nope. Injuries got Torres again, capped by a torn ACL late in the season. He was banged up for much of the season, and had just two games with at least 100 yards receiving.
I almost picked Kendall Wright to have more than 1,000 yards, but narrowly decided not to. He'd never had 1,000 yards in a season before exploding for 1,663 yards in 2011, but I thought the depth of Baylor's offense would prevent him from hitting quadruple digits. Nope.
The other player I missed? Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, who emerged as a the top receiver in College Station while Fuller struggled. Never, ever saw that one coming.
How would you grade my projections?