Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Big 12 preseason position rankings: WR
By David Ubben
Time to move on with our rankings of the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12. Today, we're covering receivers. This is a pretty good class, but it's pretty clustered to only a few teams. Look for Oklahoma State to have one or two guys on this list by season's end, but right now, I couldn't reason putting any of them on the list over the guys who made it. There's a bit of a drop-off after the league's top five receivers, too.
Remember: This isn't a prediction or projection. This is where it stands to start the season.
My only rule for this list: No freshmen or newcomers. You don't know until you know.
1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Austin's speedy and shifty, and will give Big 12 defenses headaches every week this season. The Mountaineers' offense is predicated upon getting him the ball, and when he gets it, he does some special, special things with it.
Tavon Austin caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and eight scores last season.
2. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Bailey, though? He's the only guy in the Big 12 who had more receiving yards than Austin last season. Coincidentally, they're on the same team. Bailey's a more traditional receiver to Austin's hybrid receiver/running back type of role, and he loves to stretch the field. Fortunately for him, he's got a QB in Geno Smith who loves to get him the ball. He caught 72 balls for 1,279 yards and 12 scores last year.
3. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Stills may make a run at the No. 1 spot on this list in the postseason, but he's got to prove it without Ryan Broyles. He's still searching for his first 1,000-yard receiving season, but he's going to be the only player with legitimate Big 12 experience on this team to start the season. How much help will he get from freshman Trey Metoyer and Penn State transfer Justin Brown?
4. Josh Boyce, TCU: Boyce was 2 yards away from 1,000 yards last season, but he's an aerial threat who's also a solid route-runner and he has great hands, too. He's got a great QB in Casey Pachall and a nice supporting cast in the passing game. TCU won't be blowing out many teams this year, and I'd be shocked if Boyce didn't easily clear 1,000 yards.
5. Terrance Williams, Baylor: Williams might challenge for the No. 1 spot, too. He was overshadowed by Kendall Wright last year, but he's got the pleasure of being No. 1 on Mel Kiper's list of draft-eligible receivers for next year's draft. Nick Florence still has a bit to prove, but I wouldn't rule out a 1,500-yard season for Williams in 2012.
6. Eric Ward, Texas Tech: Ward came out of nowhere in the midst of injuries to Tech's receivers last year and racked up 84 receptions for 800 yards. His physical skills won't wow you, but you simply don't argue with production.
7. Tevin Reese, Baylor: Reese is a true speedster who'll probably shoot up this list by season's end with the departure of Kendall Wright. Florence already has chemistry with the undersized junior, who plays a heck of a lot bigger than 5-foot-10, 165 pounds.
8. Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore is anything but undersized. He's still suspended after an offseason DUI and had a rough 2011 marred by injuries, but if he's full strength, he's going to be scary. The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder missed some time but tried to play through some ankle and knee issues last year and caught 47 balls for 571 yards and eight scores. He missed three games last season.
9. Jaxon Shipley, Texas: Shipley made a big impact in Texas' offense last season, despite the position's struggles. He's got an unbelievable knack for the position and instincts you don't see often from a true freshman. As a sophomore, he'll probably remind us even more of his older brother, Jordan, and certainly grow from grabbing 44 balls for 607 yards and three touchdowns.
10. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres is coming back from a torn ACL, but he's been a constant in this league. Unfortunately for him, injuries have been a constant in his career. Last year, it was his back before the knee. He's still never surpassed his 806-yard freshman year, but the pieces are in place for him to do it as a senior this season.