Earlier this week, I wrote about how dominant Big 12 receivers have been so far this year. In this week's Big 12 roundtable, we delve further on the position, breaking down which wideout has been the most impressive, which could challenge for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and the under-the-radar receiver to watch the rest of the way:
Which wide receiver has been most impressive so far this season?
Max Olson: Josh Doctson had the best performance. There’s no disputing that. He was absolutely dominant at Texas Tech. But I’ve been slightly most impressed by Corey Coleman to this point, because I think he’s among the most talented receivers “WRU” has ever seen. He’s produced like an All-American this season, can catch absolutely anything and leads the nation in touchdown catches per game since the start of the 2014 season. With eight already in the bank, Coleman could probably score 20 TDs this year if needed.
Brandon Chatmon: Having seen his 18-reception, 267-yard performance first-hand. Doctson gets my vote. I already knew the TCU receiver was a big play target with an outrageous catch radius and supreme ball skills. But he showed me even more against Texas Tech, displaying an ability to make defenders miss while shouldering the Horned Frogs passing game on his shoulders. And he’s a clutch receiver, leading the Big 12 with eight receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns on third down plays. There are no holes in his game.
Jake Trotter: I agree, Doctson gets the nod here. Coleman has been awesome, but he's been basically going up against air. Sterling Shepard had the big performance at the end at Tennessee, but has been relatively quiet otherwise. What Doctson did at Tech was unbelievable. Injuries had decimated the Horned Frogs at receiver, putting even more pressure on him. Everyone, including Tech, knew where TCU was throwing the ball. And still, the Red Raiders couldn't slow him down, much less stop him. The underrated play of that game? Doctson somehow getting a hand on TCU's final pass, giving Aaron Green the chance to swoop in for the miraculous game-winning touchdown.
Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is the only receiver to win Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Which Big 12 receiver has the best chance to earn that honor this year?
Olson: A quarterback is going to win Offensive Player of the Year in the Big 12 this season. Too many good passers in the league this year. But if I had to pick a receiver, I’d still probably go with Coleman. He just needs to stay healthy -- he’s battled hamstring issues in his career -- to remain a viable candidate in that debate. The versatility he’s displayed as a rusher should help his resume, too.
Chatmon: Max is right on point here, Coleman has the best chance. Why? The way the Bears use him could help give him a leg up on Doctson, Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard or even his teammate K.D. Cannon. Art Briles is very creative as he tries to find ways to get Coleman the ball as we’ve seen the junior line up in the backfield at running back, in the slot and on the outside at receiver and return punts through three games. Coleman will get opportunities to make highlight plays and he will have plenty of special moments during the rest of the regular season.
Trotter: Again, I agree. If anyone is going to win the award from TCU, it's going to be QB Trevone Boykin. Coleman, however, might put up such ridiculous numbers he wedges his way into the conversation. He leads the nation with eight touchdown receptions, even though Baylor has already had an off week. If Coleman breaks Stedman Bailey's Big 12 record of 25 touchdown catches -- and Baylor wins the Big 12 -- he could very well wind up being the league player of the year.
Who is the under-the-radar receiver to watch the rest of the way?
Olson: Texas Tech do-it-all weapon Jakeem Grant. That guy could start for any team in the Big 12. He’s already scores at least one touchdown passing, receiving, rushing and returning a kickoff this season. He’s good for seven catches a game, can beat you deep and is a menace in the open field. Just as good in the return game, too. West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson is still not getting enough pub, either. That’ll change soon.
Chatmon: I’m not expecting Shelton Gibson to be under the radar too much longer either. The sophomore has been putting up big plays but it has been his consistency that has impressed me most. Gibson has scored a touchdown and had a reception of at least 40 yards in every game this season as he strives to replace the big playmaking of Kevin White. With Big 12 play underway, I’m expecting Gibson to continue to make big plays for Dana Holgorsen’s team.
Trotter: I don't know that Gibson and Grant are under the radar. They shouldn't be. Both are averaging more than 100 yards receiving per game. That said, keep an eye on Oklahoma State junior Marcell Ateman. He's quietly off to a strong start after spending last year in Mike Gundy's doghouse. Ateman is a former ESPN 300 recruit, who started as a true freshman. Talent has never been the issue for him. If he's finally putting everything together mentally, at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he could be one of the more difficult matchups at receiver in the league.