Monday, August 12, 2013
Big 12 position rankings: Wide receivers
By David Ubben
The Big 12's had crazy strong receivers in the past few seasons, but is dealing with plenty of inexperience this season and players with potential but not as much experience.
Here's how I rank the league's receiving units. (Note: The league's crop of tight ends is pretty thin, so I lumped in those guys to the receiver rankings.)
Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart leads an experienced and proven wide receiver group.
1. Oklahoma State:Josh Stewart is the Big 12's leading returning receiver, but the Cowboys also return six receivers who had at least 200 receiving yards a season ago, including four with at least 394 yards. That's a whole lot of depth. Tight end Blake Jackson should be due for a big year, and Tracy Moore gets a second chance at his senior year. Charlie Moore came on strong last year, and keep an eye on newcomers Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples, too.
2. Texas Tech:Eric Ward is the Big 12's only returning 1,000-yard receiver, and TE Jace Amaro is the Big 12's best player at his position. Jakeem Grant is ready for a breakout season and is one of the league's most dangerous players with the ball in his hand. Bradley Marquez is also back after a minor league baseball stint with the New York Mets. Just a solid, solid group all around with a great balance of size, speed and route-running ability.
3. Baylor: Who cares if Terrance Williams is gone? He led the nation in receiving a year ago, but the Bears have tons of impressive pieces ready to fill the void. Tevin Reese will have a bigger role after catching 53 balls for 957 yards a year ago, and Levi Norwood nearly topped 500 yards himself. Keep an eye out for two new names: Redshirt freshman Corey Coleman and true freshman Robbie Rhodes. Older players like juniors Clay Fuller and Antwan Goodley make this group very, very deep, and don't be surprised if unknown Jay Lee becomes a major factor in the offense after a huge spring. His 2012 was marred by knee injury and he never quite got on track.
5. Texas:Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley are a great 1-2 punch, and Davis benefited greatly from QB David Ash's ability to throw more accurately down the field. If TE M.J. MacFarland and Kendall Sanders can improve after good offseasons as sophomores, Ash will benefit even more. Losing Cayleb Jones hurts more than you might think, though.
6. Kansas State: You can't ever look at the numbers with this group, especially after two seasons of throwing the ball fewer times than just about anyone in the Big 12. Collin Klein and John Hubert were great players, but don't take the lack of tosses as an indictment of Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson's skills. They could be 1,000-yard receivers in different systems. Junior Curry Sexton will be called on a bit more this season.
7. West Virginia: I feel a little foolish with this group this far down the list, but I'd feel equally foolish giving the Mountaineers a higher spot with so many unproven players. I voted Kevin White as the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year and he's my pick to lead WVU in receiver, but Ivan McCartney is back on the team. Connor Arlia and K.J. Myers are two more big talents, and true freshman Daikiel Shorts and sophomore Jordan Thompson give WVU even more depth. Don't be surprised if WVU is arguably the best receiving corps in the league by season's end, but they've got a lot to prove.
8. TCU: Losing Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson hurts, but TCU has a ton of potential at this spot, too, even if it's unproven. Brandon Carter figures to have his first 1,000-yard season with Casey Pachall back at QB. LaDarius Brown and Cam White have tons of potential. Florida transfer Ja'Juan Story has turned heads since coming to TCU and finally takes the field later this month. Gary Patterson has raved about tight end Stephen Bryant, too. This group could be in the top 3-4 by season's end.
9. Iowa State:Quenton Bundrage and Ernst Brun will be better this season than people think, but ISU still has to replace its top three receivers and lacks depth at this position. Jarvis West is a good playmaker with the ball in his hand, and Tad Ecby needs to become a bigger factor this fall.
10. Kansas: By now, odds are high that you realize Kansas' receivers caught as many touchdowns last season as you, me and Charlie Weis did. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay provides some hope for the position, but he's still a guy without a catch as a collegiate athlete. Tre Parmalee and Christian Matthews can make plays with the ball in their hands, and I suppose I'll count Tony Pierson as a part of this position group now that he's working out of the slot some. Juco star Rodriguez Coleman needs to emerge, and as of last week, the Jayhawks won't have Miami (OH) transfer WR Nick Harwell until 2014.