Preseason position reviews: receiver

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
5:37
PM ET
It has become a difficult day to rank Pac-12 teams at receiver due to reports of the uncertain health of Arizona's Juron Criner.

Criner is only the best returning receiver in the conference, a potential All-American and the leader of one of the nation's best units. Still, the Wildcats would rate in "great shape" on this list even without Criner, though they wouldn't top it.

As for the conference as a whole at receiver, things look pretty solid, top-to-bottom. Even the two teams in "We'll see," aren't desperate at the position.

So how do things stack up? Read on.

[Note: Stanford was left off the original version -- a cut and paste error, no less -- apologies].

Great shape

Arizona: The Wildcats may have the best collection of receivers in the nation. First-team All-Pac-10 selection Criner is the headliner, but there's also David Douglas, David Roberts, Terrence Miller and Richard Morrison -- each caught between 19 and 52 passes a season ago. Oh, and there's also Texas transfer Dan Buckner, Austin Hill, Garic Wharton and Tyler Slavin. There's size, speed, depth and experience.

[+] EnlargeJermaine Kearse
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesJermaine Kearse had his best season yet for the Huskies, catching 63 passes for 1,005 yards.
Washington: Jermaine Kearse, second-team All-Pac-10, is a 1,000-yard receiver who caught 12 touchdown passes. Devin Aguilar has 90 career receptions. James Johnson struggled to get in sync last season but caught 39 passes as a true freshman in 2009. Kevin Smith turned in a good spring, and hopes are stratospheric for incoming freshman All-American Kasen Williams.

Washington State: Marquess Wilson was a 1,000-yard receiver as a true freshman. Jared Karstetter caught 62 passes. Gino Simone has seen plenty of action, while hopes are high for redshirt freshman Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff. Quarterback Jeff Tuel has plenty of targets for what should be a potent passing attack.

USC: Perhaps no team has more upside than the Trojans. Sophomore Robert Woods is a potential All-American, while Brandon Carswell and Brice Butler are experienced players. But the upside is all about incoming freshman George Farmer and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater. If those two live up to their talents, the Trojans will be tough to stop in the passing game.

Good shape

California: Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones are a potentially strong tandem if the Bears get good quarterback play. Oft-injured Michael Calvin posted a solid spring. Kaelin Clay has a lot of speed, and he and Coleman Edmond need to step up.

Arizona State: T.J. Simpson's knee injury didn't help, but the Sun Devils are fairly deep and experienced at the position. Gerell Robinson was a standout this spring, while Mike Willie, Aaron Pflugrad and Jamal Miles each caught at least 25 passes in 2010. George Bell, A.J. Pickens, J.J. Holliday and Kevin Anderson provide good depth.

UCLA: Just because UCLA couldn't pass in 2010 doesn't mean it's bad at receiver. It certainly will be experienced in 2011 because everybody is back. Nelson Rosario has the talent to be a star, as do Randall Carroll and Josh Smith. Still, the Bruins lack consistency at the position -- too many dropped balls, too few big plays.

Oregon State: With a healthy James Rodgers and Jordan Bishop, the Beavers are in "great shape." But they have enough talent and experience at the position to at least end up in pretty good shape even if they don't. Markus Wheaton caught 55 passes as a sophomore, while Darrell Catchings and Geno Munoz are two guys who can help, if they can stay healthy. Kevin Cummings also should see action in the slot.

Utah: DeVonte Christopher, the second-leading receiver from 2010, and he's the only returning receiver who caught more than 20 passes, but the Utes feel pretty good about the guys they have coming back. With Reggie Dunn, Dres Anderson, Luke Matthews, Dexter Ransom and Kenneth Scott.

We'll see

Oregon: Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis are gone and they took 119 receptions with them. Lavasier Tuinei caught 36 passes and Josh Huff caught 19, but there's little experience beyond that. The Ducks are stacked at tight end and the incoming class is thick with speedy, touted receivers. But, as we've said before, "we'll see."

Colorado: Colorado has two guys it can count on in Paul Richardson and Tony Clemons, who combined for 77 receptions in 2010. After that, things are fairly questionable.

Stanford: Andrew Luck is the best QB in the nation and the Cardinal is loaded at tight end, but the top-two wide outs from 2010 are gone -- Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen -- and there are a lot of questions here. If Chris Owusu gets healthy and stays healthy, then the Cardinal has a speedy, dangerous deep threat, but that's a big if. And after him, there's not much experience. Drew Terrell, Darren Daniel, Griff Whalen and Jamal-Rashad Patterson need to step up.

Ted Miller | email

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