The batch of receivers last season in the SEC was as good as I’ve ever seen.
In fact, I don’t think there was a stronger position in the league from top to bottom.
But start putting together a top 10 list, and you realize pretty quickly that the well has hardly run dry.
Here’s an early (I repeat, an early) glance at how I would rank the 10 best returning receivers in the SEC:
1. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina: South Carolina fans had better enjoy Jeffery in 2011, because he has NFL written all over him. What an incredible blend of size, athletic ability and hands.
2. Greg Childs, Arkansas: Had Childs not gotten hurt last season, he’d be another SEC receiver we’d be talking about going high in the NFL draft right now.
3. Joe Adams, Arkansas: One of the most exciting players in the country after the catch. Adams did have a few too many drops last season, but he’s a big play waiting to happen.
4. Jarius Wright, Arkansas: They just keep churning out big-time receivers at Arkansas under Bobby Petrino. Wright really came on last season for the Hogs.
5. Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State: Is this the year that Bumphis goes from being a very good receiver to a great receiver? He has all the tools.
6. Justin Hunter, Tennessee: Throw it somewhere in the vicinity, and Hunter will go get it with his freakish leaping ability. He caught seven touchdown passes last season as a true freshman.
7. Emory Blake, Auburn: One of the more improved receivers in the league, Blake looms as the Tigers’ go-to guy in 2011. He led the team with eight touchdown catches last season.
8. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas: Petrino has said that Hamilton might end up being the best receiver of the bunch. He caught six touchdown passes and averaged 19.7 yards per catch last season.
9. Rueben Randle, LSU: He’s much more talented than his numbers suggest to this point. And with Steve Kragthorpe taking over the LSU offense, look for Randle to break out next season as a junior.
10. Marquis Maze, Alabama: After playing in the shadow of Julio Jones, it’s Maze’s time to be the focal point in the Tide’s passing game. He’s already proved that he’s one of the SEC’s best deep threats.