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Receiving plenty of attention

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They usually have an air about them. They are the ones that make the ordinary look spectacular and the impossible look routine. The top wide receivers in the country know how to walk the walk and often times, talk the talk. Their presence on the outside is a comfort to their signal-callers and a nightmare for whoever is covering them.

All signs point to a strong quarterback class for the 2011 college football season and part of that is due to the depth of talent sure to be on display at the other end of those passes.

Here are the top wide receivers heading into the 2011 season.

JUSTIN BLACKMON - This Oklahoma State Cowboy has had some off-the-field problems, but on the field, there may not be a better performer week-in and week-out. After posting just 20 reception as a freshman in 2009 as Dez Bryant's understudy, the 6-1, 215-pounder blew up in 2010, hauling in 111 passes, for 1,782 yards and 20 TDs. For his efforts, Blackmon picked up the 2010 Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. Offensive coordinator/guru Dana Holgorsen is no longer in Stillwater (now the head coach at West Virginia), but with savvy gunslinger Brandon Weeden back in the fold, it would seem irresponsible of new OC Todd Monken and head coach Mike Gundy to not stick with what obviously works. Get the ball in Blackmon's hands and reap the rewards.

ALSHON JEFFERY - One of the more gifted athletes to ever don a South Carolina uniform, Jeffery is the complete package. A big physical receiver (6-4, 233), who glides down the field and possesses excellent hands, he could be destined for NFL greatness. Steve Spurrier has the pleasure of getting him back on the field for the Gamecocks in 2011. He hauled in 88 passes, for 1,517 yards (both single-season school records) and nine TDs as a sophomore in 2010, en route to All-American honors and being named a Biletnikoff Award finalist. He was clearly a key contributor to South Carolina's SEC East title and will undoubtedly make his presence felt in the Gamecocks' quest to successfully defend that crown in 2011.

MICHAEL FLOYD - Also no stranger to off-the-field headlines, this Golden Domer is all about the big play. Notre Dame receives plenty of national attention on a weekly basis and Floyd has certainly benefited from it. It also happens that he is a spectacular, highlight-reel type of player that can take over games. A big receiver at 6-3, 227 pounds, Floyd causes matchup problems for defenses all over the field. He caught 79 balls in 2010, for 1,025 yards and 12 TDs and should be able to increase those numbers in 2011. Floyd is currently suspended for a DUI arrest, but if he stays on the straight and narrow path, he will find his way back on the field for the Irish this season. Notre Dame's opponents won't be happy about that.
Ryan Broyles already owns 10 school records and more are sure to come in 2011.


RYAN BROYLES - Smaller in stature than his predecessors on this list, the 5-11, 187-pound Broyles has played just as big and has put up unmatched numbers over the last two seasons in Norman. Bob Stoops has something special in his aerial assault, as the Landry Jones/Ryan Broyles combination rivals any in the country. All Broyles has done over the past two seasons is catch 220 passes, for 2,742 yards and 29 TDs. In 2010, this Sooner hauled in 131 balls, for 1,622 yards and 14 TDs, earning All-American status and being tabbed a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Broyles already owns 10 school records and more are sure to come in 2011.

JURON CRINER - Big is the central theme on this list of wideouts and the 6-4, 215-pound Wildcat once again fits the mold. Criner posted one of the best in Arizona history in 2010, earning All-Pac-10 First-Team honors, hauling in 82 balls, for 1,233 yards and 11 TDs. He gets better with each season in Tucson and could very well be mentioned among the nation's top few receivers if that trend continues.

ROBERT WOODS - The 2010 Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year, the 6-1, 180 pound Woods flourished in his first season at USC. The Trojans being in NCAA purgatory may have caused Woods to go unnoticed on the national level in 2010, but he could become a household name in 2011. Last year he finished with 65 receptions, for 792 yards and six TDs and set the school freshman record with 1,817 all-purpose yards, en route to Freshman All-American honors.

GREG CHILDS - In Bobby Petrino's offense, Childs is the unsung hero. A big possession type receiver at 6-3, 217 pounds, this Razorback could be poised for a monstrous 2011. His 2010 campaign was cut short by injury, but he did catch 46 passes, for 659 yards and six TDs in his brief time on the field, giving everyone a taste of his enormous talent. Gunslinger Ryan Mallett has moved on to the NFL, but Tyler Wilson is an intriguing quarterback heading into this season and could blossom into an SEC star. If that is the case, a healthy Childs will certainly have a big part in it.

JEFF FULLER - Blackmon and Broyles are the gold standard in the Big 12 at the receiver position, but this Aggie has made an impact as well. As a sophomore in 2010, the 6-4, 215-pound Fuller missed four games, but still finished with 41 receptions, for 568 yards and seven TDs. Staying healthy is the key for Fuller, who could put up huge numbers in perhaps his last season in College Station.

JERMAINE KEARSE - Yet another big target, this Washington Husky (6-2, 205) has been a monster in the Pacific Northwest from day one. Kearse picked up All- Pac-10 Second Team honors in 2010, finishing the year with 63 receptions, for 1,005 yards and 12 TDs. He is the go-to-guy downfield for head coach Steve Sarkisian. Although star QB Jake Locker has moved on, a productive ground game should open things up for Kearse once again. The Huskies are still not ready to vie for a conference crown, but it won't be from a lack of production on the outside.

KENDALL WRIGHT - At 5-10, 180 pounds, this Baylor Bear has been productive in Waco, flying a bit under the radar. He is undoubtedly star QB Robert Griffin's go-to-guy, coming off his finest season yet, with 78 receptions, for 952 yards and seven TDs in 2010. If Griffin and Wright both stay healthy in 2011, the bar could be raised even higher, with Wright eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards and reaching double digits in scores.

HONORABLE MENTION - Dwayne Harris (East Carolina), Chris Owusu (Stanford), Dwight Jones (North Carolina), T.J. Moe (Missouri), Patrick Edwards (Houston), Lance Lewis (East Carolina), Jarrett Boykin (Virginia Tech), De Vier Posey (Ohio State), Nick Toon (Wisconsin), James Rodgers (Oregon State).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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