Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The last two weeks we have looked over the top QBs and RBs coming into the 2008 campaign. This week will complete the "skill position" landscape with the top wide receivers across the country.
Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) - He plays in Lubbock and that in and of itself makes it a little unfair in terms of statistics, but the 6-3 youngster lit it up nonetheless last season, setting NCAA freshman records for receptions (134), receiving yards (1,962) and TD receptions (22). The 2007 Biletnikoff Award winner was a Unanimous First-Team All-American and will once again put up huge numbers. The only real question if he remains healthy, is how long head coach Mike Leach will have him at his disposal.
Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) - The Big 12 is stocked with young and talented pass- catchers, and if not for Crabtree's amazing season, this guy would have stolen all the headlines. The 6-1 Maclin set an NCAA FBS single-season record for freshmen with a staggering 2,776 all-purpose yards. Another First-Team All- American, this electrifying Tiger caught 80 passes for 1,055 yards and nine TDs, adding another four scores as a rusher and three more on returns (two on punts and one on a kickoff).
Last season Michael Crabtree set NCAA freshman records for receptions (134), receiving yards (1,962) and TD |
Percy Harvin (Florida) - One of the best dual threats in the college ranks, this Gator has proven tough to tackle both as a tailback and as a receiver. On the ground, he finished second on the team in rushing as a sophomore in 2007, averaging an eye-popping 9.2 yards per carry and finishing with 764 yards and six TDs on a mere 83 carries. He also led the team in receptions, with 59 catches, for 858 yards (14.5 ypc) with four more scores. Being Tim Tebow's favorite target will do wonders for the 5-11, 180-pounder this season.
Aaron Kelly (Clemson) - The Tigers are the popular pick to win the ACC this year and if that happens, Kelly could be a big reason why. With great height (6-5) and good hands, he could put up even bigger numbers in Clemson's productive offensive scheme. He has gotten better and better each season and finished 2007 with team-highs in receptions (88), receiving yards (1,081) and TD receptions (11). Kelly will certainly rewrite the record books for Clemson receivers this season, barring any injuries.
Brian Robiskie (Ohio State) - Robiskie has blossomed into one of the most reliable targets in the nation and could complete his collegiate career with a huge season in 2008. On one of the nation's most balanced attacks in Columbus, this 6-3 Buckeye has taken over as the top threat downfield. He garnered All-Big Ten accolades last season after leading Ohio State in receptions (55), receiving yards (935) and TD catches (11). Look for another step up in production as a senior.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) - Heyward-Bey certainly has pro-level talent and could showcase that in 2008. As a sophomore in 2007, the 6-2, 206-pounder was named an All-American Honorable Mention, after leading Maryland in receptions (51) and receiving yards (786). With great size and blazing speed (sub-4.3 forty time), Maryland's top target could be in for a monster season if Ralph Friedgen decides to open things up more.
Derek Kinder (Pittsburgh) - A First-Team All-Big East selection and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist in 2006, this Panther needs to prove he has returned to full strength after missing the entire 2007 season with a torn ACL. There is no denying the immense talent, as the 6-1, 210-pounder burst on the scene as a junior two years ago, finishing with 57 receptions, for 847 yards and six TDs. With a productive ground game in place in Pittsburgh, the sky is the limit for Kinder, provided his health does not cost him anymore playing time.
Demetrius Byrd (LSU) - Byrd made an immediate impact after transferring to LSU from Pearl River Community College, finishing 2007 with a team-high seven TD receptions. He was also third on the team in receptions (35) and second in receiving yards (621). Of his 35 receptions, nine went for 20 or more yards, so his ability to get downfield and make plays is undeniable. The 6-2, 200- pounder should have a breakout season in 2008, even if the QB position in Baton Rouge is not exactly stable.
Jarrett Dillard (Rice) - The active NCAA career leader in receptions (205), receiving yards (2,828) and TD catches (40), there is no denying Dillard's legitimacy on this list. Despite playing for Rice and not getting the national attention that others on this list receive, the 5-11 Owl simply gets the job done. In 2007, Dillard caught 79 balls, for 1,057 yards and 14 TDs. The scary thing about those numbers is the fact that they were a step down from 2006, when he earned First-Team All-American honors after totaling 91 receptions, for 1,247 yards and 21 TDs.
Mike Thomas (Arizona) - Thomas lacks the ideal size that most of the top targets have, but this Wildcat has played much bigger than his 5-8, 195-pound frame would suggest. A First-Team All-Pac-10 selection in 2007, Thomas led the conference in receptions (83, 6.9 per game), going for 1,038 yards and 11 TDs. The diminutive pass-catcher is perfect in the slot, with the ability to get lost in traffic and emerge with big plays downfield.
BEST OF THE REST:
Greg Carr (Florida State), Brandon Gibson (Washington State), Tiquan Underwood (Rutgers), Chris Williams (New Mexico State), Patrick Turner (USC)