RANKINGS - WIDE RECEIVERS
How could a
trio of NFL caliber wide receivers not be considered the number
one group in the country? Roy Williams needs no introduction. The
long striding, 6'4'' wide out finally looks like he's ready to step
up against top-notch competition after torching the Tigers in last
year's Cotton Bowl. B.J. Johnson continues his role as the #2 option
with big play ability, while Sloan Thomas returns as the under-utilized,
but most consistent of the three. The Longhorns are also not short
on depth with a slew of young wide-outs to call on if/when needed.
TE Brock Edwards returns with former starter Bo Scaife (ACL tear
suffered early last year).
Why #1? Surprisingly enough it has more to do with everyone else
outside of Roy Williams. BJ Johnson is a very good #2, while Sloan
Thomas is probably the best #3 in the country. Depth and talent
at Tight End is also excellent.
Not many teams
have the luxury of sporting two 1000-yard receivers at their disposal.
Headlining the nations best 1-2 punch at wide receiver is the 6'4''
Mike Williams. Williams exploded onto the scene to lead the Trojans
in receiving yards as a true freshman. If not for some shaky hand
eye coordination, he could have improved on his 1265 yards from
2002. Returning opposite of Williams will be one of the best #2
options you'll see anywhere in the nation, Keary Colbert. Also looking
to contribute will be Justin Wyatt and prized recruits Steve Smith
and Withney Lewis. Cemented in at the tight end spot is the productive
Alex Holmes who returns as one of the best tight ends in the Pac-10
Why #2? The Trojans have the best 1-2 punch in the nation to go
along with great young depth.
You don't become
an All-SEC quarterback without having a little help from one of
the best receiving units in the country. Providing big play ability
will be the 6'4'' Fred Gibson who is likely to start opposite Michael
Johnson. The 6'3'' Johnson is most known for his late 4th quarter,
clutch go-ahead TD reception that beat Auburn and clinch the SEC
east. Damien Gary who missed the entire 2nd half of the season returns
for his senior year as one of the country's best #3 options. Reggie
Brown (22 rec) will look fill in nicely at the 4th slot. Ben Watson,
one of the top athletic TEs in the country, looks to improve on
his totals with a healthier 2003 campaign.
Why #3? Not that Fred Gibson and Michael Johnson aren't a great
combo, but the unit's biggest strength is its depth and talent at
There is defiantly
no shortage of quality depth at Wisconsin. With size, game-breaking
speed and possession receiving ability to spare, this group has
it all. Making a grand return from an ACL tear is former Biletnikoff
finalist Lee Evans. Evans will join the quick Brandon Williams,
along with the daunting duo of Jonathan Orr and Darrin Charles.
Occupying the tight end roles will be Tony Paciotti and Bob Docherty
who both spent time as starters last year.
Why #4? If Lee Evans returns to his 2001 form, this unit could be
better than 4th but for now depth is its most impressive attribute.
While no one outside of a healthy Evans is outstanding, #3 through
#5 are pretty good while Orr looks like a future star.
shouldn't be, considering UCLA returns perhaps the biggest collection
of big play wide receivers in the country. With every single receiver
being no shorter than 6'2'' and averaging at least 14 yards a reception,
this group's biggest problem might be the lack of an All-Conference
quarterback. Regardless wide outs Craig Bragg and Tab Perry will
start, with Junior Taylor and Ryan Smith backing them up. Replacing
Mike Seidman at the tight end spot will probably be the athletically
gifted (6'6'') Mercedes Lewis.
#5? There is too much athletic talent to ignore this group. While
some inconsistency between various players hurt, there was always
someone ready to make big plays.
Just Missed: Marshall
Both Josh Davis
and Darius Watts return as the Thundering Herd's top two receivers.
While combining for 2,163 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, the
speedy duo makes up one of the better 1-2 punches in the country
despite some lapses of concentration suffered last season. Because
Marshall regularly uses 3- and 4-wide receiver sets, Jason Schroeder
will have to step up and take over the spot previously occupied
by the departed Denero Marriot. Returning from a 30 catch and 320-yard
season will be senior tight end Jason Rader.
Could be there: Ohio State
Most of us are
aware of the abilities of Michael Jenkins' (1076 yards) big play
ability and Chris Gamble's talents as a dangerous (part time?) wide
receiver. Yet, what could end up being a surprise to some is the
ability of everyone else. Drew Carter, Brandon "Bam" Childress,
and Santonio Holmes may lack experience but certainly not talent.
Also under utilized is the dependable Ben Hartsock who not only
blocks well, but, if asked, stretches the field, too. If Jim Tressel
chooses to show some confidence in Craig Krenzel's ability to air
the ball out a little more, we could see a group of receivers as
dangerous the Buckeyes' rushers.