Ranking 2014 position groups by team: Wide Receiver
Breaking down every team’s roster with an emphasis on experience and potential impact, here’s a team-by-team look at the SEC’s best position groups at wide receiver heading into the 2014 season.
Note: These are based on every team’s roster at the wide receiver position, not starting wide receiver rankings.
- SEC’s best players by position
- Team Position Rankings: Quarterbacks
- Team Position Rankings: Running Backs
- Team Position Rankings: Wide Receivers
- Team Position Rankings: Offensive Line
- Team Position Rankings: Defensive Line
- Team Position Rankings: Linebackers
- Team Position Rankings: Defensive Backs
14. Vanderbilt: No team in the SEC will feel the loss of an impact player as much as the Commodores at wide receiver. Jordan Matthews left Nashville as the most prolific pass-catcher in league history, amassing 262 career receptions for 3,759 receiving yards. Jordan Cunningham’s shown potential, but has a long way to go before developing into a true No. 1.
13. Arkansas: Keon Hatcher didn’t take kindly to the Brandon Allen bashing during last season’s tumultuous 0-8 SEC season. He’s working on changing that this fall, but he’s one of only two returning Razorback receivers (Eric Hawkins the other) who caught a pass in 2013. Demetrius Wilson’s back after missing the 2013 season with an ACL injury.
12. Kentucky: Javess Blue isn’t the only star on the rise in the Kentucky receiving corps. All-purpose player Ryan Timmons is a home run threat and took a short hitch 51 yards to the end zone at Mississippi St. last season. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown wants to see more yards after the catch this fall.
11. Mizzou: Dorial Green-Beckham may have been the SEC’s best wide receiver coming into the 2014 season, but his off-the-field transgressions led to his dismissal from the program. He’s one of three leading receivers the Tigers must replace during quarterback Maty Mauk’s first season as the starter. Bud Sasser, Marcus Murphy and Jimmie Hunt will have to produce.
10. Florida: Despite the loss of leading receiver Solomon Patton and a steady Trey Burton, the Gators feel like they have some options at receiver, a position that hasn’t seen a dominant performer in several years. Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood and Andre Debose will share the load under first-year coordinator Kurt Roper who directed three 1,000-yard wideouts over his final two seasons at Duke. Dunbar notched 40 receptions for 548 yards last fall, but didn’t score.
9. LSU: How can the Tigers replace two 1,000-yard receivers? They have at least one answer with Malachi Dupre, the nation’s top-rated player at his position in the 2014 signing class. Dupre’s not a No. 1 yet, but he’ll battle sophomore Travin Dural throughout the season for top billing in Cam Cameron’s run-heavy scheme. Much is expected of Dural who is a tough cover in space, but will need to show more consistency as he enters his second season.
8. Mississippi St.: Who is the SEC’s best player you’ve likely heard nothing about? Jameon Lewis, the Bulldogs’ all-everything senior who broke through the proverbial career wall last season with a team-best 64 catches for 923 yards, is the ‘X-Factor’ in what’s expected to be an explosive Dak Prescott-led offense. Sophomore De’Runnya Wilson’s been nearly unguardable during fall camp and is poised to assault SEC defenses this season with his size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and quickness.
7. Tennessee: Loaded with potential, true freshman Josh Malone and chiseled sophomore Marquez North are the main cogs in a talented but inexperienced group in Knoxville. If Pig Howard continues to develop and Jason Croom proves to be an explosive 6-foot-5 monster, starting quarterback Justin Worley’s not going to have any excuses down the field with several big-play threats.
6. South Carolina: Sophomore Pharoh Cooper is the Gamecocks’ rising star, but Shaq Roland’s the guy who will emerge as the No. 1 option for Dylan Thompson this season. Roland’s shown flashes of greatness during his career and is looking to become South Carolina’s fourth straight star junior wideout to skip his senior season for the NFL Draft. Damiere Byrd’s a prolific deep threat with a career average of 19.9 yards per catch. Six of his seven touchdowns over his first three seasons have spanned at least 30 yards including a 76-yarder last fall at Tennessee. Shamier Jeffery, Alshon’s brother, could be a factor as a redshirt junior.
5. Ole Miss: By the end of the 2014 season, Laquon Treadwell will be one of college football’s most well-known performers, a sure 1,000-yard receiver as the face of the resurgent Rebels. Sophomore Evan Engram’s listed at tight end, but as a budding hybrid option in Hugh Freeze’s attack, he’ll develop into a pro-ready wideout with the team’s second-most touchdowns. Engram averaged 12.8 yards per catch last season and should assume the role as the No. 2 behind Treadwell after Donte Moncrief’s departure. Though his numbers dipped as a junior, Vince Sanders is a player to watch.
4. Alabama: As a threat to score after every reception, Amari Cooper’s separation skills in 1-on-1 situations are flawless. Christion Jones, a special teams star, is another burner who came into his own as a receiving option as a junior. The Crimson Tide’s expecting big things out of senior DeAndrew White who is back at full strength after missing spring practice with a toe injury. He’s coming off a career-high 534-yard junior campaign during which he doubled his career touchdown total.
3. Georgia: This unit’s hurting a bit with Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley on the mend, but veteran flanker Chris Conley and sure-handed senior Michael Bennett should provide more than enough support for quarterback Hutson Mason as he adjusts to being the guy for the Bulldogs. Georgia’s bunch is the SEC’s most well-rounded off the field. Mitchell’s a book club member and Conley’s a future award-winning film director. By the end of the season if Mitchell’s back to full strength, Georgia’s crop of experienced wideouts could be the league’s most productive.
2. Auburn: Sammie Coates is the well-known beast on the outside, but the acquisition of top-rated JUCO transfer Duke Williams during the offseason turned this passing game up a notch for Gus Malzahn and Nick Marshall. Adding Williams to a well-established set of field-stretchers featuring seniors Quan Bray and Ricardo Louis eliminates any weaknesses the Tigers may have had when deciding to throw this season. Defenses will need to keep a player on Melvin Ray as well, a former baseball player in the Los Angeles Dodgers system who scored his first collegiate touchdown against Florida St. last season.
1. Texas A&M: Luckily for new quarterbacks Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen, the Aggies are loaded at the wide receiver position even without Mike Evans. Veteran Malcome Kennedy headlines a unit that will utilize a wide variety of skills — speed, size, strength and athleticism — this season in Texas A&M’s wide-open offense. Ricky Seals-Jones is a 1,000-yard threat now that he’s back to full strength while five-star Speedy Noil’s one of the most anticipated true freshmen in college football coming in. Noil looks the part and has had a terrific fall camp. A spitting on-field image of Peter Warrick, Noil possesses the same dynamic play-making ability on offense and special teams that helped the former Florida State speedster enter the Heisman race in 1999. Both are former prep quarterbacks and have a similar 5-11, 190-pound build.