Projecting SEC stat leaders: Wide Receiver
Will Laquon Treadwell push Ole Miss from darkhorse into contender? Can Alabama’s Amari Cooper return to 2012 form? No longer an unknown, what does Mississippi State’s Jameon Lewis have in store for his encore?
Another exciting SEC season is upon us and this week, we’ll try and guess the numbers for the league’s top talent at several positions.
To projected stat leaders for 2014:
Let’s break down the SEC’s best wide receivers by class before moving into statistical projections:
MEET THE ELITE
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss: The SEC’s returning leader in receptions, Treadwell’s still labeled as a possession receiver for the Rebels, but has the moxie to be one of college football’s premiere talents on the outside if Ole Miss incorporates his skills down the field. Tough to contain at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Treadwell’s touchdown numbers should improve drastically as Bo Wallace’s best option in the red zone.
Amari Cooper, Alabama: If speed kills, the Crimson Tide’s main receiving threat is an assassin with a nearly unlimited supply of ammo. Cooper received more All-SEC first team votes (282) than any other player — at any position — during SEC Media Days in Hoover. Should this junior playmaker return to 2012 form (1,000 yards; 11 TD), he’ll likely be a first-round pick in next season’s NFL Draft.
Sammie Coates, Auburn: One of five SEC players ranked in Bruce Feldman’s ‘Freaks’ list of 2014, Coates is considered one of the country’s most fiercest competitors with a level of strength often reserved for linebackers and 300-pound linemen. Remember what he did to a hapless Texas A&M defensive back last season? Coates’ power off the snap is something you can’t teach and there’s not many pass catchers who can routinely bench 400-plus. Should the Tigers throw the football more this season, Coates will exceed 1,000 yards. We’re expecting the offense to remain run-heavy.
Jameon Lewis, Mississippi St.: The last of the aforementioned elite, Lewis recently joined Treadwell, Cooper and Coates on the Biletnikoff watch list. He’s not sneaking up on any defenses this season and sticks out on film like a sore thumb. Lewis is the Bulldogs’ most versatile player and if he stays healthy, should finish second behind Dak Prescott in yards of total offense.
VERGE OF STARDOM
Marquez North, Tennessee: Look up ‘BEAST’ in the dictionary and you’ll find a photo of North’s mug next to Godzilla, the king of the monsters. By season’s end, North has a chance to be king of SEC receivers if Butch Jones can lock in a reliable quarterback. North’s catch radius is his best attribute, revealed last season when the freshman hauled in several passes most receivers would’ve mishandled. When the ball’s in the air, North’s ability to snatch it away from defensive backs looks effortless.
D’haquille Williams, Auburn: Coates’ sidekick will be one of the SEC’s top newcomers, a wideout with tremendous talent and confidence coming off 26 career touchdowns over two seasons in the JUCO ranks. A second No. 1 caliber receiver to compliment Coates provides the Tigers with balance and creates quite the headache for opposing secondaries inching toward the line of scrimmage to try and cheat against the run.
TIME TO PRODUCE
Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M: Mike Evans lite? Seals-Jones should put up special numbers as the main target in Texas A&M’s pass attack after he re-adjusts to game speed following a missed season due to injury. In full stride, there are few receivers more lethal than this redshirt freshman, a player capable of going 80 yards to the end zone every time he touches the football.
Shaq Roland, South Carolina: Now’s the time for Roland, a prolific prep star who has shown flashes of brilliance thus far in Columbia, S.C. By midseason, we’re predicting that Roland will have developed into Dylan Thompson’s big-play receiver across the middle and his touchdown numbers will show it. A crisp route runner, Roland’s interchangeable as a first-down option or deep threat.
Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia: There’s a handful of Bulldog wideouts hoping to emerge as Hutson Mason’s preferred target, but Mitchell’s the guy as long as he finds a way to stay on the field. Mitchell and fellow junior Justin Scott-Wesley are returning from serious knee injuries and whether or not their speed’s been affected remains to be seen.
Receiving TD Leaders (minimum 8)
Treadwell 12; Roland 11; Cooper 11; Lewis 9; Seals-Jones 9; Coates 9; Williams 8
Receiving Yardage Leaders (minimum 900)
Treadwell 1,110; Lewis 1,008; Coates 988; Roland 948; Cooper 902
Receptions Leaders (minimum 55)
Treadwell 88, Lewis 70; Seals-Jones 63; Cooper 57; Roland 56; Coates 55
Yards Per Reception Leaders (minimum 6.0, 100 attempts)
Coates 17.9; Roland 16.9; Cooper 15.8; Williams 15.1; Lewis 14.4; North 13.7; Mitchell 13.1; Seals-Jones 12.7; Treadwell 12.5
Receptions Per Game Leaders (minimum 5.0)
Treadwell 6.8; Lewis 5.4; Seals-Jones 5.3