Wide Receiver U: SEC East dominates top pass-catching units
Spanning the last 25 years, Saturday Down South has looked at the quality and volume of each SEC program’s NFL Draft picks at the wide receiver position to determine which school deserves the title of Wide Receiver U.
‘The U’ Series
Florida’s production at the wide receiver position was incredible under Steve Spurrier in the 1990s as seven of the program’s Top 10 all-time leading pass-catchers started under the Head Ball Coach. The Gators’ 23 total draft picks at the position is five more than their nearest SEC competitor.
Which SEC team deserves the title of Wide Receiver U?
4. South Carolina (10 Total Draft picks, Notables: Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson, Sidney Rice, Kenny McKinley, Alshon Jeffery, Ace Sanders, Bruce Ellington) — A few teams have had more than 10 selections at the position over the last 25 years, but few have had the substantial NFL impact of Sharpe, Brooks and Jeffery … Sharpe, the seventh overall pick in 1989, averaged 1,162 yards per season for the Green Bay Packers over a seven-year span before a neck injury shortened a potential Hall of Fame career … Five of South Carolina’s Top 6 receivers since 1956 are members of this group … Williamson’s the only member with less than 100 career catches, but did average a group-high 19.3 yards per reception during his career …
Noteworthy totals in Columbia
- Jeffery: 183 catches, 3,042 yds, 23 TD
- McKinley: 207 catches, 2,781 yds, 19 TD
- Sharpe: 169 catches, 2,497 yds, 17 TD
- Rice: 142 catches, 2,233 yds, 23 TD
- Brooks: 156 catches, 2,211 yds, 19 TD
3. Tennessee (18 Total Draft picks: Anthony Morgan, Alvin Harper, Carl Pickens, Cory Fleming, Billy Williams, Nilo Silvan, Joey Kent, Andy McCollough, Marcus Nash, Peerless Price, Cedric Wilson, Donte Stallworth, Kelley Washington, Mark Jones, Robert Meachem, Denarius Moore, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson) — Based on career yardage, each of the Vols’ Top 5 receivers over the last 60 years are members of this list — Kent, Nash, Price, Meachem, Wilson … Kent holds school records in receptions, yards and touchdowns … Price caught four passes in the 1998 National Championship Game for 199 yards and a touchdown during Tennessee’s win over Florida State … He was Peyton Manning’s favorite target in previous years and went on to record 403 career receptions for over 5,000 yards in nine NFL seasons.
Noteworthy totals in Knoxville
- Kent: 183 catches, 2,814 yds, 25 TD
- Nash: 177 catches, 2,447 yds, 20 TD
- Price: 147 catches, 2,298 yds, 19 TD
2. LSU: (18 Total Draft Picks, Notables: Eddie Kennison, Michael Clayton, Josh Reed, Devery Henderson, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Early Doucet, Brandon LaFell, Rueben Randle, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.) — Reed, LSU’s all-time leading receiver, was a consensus All-America and won the Biletnikoff award in 2001 after posting an FBS high in catches (94) and yards (1,740) … The Tigers have had five first-round picks since 1989 — Kennison, Clayton, Davis, Bowe and Beckham … Bowe never had a 1,000-yard season in Baton Rouge but still ranks sixth all-time in yardage with 2,403.
Noteworthy totals in Baton Rouge
- Reed: 167 catches, 3,001 yds, 17 receiving TD
- Clayton: 182 catches, 2,582 yds, 21 receiving TD
- Lafell: 175 catches, 2,517 yds, 25 receiving TD
- Doucet: 160 catches, 1,943 yds, 20 receiving TD
1. Florida (23 Total Draft Picks, Notables: Tony Lomack, Stacey Simmons, Ernie Mills, Willie Jackson, Jack Jackson, Chris Doering, Reidel Anthony, Ike Hilliard, Jacquez Green, Travis McGriff, Darrell Jackson, Travis Taylor, Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney, Taylor Jacobs, Chad Jackson, Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper) — Twelve of Florida’s 23 selections players performed under Spurrier from 1990-01 … Behind Heisman-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel, Hilliard recorded a National Championship Sugar Bowl-record 150 yards receiving and three touchdowns in 1996 … It was Anthony who led the SEC that season with 72 receptions for 1,293 yards and a single-season school record 18 touchdowns … Doering is Florida’s all-time receiving touchdowns leader with 31 over his career … Of the Gators’ draft picks during this stretch, Green led all wideouts with an average of 19.3 yards per reception … Harvin was equally impressive on the ground, rushing for 1,852 yards and 19 touchdowns … Cooper was Florida’s last draft pick at the position in 2010.
Noteworthy totals in Gainesville
- Gaffney: 138 catches, 2,375 yds, 27 receiving TD
- A. Caldwell: 185 catches, 2,349 yds, 16 receiving TD
- Anthony: 126 catches, 2,274 yds, 26 receiving TD
- Hilliard: 126 catches, 2,214 yds, 29 receiving TD
- Green: 113 catches, 2,181 yds, 23 receiving TD
- Harvin: 133 catches, 1,939 yds, 13 receiving TD