Top 25 SEC WRs of all-time: No. 5-1
Who are the top wide receivers in SEC history?
We’ve spent the last several weeks flipping through team-specific media guides, glancing over highlight film and nearly coming to blows at our home office determining this 25-member comprehensive list of the league’s best pass-catchers.
Editor’s note: The SDS staff weighed multiple factors during our SEC’s all-time wide receivers rankings process including career statistics, individual awards, importance to their respective team and the era in which they played.
5.) JULIO JONES, ALABAMA (2008-10)
The nation’s No. 1 receiver coming out of high school in 2008, Jones signed with Alabama and became a cornerstone talent on offense soon after he stepped on campus.
Despite playing in a pro-style, run-based offense during his tenure, Jones blossomed into one of college football’s premiere pass-catching options and finished second in school history in career receptions (179) and yards (2,653) and fourth in touchdown receptions (15).
His unique combination of speed, strength and athleticism made him one of the most attractive NFL Draft early entries in 2011, and the Atlanta Falcons swooped in at No. 6 overall. In four seasons thus far, Jones has already surpassed the 4,000-yard barrier with 26 touchdowns. He was the NFC’s leading wideout last season.
The subject of several debates involving SDS staff members this season, Jones fell behind Alabama wideout Amari Cooper in this list based on Cooper’s sheer numbers edge, but the battle remains undecided in some circles. Each player provides a different element to an offense, but few argue Jones has the upper-hand in athleticism.
179 catches, 2,653 yards, 15 TD
All-SEC (2008, 2010)
No. 6 overall in 2011
Jones’ personal-best at Alabama came during the 2010 season when he caught 12 passes for 221 yards at Tennessee during a 41-10 thumping of the hapless Vols. He added 10 catches for 89 yards the following game in Baton Rouge.
4.) TERRENCE EDWARDS, GEORGIA (1999-02)
Ranked No. 1 in our recent ‘Georgia’s all-time WRs‘ list, Edwards is the school’s all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns and is one of only five receivers in SEC history with more than 3,000 career yards.
In some respects, Edwards is underrated because he isn’t often mentioned in the SEC pantheon of pass-catchers who may be faster and more athletic. Edwards simply got it done as Georgia’s go-to option in the passing game four straight seasons. His career touchdown total (30) is one behind Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Florida’s Chris Doering for the league’s all-time high.
Edwards is the only player since 1950 to lead the Bulldogs in receiving throughout his career. There were no down years. He saved his best individual campaign for last — 59 catches, 1,004 yards, 11 scores — as a senior in 2002, leading the SEC Champion-Bulldogs to a 13-1 finish capped by a Sugar Bowl win over Florida State.
He held the SEC’s all-time yardage lead for a decade before Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews topped it (and several others) in 2012. Edwards is still Georgia’s career leader in 100-yard games with 10 and wasn’t done playing football after going undrafted in 2003.
In the CFL, Edwards went on to record 508 catches for 7,637 yards and 47 touchdowns before retiring in February.
204 catches, 3,093 yards, 30 TD
Jeffery’s coming out party came at home
3.) JORDAN MATTHEWS, VANDERBILT (2010-13)
Vanderbilt’s best player in school history is the SEC’s all-time receptions (262) and receiving yardage (3,759) leader, leaving his mark in Nashville during the most successful era in Commodores football history under coach James Franklin.
An essential member of consecutive nine-win teams at Vanderbilt, the first time the Commodores had accomplished that feat in 100 years, Matthews obliterated opposing secondaries despite average quarterback play during his tenure. Defenses knew he was a threat by his junior season but it didn’t matter as he led the conference in catches back-to-back years.
Matthews exploded for 112 catches, 1,477 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, the fourth-best single-season tally in SEC history.
A second-round steal by the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2014 NFL Draft, Matthews caught 67 passes for 872 yards and eight touchdowns as a standout rookie.
262 catches, 3,759 yards, 24 TD
All-American (2013); All-SEC (2012-13)
No. 42 overall (second round) in 2014
Nearing the SEC’s all-time yardage and receptions record late in his senior year, Matthews put a fitting bow on a fantastic career with 41 catches for 542 yards and two touchdowns over his final four starts (all wins) for the Commodores.
2.) AMARI COOPER, ALABAMA (2012-14)
This South Florida native rewrote all the receiving records at Alabama and had a shot at several FBS career marks had he decided to stay for his senior season next fall as the SEC’s first-ever Heisman finalist and second Biletnikoff Award winner at the position.
Cooper’s 31 total touchdowns, including a sparkling 16 last season, puts him tied for first all-time with Florida’s Chris Doering in league history. Only Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews totaled more yards during his career and Cooper ranks third on the all-time SEC receptions list.
His 1,727-yard junior campaign is the second-best single-season in SEC history behind LSU’s Josh Reed who put together a 1,740-yard in 2001 despite playing two fewer games. Cooper’s 2014 season was so dominant that he averaged 36 more yards per game and caught 47 more passes than his next closest competitors in the SEC.
He leaves Alabama as the program’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with two conference titles and a BCS National Championship under his belt. One of the most dynamic players in college football history, Cooper’s smooth play and overall value to a pro franchise should lead to a Top 10 selection in April’s NFL Draft.
228 catches, 3,463 yards, 31 TD
Biletnikoff Award (2014); Heisman Finalist (2014); Consensus All-American (2014); SEC Off. POTY (2014); Freshman All-American (2012)
Waiting to be drafted in 2015
Cooper racked up 12 games with 100 or more yards receiving, doing so seven times as a junior including a personal-best four straight contests to open the season. His career-best 224-yard, three-touchdown outing in the Iron Bowl against Auburn was a work of art.
1.) JOSH REED, LSU (1999-01)
Thank goodness Nick Saban moved this playmaking supernova to full-time wide receiver in 2000 after wasting a year primarily in the backfield as a redshirt freshman.
His production didn’t disappoint.
After putting together an impressive 65-catch, 1,127-yard season as a third-year sophomore that was among college football’s national leaders, Reed broke 17 LSU and SEC single-season receiving records the following year including most yards (1,740) in a campaign with a seismic 12-game stretch.
At the time, Reed was the SEC’s first Biletnikoff winner, the first to surpass 3,000 career receiving yards and was the SEC’s single-game receptions (19, still stands) and yardage (293, broken by Cobi Hamilton) leader. He’s one of only five receivers in SEC history to post multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
167 catches, 3,001 yards, 17 TD
All-American (2001); Biletnikoff Award (2001); All-SEC (2000-01)
No. 36 overall (second round) in 2002
A pair of sizable performances pushed Reed to a record-setting season in 2001. Against Alabama, Reed set two SEC records with 19 receptions for 293 yards, one of his program-record 18 100-yard games in his career. He then posted a Sugar Bowl record 14 catches for 239 yards in a win over Illinois.