Football Ranking the Big 12's Best WR groups

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Nov 23, 2010
After looking at the best of the Big 12 at the QB position, we turn our attention to the wide receivers. The Big 12 is no stranger to standout receivers and has produced some of the NFL’s biggest stars today. Star receivers such as Dez Bryant (OSU), Jordy Nelson (KSU) and Wes Welker (TTU) all came from the dynamic offenses that call the Big 12 home. You can even look at Jeremy Maclin (Mizzou) and Mike Evans (TAMU), both of whom played in the Big 12 during their college careers even though their alma maters have migrated due to realignment. Going further, by looking at the 2016 NFL draft you will find three of the top five receivers drafted came from Big 12 teams. So where do the teams stack up this year? Which team is going to give Big 12 defensive coordinators the most trouble this season? Here's where each team stands and what to watch for this season.

1. Oklahoma State- When it comes to the WR position, OSU is king of the hill. Headlined by emerging star James Washington who was a 2nd team All-Big 12 selection last year and is a preseason 1st team All-Big 12 pick this year, the Cowboys boast arguably the deepest WR group in the Big 12. The big 1-2 punch for the Cowboys will be Washington and Marcell Ateman, with Washington eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark and 10 touchdowns and Ateman posting over 700 yards of his own last season. However, with Ateman out for the first few weeks of the season the Cowboys will turn to their deep receiving corps earlier than expected for meaningful playing time. While Jhajaun Seales and Austin Hayes will bring a veteran presence and figure to make an impact, this will prove to be a great opportunity for the young guys in the group as well. Keep an eye out for two true freshmen. Dillon Stoner in particular has continually impressed in camp and has shown the coaches that he can’t be left on the sidelines and under-the-radar walk-on Obi Obialo, who has potentially earned himself some playing time thanks to his performance through the fall camp.

2. Texas Tech- TTU was as dynamic on offense last year as anyone in the Big 12, and a large part of that was thanks to a group of seniors who will leave big shoes to fill. Included in that group of seniors was wide receiver Jakeem Grant, who was a 6th round pick and now plays for the Miami Dolphins. They have left the TTU offense far from barren of playmakers however. The 2nd leading receiver for the Red Raiders last year, Devin Lauderdale, is coming back after posting 43 catches for 639 yards last year to go along with 4 touchdowns. Behind him will be Sophomore Ian Sadler, who had nearly 600 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns his freshman year. Keep an eye out for 2016 4 star recruit T.J. Vasher who is physically imposing at 6’5”. If he can find his way onto the field as a true freshman, he will give cornerbacks fits with his height.

3. Texas Christian- While experience might not be TCU’s strength this year, there is definitely no lack of talent. The young receiving corps will be led by the Big 12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year last year in KaVontae Turpin. Turpin logged 46 catches for 649 yards and 20 rushes for 116 yards in his freshman season. With Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee off to the NFL, Turpin will be slotted to take the lead role in the Horned Frog offense. As noted, because there is not a lot of experience behind him, TCU added two JUCO top 50 WR recruits in Ryan Parker and Taj Williams to inject some experience into the WR corps. What to watch for with TCU will be Taj Williams and how quickly he adjusts to the Big 12. Williams turned down some big offers in OU, Alabama and Florida State to come to Fort Worth.

4. Baylor- For a while there it looked like everyone on the Baylor roster was about to jump ship, including K.D. Cannon who posted his intent to transfer on Snapchat shortly after the scandal broke in Waco. However, it appears that Cannon is coming back which is music to Jim Grobe’s ears as Cannon was electrifying last season. While his production was down from his freshman year, in large part due to Corey Coleman exploding for 1,363 yards last year, he still posted 868 yards of his own on 50 catches with 6 touchdowns. With Coleman gone to the NFL, Cannon will become the number one target in the Baylor offense. Behind Cannon, a bevy of youth makes up the rest of the receiving corps. Lynx Hawthorne and Chris Platt both return, and Baylor will bring in Blake Lynch, a 4 star recruit who used last season as a redshirt season. If there’s one thing to watch in Baylor’s first few matchups before their game with OSU, it’s how the receivers outside of Cannon step up. The talent is there, but the lack of production does leave a question mark.

5. West Virginia- In what could be a make-or-break season for Coach Holgorsen, the WVU offense will bring back three of its top four receivers from last year’s team. Included in that group is their number one receiver Shelton Gibson, who posted an incredible 24 yards per reception, tallying 887 yards on 38 catches with 9 touchdowns. Daikiel Shorts and sophomore Jovone Durante will play alongside of Gibson and will help to spread the field as Holgorsen will undoubtedly want to do. Shorts and Durante were no slouches last year either as they combined for 69 catches for 906 yards and 10 touchdowns. What will be interesting to watch is how these three receivers continue to develop after good seasons last year and how that can help effect the consistency of the notoriously inconsistent QB Skyler Howard.

6. Oklahoma- OU lost a lot to graduation this past season, including Sterling Shephard. Shephard left Norman with his fingerprints all over the record books. He left as OU’s #2 all-time in both career catches and yards and #3 in career touchdowns. Durron Neal, who played alongside of Shephard as the #2 man before the arrival of Dede Westbrook, also graduated making two of the Sooners top three receivers missing from this year’s roster. Fortunately for the Sooners, senior transfer Dede Westbrook looks ready to step into the spotlight as the go-to receiver for Baker Mayfield and the Sooner offense. Westbrook logged 46 catches for 743 yards and figures only to improve on those numbers as he and Mayfield have had another offseason to practice together. Behind Westbrook is Mark Andrews who plays a hybrid WR-TE position. At 6’5” 250 pounds, Andrews has the size of a tight end yet he will also line up as a receiver and is capable of taking the top off of defenses. He will be the one to watch as the season progresses as the Sooners think he can be the X-factor in the offense.

7. Iowa State- Iowa native Allen Lazard has lived up to expectations. As a 4 star recruit and the 11th ranked WR in the nation, Lazard had offers from top programs such as Notre Dame and Oregon, yet he chose to stay home and play for the Cyclones. He hasn’t disappointed Cyclone fans either. His 56 catches and 808 yards as a sophomore may seem good-not-great, but remember what kind of offense he plays in and for what team. Iowa State won just 3 games last year, yet Lazard was dominant in an otherwise run-oriented offense. However, we must look at more than just one guy. Because the Cyclones did lose an experienced WR in Jauan Wiley this offseason who surprisingly transferred to N. Illinois, they lack some experience behind Lazard. Dondre Daley, who had 244 yards on 24 catches, is the next highest producing Cyclone receiver. What to watch for in the Cyclone receiving corps, outside of Lazard of course, will be 2015 3 star recruit Denver Johnson, an Oklahoma City native coming off a redshirt year last season.

8. Texas- the Eyes of Texas are upon their receiving corps, and they do not like what they see. What’s not debatable is the Texas struggled to move the ball through the air last season. What is debatable is how much of that was poor QB play and how much of that was the lack of high end talent at the WR position. The lone bright spot for the Longhorns returning at WR is John Burt, who as a true freshman proved he could be a deep threat for the UT offense while averaging 16.3 yards per reception. His ability to do that consistently is still a question mark as he only recorded 28 catches. Armanti Foreman is the only other returning receiver to log double digit catches last season, so the Longhorns may look to incoming freshmen to buoy the group, 4 star receivers Devin Durvernay and 6’6” Chris Collins.

9. Kansas- Remarkably, the Jayhawks might be just fine after losing playmaker Tre Parmalee as they return quite a bit of experience at the WR position. Outside of Parmalee, the Jayhawks were led by three freshmen. The first of the trio is Steven Sims Jr. who recorded 349 yards on 30 catches and 2 touchdowns. The second is Tyler Patrick who also logged 30 catches of his own. The last of the trio is Jeremiah Booker, who snagged 23 catches for 228 yards after missing the first 4 games of the season. Look for how these three develop over the season as Kansas looks to log their first win since 2014.

10. Kansas State- The Wildcats will be led by senior Deante Burton and WR/QB Kody Cook. Burton was the only Wildcat to eclipse the 500 yard mark last season and 4 of those were for touchdowns. Kody Cook, assuming he loses out in the QB battle, will slide back into his original role as WR. Those two have the talent to be playmakers for Snyder’s team, and OSU fans might remember those two from the Wildcat’s visit to Stillwater last season when Cook connected with Burton for a 17 yard touchdown in what was a game that was decided by a Ben Grogan field goal. Cook had 27 catches for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns before injuries at the QB position required that he make the move from WR to QB. Outside of those two, Sophomore Dominique Heath will be looking to improve upon his freshman campaign when he accounted for 313 yards on 28 catches and 3 touchdowns. Keep an eye on the QB battle in Manhattan going forward because if Cook wins the job that outcome will affect the depth of the Wildcat receiving group.
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