Here are 10 wide receivers to watch this upcoming college football season:
Davante Adams, Fresno State
The Buzz: Adams had a record-setting freshman season for the Bulldogs. He led the team in catches (102), receiving yards (1,312) and receiving touchdowns (14), earning him the Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors. His performance also set records in the MWC and at Fresno State as well. Three times last season, he eclipsed double digits in catches and six times he had 100-yard receiving games including the Hawaii Bowl, where he had 144 yards on 13 catches and a touchdown.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
The Buzz: It took a little bit of time, but the Miami Northwestern product became an impact player for the Crimson Tide in 2012. Cooper led the team in catches (59), receiving yards (1,000) and touchdowns (11) and had five games of more than 100-yards receiving, despite only cracking the starting lineup in the second half of the season. His breakout performance was against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game when he had six receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Stefon Diggs, Maryland
The Buzz: To show you how important Stefon Diggs is to Maryland’s success, head coach Randy Edsall had the 6-foot-1, 185-pound speedster on the field as much as possible – throwing, running, catching and returning kicks – during the Terrapins’ 4-8 season. It’s hard to blame Edsall when you consider he went through a handful of quarterbacks in 2012. Despite it all, the freshman led the team in receptions (54), receiving yards (848) and receiving touchdowns (6) while leading the team in punt and kickoff returns.
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Buzz: Mike Evans became one of Johnny Manziel’s go-to guys last season, leading the team in catches (82) and receiving yards (1,105) while helping the Aggies to one of the best seasons since 1998. With his size – 6-foot-5, 218-pounds – Evans quickly lent himself as complimentary piece with Ryan Swope in the receiving corps. The pair combined for more than 150 catches and more than 2,000 yards receiving along with 13 total touchdowns. Swope’s departure to the NFL means Manziel will once again lean on Evans as a main target in the offense.
Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
The Buzz: The junior wide receiver had a career-season for the Wolverines in 2012 with highs in catches (49), yards (829) and touchdowns (4). He crossed the 100-yard receiving threshold only twice during the regular season, but his 145 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan’s 33-28 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl give fans of the Maize and Blue hope going into 2013. With Roy Roundtree gone, Gallon and Drew Dileo will be key targets for quarterback Devin Gardner.
Austin Hill, Arizona
The Buzz: At 6-foot-3, 211-pounds, Hill became of the favorite options in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense. Primarily used in the slot, Hill had 81 catches for 1,364 yards and tied a single-season school record with 11 touchdowns to lead all Wildcats receivers. He was second in the Pac-12 (behind USC’s Marqise Lee) in total receiving yards and yards per game. Hill finished the season with five games of more than 100 yards and four games with two or more touchdowns.
Marqise Lee, USC
The Buzz: Lee and teammate Robert Woods were one of the best receiving tandems in college football over the past two seasons. The pair combined for more than 2,500 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, but it was Lee who really stepped to the forefront as a dual-threat option for the Trojans. The sophomore was second in the country in receiving yards per game (132.4) and thanks to a Pac-12 best 856 yards on kickoff returns, led the league in total offense.
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: It was a record-setting year for Matthews who burst onto the national scene with 94 catches for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. He was second in the Southeastern Conference in receptions per game (7.23) and receiving yards per game (101.8) while setting school marks for most yards in a single season and second-most receptions in a single season. He finished the season with seven games of 100-yards or more and cracked the double-digit mark in catches twice as well.
Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
The Buzz: A first-team All-Big 12 selection, Stewart led the Cowboys in catches (101), receiving yards (1,210), receiving touchdowns (7) and 100-yard receiving games (5). His performance in 2012 trails only Justin Blackmon (1,782) and Dez Bryant (1,480) as the best sophomore performance by an Oklahoma State receiver. In his team’s 58-14 win over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Stewart ran, a 21-yard run from scrimmage, completed a 15-yard pass, caught five passes for 56 yards and set up a touchdown with a 64-yard punt return.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The Buzz: After a phenomenal freshman season in 2011, Watkins suffered a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012. Injuries and off the field issues limited him to just 10 games. He finished with 57 catches for 708 yards and three touchdowns and was third on the team in total offense (1,073 yards). With DeAndre Hopkins headed to the NFL, Watkins becomes the top option for quarterback Tajh Boyd in what is expected to be another explosive offensive season for the Tigers.
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