Top 25 College Football Wide Receivers of 2019

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Joe Broback

Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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Once you really start diving into these position rankings, you begin to get excited about the upcoming season. Even though it’s far away, you can’t help but begin to get anxious for football to return. Part 3 of the 2019 Position Rankings shares a common theme: speed. Many of these wide receivers have elite speed, and defenses better know where they are on the field. Two of the three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award (Top WR) return, but they find the top of this group crowded. Jerry Jeudy, the winner of that award, also must compete within his own position group for catches. Three of Alabama’s wide receivers find their way into the Top 25 and one just missed. Let’s take a look at who the best pass catchers in college football are coming into 2019.

OTHER POSITIONS: QB, RB, TE, C, G, OT, DE, DT, LB, CB, S

25. Cedric Byrd, Hawaii

2018 Stats: Caught 79 passes for 970 yards (12.3 ypc) and nine touchdowns.

John Ursua left for the NFL early, leaving Cole McDonald’s go-to receiver position open. In steps Byrd who nearly eclipsed 1,00 yards last year. He does well creating separation from his defenders with his breaks on routes, and Hawaii’s passing attack should be lethal once again.

24. Shi Smith, South Carolina

2018 Stats: Caught 45 passes for 673 yards (15.0 ypc) and four touchdowns.

You could also put his teammate Bryan Edwards in this slot as well, but I think Smith is a better overall receiver. Smith’s speed creates coverage issues in man and zone, and his quickness helps him gets into open space.

23. T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech

2018 Stats: Caught 54 passes for 687 yards (12.7 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

With Antoine Wesley gone, Texas Tech needs a new weapon for their passing attack. New head coach Matt Wells knows he’ll have a big, athletic target in Vasher.

22. James Proche, SMU

2018 Stats: Caught 93 passes for 1,199 yards (12.9 ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

Proche stepped up when Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn left, SMU found themselves in need of weapons at receiver. Luckily, Proche helped ease the transition, and it now one of the best receivers in the AAC.

21. Damonte Coxie, Memphis

2018 Stats: Caught 72 passes for 1,174 yards (16.3 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

Another AAC receiver that needed to fill big shoes. Anthony Miller was one of the best wide receivers in Memphis football history. Coxie flashed potential greatness in his limited reps two years ago, and that potential turned into production last year. Extremely athletic receiver that can snatch anything.

20. Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt

2018 Stats: Caught 87 passes for 916 yards (10.5 ypc) and nine touchdowns. Rushed 14 times for 75 yards (5.4 ypc) and one touchdown.

Hmmm, a reliable Vanderbilt receiver that catches nearly everything. Where have we heard that before? Jordan Matthews defined reliable years ago, but Vanderbilt’s passing attack struggled when he went pro. Now, Lipscomb provides them with a weapon.

19. Nico Collins, Michigan

2018 Stats: Caught 38 passes for 632 yards (16.6 ypc) and six touchdowns.

Michigan’s air attack might be the most inconsistent in the country, but that’s changing. Collins gives the Wolverines a big body who can win any jump ball. At 6’4″, 218 pounds, he’s a physical receiver with strong hands. He’s not going to run past defenders consistently, but he’ll always have a chance to make the catch.

18. Marquez Stevenson, Houston

2018 Stats: Caught 75 passes for 1,019 yards (13.6 ypc) and nine touchdowns. Rushed 14 times for 126 yards (9.0 ypc) and two touchdowns.

An overlooked receiver with big time potential. Stevenson’s got it all. Good hands, speed, agility, balance, and toughness are all a part of his game. Dana Holgorsen will love having the luxury of having Stevenson in his offense, and the Cougars will torch secondaries again in 2019.

17. Denzel Mims, Baylor

2018 Stats: Caught 55 passes for 794 yards (14.4 ypc) and eight touchdowns.

Saw a dip in his production, but his skills are still evident on tape. Now that Jalen Hurd is gone, Mims moves back to the top receiver, and he has two years of experience with starting quarterback, Charlie Brewer.

16. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC

2018 Stats: Caught 60 passes for 750 yards (12.5 ypc) and three touchdowns.

The St. Brown-J.T. Daniels hype died quickly last year, but that’s not a problem. Both still showed great potential, and more so with St. Brown. He’s a deep threat for the Trojans, and this could be the year that he takes off.

15. JD Spielman, Nebraska

2018 Stats: Caught 66 passes for 818 yards (12.4 ypc) and eight touchowns.

A dynamic player like Spielman does well in a Scott Frost offense. There’s plenty of attention on his quarterback, but that also means that he must produce. Expect his touches to increase as a receiver and also as a runner this year.

14. Justin Jefferson, LSU

2018 Stats: Caught 54 passes for 875 yards (16.2 ypc) and six touchdowns.

Is Jefferson the next great LSU receiver? It will be tough for him to beat Odell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry, but he’s already proven he can be great. LSU’s offense will pass more in 2019, and Joe Burrow’s top target makes life tough for his matchup.

13. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

2018 Stats: Caught 45 passes for 848 yards (18.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

Waddle could be one of the top wide receivers on any team, but he’s not on his own squad. However, don’t assume he can’t beat out the two guys ahead of him. Explosive and fast don’t seem to do his game justice. Once he gets the ball in his hands, defenses have to get hands on him or he’s gone. Good luck catching him in the open field. Not many can.

12. Aaron Fuller, Washington

2018 Stats: Caught 58 passes for 874 yards (15.1 ypc) and for touchdowns.

Fuller find himself working with a new quarterback, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Acrobatic catches are one of his strengths, and the Huskies offense is in good hands as long as Fuller gets the ball.

11. Jalen Reagor, TCU

2018 Stats: Caught 72 passes for 1,061 yards (14.7 ypc) and nine touchdowns. Rushed 13 times for 170 yards (13.1 ypc) and two touchdowns.

After showing what he could do in 2017, Reagor exploded in 2018. Even with limitations at the quarterback position, he still managed to eclipse 1,000 yards. Reagor focuses on the details of being a receiver, and that shows in his mechanics. Big 12 defenses know he’s the biggest threat on the Horned Frogs offense, but most of the time they can’t do anything about it.

10. Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

2018 Stats: Caught 78 passes for 1,169 yards (15.0 ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

Five years ago, wide receivers from Minnesota being in the Top 10 nationally would be laughable. However, times have changed, but not because of the coaching staff. P.J. Fleck and his staff have certainly helped Johnson, but the senior was already on a path to greatness. Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, they’ll have a star downfield.

9. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

2018 Stats: Caught 46 passes for 741 yards (16.1 ypc) and 11 touchdowns.

Another one of Alabama wide receivers with incredible speed. Ruggs III also can jump out of the gym with his vertical. Everyone knows that Jerry Jeudy will garner most of the attention, but that leaves space for Ruggs III to run.

8. Collin Johnson, Texas

2018 Stats: Caught 68 passes for 985 yards (14.5 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

One more year for the Longhorns deep threat, but will that result in a 1,000 yard season? In Johnson’s tenure in Austin, he’s yet to do so. His speed isn’t great, and separation typically won’t happen against man coverage. However, at 6’6″ and 220 pounds, he’s going to win any jump ball. Sam Ehlinger just needs to get the ball close to Johnson, and his receiver’s athletic enough to catch it.

7. Tee Higgins, Clemson

2018 Stats: Caught 59 passes for 936 yards (15.9 ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

Higgins gets overshadowed on his own team thanks to another star receiver, but the ACC knows he’s dangerous. Higgins makes his quarterback look good with an outstanding catch radius. His awareness of where he is on the field helps him makes tough catches and extra yards. He makes things look easy because he puts in the work before Saturday, and the results speak for themselves.

6. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State

2018 Stats: Caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards (17.3 ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

A Biletnikoff Award finalist that many thought was snubbed for the award, Wallace balls in the Big 12. Wallace continues the trend of elite Oklahoma State receivers, but must work with a new quarterback this year.

5. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

2018 Stats: Caught 65 passes for 1,158 yards (17.8 ypc) and 11 touchdowns.

Lamb gets a lot of love, but still got overshadowed by Marquise Brown. Now, Lamb is the man for the Sooners, and fans expect a big year. He’s worked with two consecutive Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, and now gets Alabama-transfer Jalen Hurts. There won’t be a decrease in his production, that’s for sure.

4. Justyn Ross, Clemson

2018 Stats: Caught 46 passes for 1,000 yards (21.7 ypc) and nine touchdowns.

Just like his quarterback, Ross dominated Alabama on the biggest stage. Like his partner Tee Higgins, Ross must work hard for catches. Whoever guards him gets a matchup nightmare. Great size, good route runner, speed, acceleration, athletic, you name it. Ross has it, and he’s only a sophomore. Clemson wide receivers are a problem. Yikes.

3. Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

2018 Stats: Caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards (11.8 ypc) and six touchdowns. Rushed 17 times for 115 yards (6.8 ypc) and five touchdowns.

Colorado found almost any way to get the ball in his hands. They just need him to stay healthy. Shenault’s a big body wide receiver that runs like a running back with the ball in his hands. The Buffaloes even lined him up in the Wildcat. He makes life for Steven Montez easier, and both are hoping this year results in a bowl game.

2. Rondale Moore, Purdue

2018 Stats: Caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards (11.0 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Rushed 21 times for 213 yards (10.1 ypc) and two touchdowns.

Moore made headlines committing to Purdue, but he didn’t stop there. Whether on the field or in the weight room, Moore made sure that college football knew his name. As a freshman. Purdue found so many ways to get the ball in his hands, and that trend continues in 2019.

1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

2018 Stats: Caught 68 passes for 1,315 yards (19.3 ypc) and 14 touchdowns.

Jeudy follows an elite lineage of wide receivers, but he might be the best of them all. A normal receiver would break something trying to replicate his explosiveness, and not many can match his speed. With Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle and Jerry Jeudy, Alabama’s going to dominate the SEC again.

Others to Watch

DeVonta Smith, Alabama: Mr. Clutch. Smith’s made a number of big catches at vital times (see: game winner against Georgia for 2017 National Championship).

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: With the attention on Tyler Johnson, Bateman could break out. Tremendous potential as a freshman, and decided to make his own path in Minnesota after receiving an offer from his home state of Georgia.

Juwan Johnson, Oregon: Transfer from Penn State. Johnson gives Justin Herbert a big target in 2019.

K.J. Osborn, Miami: Transfer from Buffalo. Osborn cashed in on the Bulls’ great 2018 season and now gets to prove himself at the Power 5 level.

Bryan Edwards, South Carolina: Edwards has arguably the strongest hands in all of college football. He’s great at reaching balls that are considered overthrown.

Rico Bussey, North Texas: The Mean Green passing attack again runs through Bussey, who caught 68 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.

Tamorrion Terry, Florida State: Everyone on the Seminoles offense should be better this year, and Terry could be the best on the team.

Keith Corbin, Houston: Super athletic receiver that makes some incredible catches. Can he improve after last year? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan: Wolverines fans are still waiting for him to break out, and this year could be the year he does it.

Marquez Callaway, Tennessee: With all of the talent in the SEC last year, Callaway didn’t get talked about much. Many think Tennessee will be better this year, and that improvement could be due to his production.

Van Jefferson, Florida: Transfer from Ole Miss. If Feleipe Franks continues to improve his consistency, Jefferson will break out.

Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M: Rogers stats aren’t elite (336 yards, 5 touchdowns), but his play late in games helped the Aggies win a few.

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