Ole Miss signed the nation’s top wide receiver this winter in Laquon Treadwell and expectations are he will step into the Rebels lineup and combine with Donte Moncrief to form one of the best wide receiver tandems in the SEC. However, is that a little too optimistic for a true freshman—albeit a supremely talented one—to fulfill those lofty expectations?
I went back and looked at the top receiver according to ESPN for each of the past five recruiting classes and the freshman statistics proved to be a mixed bag. Clearly a number of factors come into play including quarterback play, injuries, offensive philosophy and opportunity.
Dorial Green-Beckham went to Missouri as the top recruit in 2012 and finished with 28 catches for 295 yards and five touchdowns. At first glance you would have to say those numbers didn’t live up to the hype that preceded his arrival on campus.
George Farmer was the top receiver in 2011 and chose USC where he had four catches for 42 yards as a freshman. He was used even less as a sophomore and has a total of five career catches at USC having been used mostly on special teams.
Robert Woods had a successful first season at USC and finished with 65 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns clearly living up to his ranking coming out of high school. Woods is expected to be one of the first few wide receivers taken in April’s NFL draft.
Rueben Randle had a quiet first season at LSU accumulating only 11 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. He developed as a junior and became a second round pick in the NFL draft last year.
Julio Jones went to Alabama as the highest ranked player in his class and had 58 catches for 924 yards and four touchdowns. He became one of the sport’s best receivers during his career with the Crimson Tide and currently is one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Of the five, two would be considered non-factors at best as freshmen, one was a solid contributor and two lived up to and likely exceeded expectations.
I think Treadwell can develop into a player like Woods or Jones during his career at Ole Miss, but matching their freshman totals may be tough because of Moncrief, Vince Sanders and Ja-Mes Logan ahead of him on the depth chart. That trio combined for 148 receptions, 1,973 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Don’t get me wrong, Treadwell is an incredible talent and I saw him in person multiple times at Crete-Monee high school where he put up 213 catches for 2,626 and 45 touchdowns during his prep career. He’ll have his work cut out for him as a freshman, but knowing the type of player he is, he will compete in practice this summer and fall and fight for playing time.
I envision Treadwell putting up around 40 catches for 400 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers may not excite diehard Rebels fans, but that’s a big contribution as a freshman. He won’t have to carry the offense with the talent surrounding him.
That’s something that certainly should excite Treadwell and Rebel Nation heading into their upcoming 2013 season.