Top 5 Wide Receivers In The ACC For 2013
Top 5 2013 ACC Wide Receivers
Heading into the 2013 season, the ACC has a ton of potential game-breaking wide receivers returning. That doesn’t bode well for defensive coordinators who must find ways to defend the variety of offenses within the league.
Perhaps the best offense is that of the Clemson Tigers, led by offensive guru Chad Morris. Their 2013 season received a boost when All-ACC quarterback Tahj Boyd decided to forgo a shot at the NFL to return to Death Valley for his senior year. He lost his favorite target from last year, first-round pick Deandre Hopkins, but has one of the best playmakers in the country, junior Sammy Watkins, returning this season.
Florida State had a more balanced attack in 2012, but could be explosive on the outside this coming season. There will be a new quarterback at the helm, as E.J. Manuel graduated. Freshman sensation Jameis Winston will likely be the starter and will have a full complement of outstanding receivers to throw to.
Other veteran quarterbacks return around the conference and bring valuable experience leading an offense. Stephen Morris will once again be behind center for a Miami Hurricanes offense that expects to be explosive in 2013. The North Carolina Tar Heels bring back Bryn Renner, a classic pocket-passer who threw for 28 touchdowns last season. And Logan Thomas, thought by many to be the best QB heading into the 2012 season, will return to lead the Virginia Tech Hokies one final time.
So here’s a look at the top targets those quarterbacks, and others, will have to throw to in the ACC in 2013.
5.) Alex Amidon, Boston College
Alex Amidon was a first-team All-ACC selection as a junior in 2012. He set Boston College single-season records for receptions and yards with 78 and 1,215, respectively. He surpassed 100 yards receiving in six of the team's twelve games, including a 193-yard performance against the Clemson Tigers.
At 5’11” 186 pounds, Amidon has the ideal size for playing the slot at the collegiate level. In fact, he operates so well underneath, he reminds some Boston College fans of another local #83, former New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.
Amidon will once again be working with quarterback Chase Rettig, and he could very well add to the already impressive stats he put up in 2012.
4.) Jamison Crowder, Duke
Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder isn’t a household name like others on this list. However, he was extremely productive in his sophomore season for the Blue Devils, making him a name to remember for 2013. Crowder had 76 catches for 1,074 yards and 8 touchdowns, including a 99-yarder against the Miami Hurricanes.
In that same game, he ended up with 8 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns to close out the ACC regular season in style. The only question for Crowder in 2013 is who will be throwing him the ball. Senior Sean Renfree has moved on to the next level, taking with him three years of starting experience.
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is a creative offensive mind and will find a way to get the ball into Crowder’s hands, regardless of who is taking the snaps. He shouldn’t miss a beat in 2013.
3.) Rashad Greene, Florida State
When healthy, Rashad Greene has been an outstanding weapon for Florida State in his first two seasons. In his freshman year, he scored seven touchdowns, including a spectacular catch-and-run in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners. However, his freshman season was mired with injuries, preventing him from finishing a potentially record breaking season.
In his sophomore season, Greene led the Seminoles in catches, yards, and touchdowns, but did not break out in the way many expected. This year, with freshman Jameis Winston likely starting at quarterback, Greene will be called upon to provide a reliable option in the passing game. He’s shown flashes of being an explosive player who can score from anywhere on the field, but also had games where he went unnoticed.
If the Noles want to contend for the ACC crown again, they’ll need a monster year out of the experienced Greene.
2.) Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Sammy Watkins was unquestionably the top returning receiver in the ACC at this point last year. In his freshman campaign, he was perhaps the best player in the league. He racked up 2,288 all-purpose yards and found the end zone 13 times. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris used Watkins in a variety of ways and forced teams to account for him on every play.
His sophomore season simply didn’t materialize in the same fashion. It started on the wrong foot when Watkins was suspended for the first two games, and missed another with an stomach virus. It seemed like he was playing catch up for the rest of the season. His numbers were solid, but not as spectacular as they were in 2012. He had 708 receiving yards, but only found the end zone three times. Deandre Hopkins, his counterpart on the other side of the formation, was the more explosive playmaker for the Tigers.
The 6’1” 205 pound wideout will once again have All-ACC quarterback Tahj Boyd throwing to him this season, making them one of the most dangerous combinations in the country. But the question remains, which Watkins will show up? The standout from 2012, or the disappointment from 2013?
1.) Stefon Diggs, Maryland
The best receiver in the conference is Stefon Diggs, who proved to be a dynamic playmaker for the offensively challenged Terrapins in 2012(they were last in the country in total offense). As a freshman, he amassed an impressive 1,896 all-purpose yards, second most in school history. It would likely have been considerably more if not for a slew of injuries that forced the Terrapins to convert a linebacker to quarterback at one point.
At 6’1” 194 pounds, Diggs showed he could be both a deep threat and possession receiver in the Maryland offense. He is a great open-field runner, which he not only displayed on offense, but also as a kick returner. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last year, including one for 103 yards against Virginia.
If Maryland is able to find a reliable quarterback, Diggs could put up tremendous numbers in his second season in the ACC. If the Maryland spring game was any indicator, he might be unstoppable. In what was an otherwise lackluster spring scrimmage, Diggs made eight grabs for 151 yards and a touchdown.
Expect to see similar results for Diggs once the season gets underway.