Top 5 AAC Wide Receivers in 2013
With the rise of high-octane offense running widespread throughout the NCAA football landscape, players are putting up numbers that once seemed nothing more than a fantasy. Quarterbacks are throwing the ball more than 50 times a game and are eclipsing the 4,000-yard mark with regularity.
However, none of their numbers would be possible without a talented group of wide receivers to chuck the ball to. Like quarterbacks, wide receivers in the college game are putting up numbers that were once unfathomable. The increased output in offenses has equaled much bigger roles for guys catching balls. Wide receivers today are stronger, faster, bigger and more athletic than ever. Memphis Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner constantly says that every team has good players and that the gap has closed tremendously. The same can be said for college football, where it seems every team in the FBS has talented and athletic players.
In its first season, the AAC will have plenty of playmakers to keep an eye on, many of which play the wide receiver position. As the 2013 season inches closer, we rank the top five players at each position. After starting off with the top five quarterbacks two weeks ago, we listed the top five running backs last week. This week, we take a look at the top five wide receivers in the AAC based on each player's performance last season and expectations heading into this year.
5. Damian Copeland
The Louisville Cardinals have some of the best offense in the NCAA with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the way. But, he has great weapons at his disposal, including senior veteran Damian Copeland. Copeland is a speedster and led the Cardinals with 50 receptions in 2012. He also ranked second on the team with 628 yards and had two touchdowns.
As a senior, Copeland has a lot of experience and is one of Bridgewater's favorite targets. He will be a prime target and another 50-catch season could be in store.
4. Breshad Perriman
The Central Florida Knights are coming off a great final season in C-USA and are looking to make some noise this year in the inaugural season of the AAC. Lucky for quarterback Blake Bortles, he has a slew of receivers to throw to. The player that is poised for the biggest jump in production of any receiver on the team is budding sophomore Breshad Perriman. As a true freshman last year, Perriman caught 26 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns.
He was eased into the offense, but showed signs of big things to come. He has big-play ability and breakaway speed, shown by his 14.9 yards per catch, good for second on the team. With a year of experience and time to get acquainted with Bortles, Perriman could be the leading receiver for the Knights and one of the best in the AAC.
3. Deontay Greenberry
Deontay Greenberry was one of the biggest surprises on National Signing Day in 2012 when the longtime Notre Dame commit and five-star receiver flipped to the Houston Cougars on the last second. Many criticized him for going to a team losing Case Keenum and their head coach Kevin Sumlin, but Greenberry silenced the naysayers with a solid freshman campaign in which he hauled in 47 balls for 569 yards and three trips to the end zone.
Greenberry has one of the top quarterbacks in the AAC in David Piland. With last year's leading receiver Dewayne Peace gone, the table is set for Greenberry to have a big 2013.
2. Brandon Coleman
Consistency is a big part for any player in any sport, and Rutgers Scarlet Knights junior receiver Brandon Coleman has been the model of that over his first two seasons. He followed a remarkable freshman campaign, in which he averaged an unprecedented 32.5 yards per catch, with 43 receptions, 718 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012. No one expected him to average 32.5 ypc again, but Coleman did post a very nice number at 16.7.
Like the other receivers on this list, Coleman has a very capable quarterback in Gary Nova. But, it in no way diminishes the fact that he is one of the best receivers in the league. There are big expectations for Coleman in 2013, so 1,000 yards and 10-plus touchdowns again should be expected.
1. DeVante Parker
Through the first two top-five power rankings of the best players in the AAC at each position the Louisville Cardinals have had the number-one ranked player, so why expect anything different at wide receiver? DeVante Parker returns for his junior season after posting 744 yards on 40 catches and 10 scores. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he has Copeland lining up on the outside as well.
At 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, Parker has the size and speed to attract NFL scouts. His 18.6 ypc are evidence to his big-play ability and he has a knack for finding the end zone. Parker has All-American Teddy Bridgewater throwing to him, so defensive backs and defenses will have trouble containing him. He could be primed for a record-breaking season if everything goes well.