2013 Preseason Power Rankings: Top 10 Pac 12 Wide Receivers
2013 Preseason Power Rankings: Top 10 Wide Receivers
The Pac 12 is filled with high-powered offenses that are ready to put up points in bunches. Many of them rely on the passing game and need dynamic playmakers on the outside at wide receiver. The conference is filled with exactly those kinds of playmakers which make the Pac 12 one of the more exciting offensive displays to witness on Saturdays in the fall.
This season, the conference may be as stacked with talent as it ever has been. The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner returns to defend his title as the nation’s best wide receiver and he’ll be joined by plenty of elite pass catchers trying to catch him. There are speedsters and guys who just go up and get it that will be making more than their fair share of spectacular plays this season. Passing games will have plenty of methods for attacking defenses in 2013.
If not for the injury to Austin Hill, this wide receiver group might have rivaled some of the best in the history of the Pac 12. Even despite that, it has the opportunity to be a very special group in the Pac 12’s history books. When all is said and done, they just might be the most talented group of receivers in all of college football.
But which of them are the best in the Pac 12? Elite talent still stacks up in a pecking order, so without further ado, here are the top 10 wide receivers in the Pac 12 heading into the 2013 season.
10. Ty Montgomery, Stanford Cardinal
The Stanford Cardinal won the Pac 12 title in 2012 thanks to a physical running game and opportunistic passing game that utilized tight ends as well as anyone in the country. But Stanford lost its leading rusher and both its pass-catchers at tight end, so it will have to look elsewhere for production in the passing game. Ty Montgomery is the team’s leading returning pass catcher and will have to step up as a leader in a major way. He hauled in just 26 passes for 213 yards as a sophomore in 11 games. His experience makes him the best bet to lead the Cardinal in 2013 and he should see plenty more opportunities.
9. Nelson Agholor, USC Trojans
While the USC Trojans suffered a disappointing 2012 campaign, they may have stumbled across their next great deep threat at receiver. Nelson Agholor played sparingly, but he put on a fantastic show when given the opportunity. He finished with a team-high 17.89 yards per catch during his freshman season as he hauled in 19 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns. With Robert Woods bolting for the NFL and Marqise Lee playing opposite him, Agholor should be in line for a monster season in the starting rotation.
8. Shaquelle Evans, UCLA Bruins
The UCLA Bruins will be trying to get back to their third straight Pac 12 Championship game in 2013. To get there, they’ll rely on the passing game behind the strong arm of Brett Hundley. He will need someone to throw to, however, and the Bruins lose three of their top four pass-catchers from last season due to graduation. Luckily, they get their leading receiver, Shaquelle Evans, back and ready to build off his strong junior season when he hauled in 60 passes for 877 yards and three touchdowns. Hundley will be looking towards Evans even more this fall, which should equal a big spike in production.
7. Chris Harper, Cal Bears
As Sonny Dykes brings the “Bear Raid” to Berkeley in 2013, the Cal Bears will be looking for playmakers to step up in the receiving game. Chris Harper is the team’s leading returning receiver after finishing with 41 catches for 544 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman last season. He’ll move into the No. 1 receiver role and likely benefit from the wide open offensive attack that Cal will be sure to employ this fall. Having Bryce Treggs on the other side will also help keep defenses honest and prevent double teams stifling Harper next season.
6. Gabe Marks, Washington State Cougars
Mike Leach was hoping to find instant success when he brought his air raid offensive attack to the Washington State Cougars. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but there’s plenty of optimism in year two thanks to the emergence of Gabe Marks at receiver. He is the team’s leading returning receiver, tallying 560 yards on 49 catches with a pair of touchdowns. His offseason has been fantastic and he has been dominating one-on-one sessions all spring. He’ll get his opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver in 2013 and should put up big numbers as the Cougars continue to improve their offensive attack.
5. Kasen Williams, Washington Huskies
The Washington Huskies are going to be picking up the pace in 2013 and putting the offense in the hands of Keith Price under center. As a sophomore, Kasen Williams showed he can lead an aerial attack with a team-high 77 catches for 878 yards and six touchdowns. He’s had some troubles during the offseason, but once he steps on the field in 2013, he should once again be the No. 1 target for Price and the Washington passing game. How high his star rises this fall could determine just how far the Dawgs’ offense carries the team in 2013.
4. Paul Richardson, Colorado Buffaloes
After missing all of the 2012 season, Paul Richardson is back at receiver for the Colorado Buffaloes. He will step in as their best offensive weapon immediately and the only question is just how good he can be coming off his knee injury. The coaching staff sees big things for Richardson (perhaps even a Biletnikoff Award) and he will be counted on heavily in the new regime’s offensive gameplan. In nine games as a sophomore in 2011, Richardson showed a fantastic ability to go up and get the football, hauling in 39 receptions for 555 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll need to bounce back even better if Colorado hopes to improve on their rough 2012 campaign.
3. Josh Huff, Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks are known as one of the most prolific rushing teams in college football, but with a new man in charge that could be changing. Mark Helfrich has said he wants to include the passing game more in 2013 and has a quarterback in Marcus Mariota who may end up as one of the best in the nation. That puts Josh Huff in great shape to really show what he can do this fall. He led the team in what receiving yards there were, catching 32 passes for 493 yards (good for 15.41 yards per reception) with a team-high seven touchdowns. His athleticism should make for major production with more opportunities.
2. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Beavers
Brandin Cooks emerged as one half of the most surprisingly dynamic pass-catching duos in the Pac 12 last season for the Oregon State Beavers along with Markus Wheaton. Now, Cooks comes back to follow up on his breakout sophomore season where he caught 67 passes for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns. He will step into a leadership role in 2013 and be the clear No. 1 receiver for the Beavers next season, poised to take over a bigger share of the receiving touchdowns next season.
1. Marqise Lee, USC Trojans
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner and Heisman Trophy snub in 2012, Marqise Lee should be in line for another monster season in 2013. Last season, he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns and will return as the clear No. 1 receiver for the Trojans again next year. While there are questions about who will be playing quarterback at USC next season, there is little reason to doubt that Lee will once again be one of the best pass catchers in all of college football.
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