Jarett Dillard Deserves Respect as One of College Football's Top Receivers

Brian HutchisonCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2009

Jarett Dillard is a name that has gone unmentioned for far too long.  Although Dillard produced big numbers in high school, Rice University was the only Division I college to offer him a full scholarship.

It wasn't because of how he played the game, but his 5'11, 185 pound frame that scared off other Division I schools.

Dillard was brought in to be a speedy down field blocker for a Rice team that ran a spread offense and a lot of option plays.  After an impressive freshman year, Rice brought in a new coach and decided to utilize Dillard's talent more effectively.  

In Dillard's sophomore season, Rice University made an amazing turnaround and qualified for a bowl game, the first time since 1961.  Dillard's 21 touchdowns led the nation and his 1,247 yards earned him All-American honors.  

In 2007, Dillard's junior season, opposing teams began double- and triple-teaming him.  Many scouts considered this a down year for the Rice Owl's standout receiver, even though he broke numerous school and NCAA records with 1,057 yards and 14 more touchdowns. This moved Dillard into the top 8 in the NCAA career touchdown receptions in only his junior season.

Dillard exploded in his final season as an Owl, crushing numerous NCAA records.  His 20 touchdown receptions helped shatter the NCAA career mark with 60 total touchdowns.

Dillard also finished in ninth place on the NCAA career receiving yards list with 4,138, and moved in the top ten in career receptions.  The Owls finished the season with a 9-3 record, giving them a bid to play in the Texas Bowl against Western Michigan. Rice beat them 38-14. 

If you would have seen any of Dillard's games this year you would probably agree that he gets open with his blazing speed and precise route running.  His 43-inch vertical more than makes up for his smaller body.

Dillard stated that he wants to raise that number to 47 inches once he enters the NFL.  The best vertical jump in last years NFL combine was only 38.5 inches by Keenan Burton.  Michael Jordan's top recorded vertical was 48 inches.

Many people suggest that Jarett Dillard never played against tough competition in the Conference USA's Western Division.  However, some of Dillard's best games came against teams outside of the division. 

Against Texas this year, Dillard caught nine balls for 158 yards and a touchdown.  At Tulsa, he caught seven balls for 142 yards and a touchdown. 

And in the East-West Shrine Game, he blazed past East's starting cornerback to haul in a 35-yard touchdown grab from Texas A&M's Stephen McGee.

I think Dillard has the intangibles to have a very successful receiver in the NFL.  He has the sure hands to be a chain mover and the quickness and agility to be a deep threat.  Dillard will probably be best suited as a slot receiver in an up tempo offense. 

Think of him as a DeSean Jackson or a younger version of Isaac Bruce.  I hope teams don't sleep on him in this year's draft because he has the potential to be a very talented receiver in the NFL.