College Football's Most Dangerous Wide Receiver Duos for the 2012 Season

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IAugust 17, 2012

College Football's Most Dangerous Wide Receiver Duos for the 2012 Season

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    Each college football team in the country would love to have a difference-making wide receiver, one who could make a major impact for its offense.

    There are some teams, though, that happen to be spoiled with not just one but two standout wide receivers that are capable of doing serious damage to opposing defenses.

    So which teams are lucky enough to have prominent pairs of pass-catchers this year?

    Here's a look at college football's most dangerous wide receiver duos for the upcoming 2012 season.

Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, USC

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    After catching 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, Robert Woods has already solidified his status as one of college football's elite wide receivers.

    Now, it looks as though sophomore Marqise Lee, one of Woods' receiving counterparts at USC, is about to do the same thing in 2012.

    Last year, Lee burst onto the scene as a true freshman, catching 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns, as he showed that he has the physical skills to be a future superstar.

    Woods and Lee are two of the most talented receivers in the country, which is good news for QB Matt Barkley, who can use all the help he can get in order to live up to the lofty expectations and pressure that have been placed on his shoulders.

    Barkley, Woods and Lee comprise the best passing trio in all of college football, and they'll play a huge role in USC's run at a conference championship as well as a national title in 2012.

Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter, Tennessee

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    Da'Rick Rogers hasn't exactly been a stranger to controversy during his time at Tennessee. However, this past season, Rogers finally proved that when he remains focused, he's one of the most unstoppable receiving forces in the country.

    The former 5-star recruit finally played up to his full potential in 2011. He led the SEC with 67 total receptions for 1,040 yards and hauled in nine touchdown passes.

    Rogers will now be rejoined by Justin Hunter, who sat out almost all of last year with a knee injury, to give Tennessee a truly deadly duo for defenses to have to stop.

    The two big, athletic juniors are both future high NFL draft picks, and they'll give QB Tyler Bray two explosive weapons to work with this season.

    With a big-armed signal-caller like Bray tossing them the ball, Rogers and Hunter should both put up some huge numbers in 2012.

Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

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    Sammy Watkins turned out to be college football's biggest freshman sensation of the 2011 season.

    The former 5-star recruit immediately became the focal point of Clemson's offense last year, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding another 231 yards on the ground.

    As if that wasn't enough, Watkins also proved to be one of the most dangerous return men in the country, as he averaged 25 yards on kickoff returns and brought one back to the house for a touchdown.

    Watkins' performance helped him garner plenty of attention and accolades, but it also overshadowed the campaign that teammate DeAndre Hopkins had.

    Hopkins was one of the ACC's most productive receivers in 2011, finishing fifth in the conference with 72 catches for 978 yards.

    With both receivers returning for the 2012 season, along with QB Tajh Boyd and RB Andre Ellington, Clemson's offensive skill-position group will once again be one of the fastest and most athletic units in college football this season.

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

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    Quarterback Geno Smith certainly wasn't the only reason that West Virginia's offense ranked sixth in the nation in passing last season.

    Smith had plenty of help from his two top receivers—Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

    Austin and Bailey combined to catch 173 total passes for 2,465 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011, and they proved to be two of the most explosive receiving threats in college football. 

    Austin, a 5'9", 176-pound senior, and Bailey, a 5'10", 190-pound junior, have built a strong rapport with Smith, and they have formed one of the most cohesive passing attacks in the country.

    Now that Smith, Austin and Bailey are all comfortable in Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid-style passing attack, Big 12 defenses are surely going to have their hands full trying to slow down the Mountaineers in 2012.

Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M

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    Texas A&M is definitely going to miss quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was the No. 8 overall pick of this year's NFL draft.

    What's encouraging, however, is that new head coach Kevin Sumlin has shown that he knows how to put together a powerful passing attack from his time spent at Houston, and he should be able to do the same thing in College Station in 2012.

    Luckily for Sumlin, he'll have two of the best receivers in the SEC—Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu—at his disposal this season.

    Swope and Nwachukwu combined to catch 139 passes for 1,846 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011.

    If they can get consistent play from the quarterback position this season, the two seniors should be able to produce at a high rate once again in 2012, even though they'll be facing some of the best secondaries that college football has to offer.

Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese, Baylor

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    Baylor's offense is really going to suffer without the lethal passing combination of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III and the school's all-time leading receiver, Kendall Wright, who were both first-round picks in this year's NFL draft.

    The good news for the Bears is that they welcome back three of the Big 12's best receivers—Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson.

    Last year, Williams and Reese combined to catch 110 passes for 1,834 yards and 18 touchdowns. 

    The 6'3", 190-pound Williams and the 5'10", 160-pound Reese are physically two very different types of receivers and complement each other extremely well.

    Although their production will likely slip without RG3 tossing them the ball, they will still be two of the most dangerous receivers in the conference in 2012.

Eric Ward and Darrin Moore, Texas Tech

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    Texas Tech finished seventh in the country in passing offense last season, averaging 345 yards through the air per game.

    A big part of the Red Raiders' passing success was the play of receivers Eric Ward and Darrin Moore.

    Although Moore missed three games with an injury, the two still combined to catch 131 passes for 1,371 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2011.

    With senior QB Seth Doege returning behind center this season, they'll have a great chance to top those impressive numbers in 2012. There's no doubt that Ward, Moore and fellow receiver Alex Torres will definitely be a tough receiving trio to contain this year.

Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter, TCU

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    TCU will be making the big step up from the Mountain West Conference to the Big 12 this season, and many fans are interested to see how the Horned Frogs will handle BCS-caliber competition in 2012.

    Although the team's overall roster may not be as loaded and as deep as those of established conference powerhouses such as Oklahoma and Texas, TCU does have plenty of intriguing talent at the offensive skill positions for the 2012 season.

    Two of the key playmakers to watch this year will be receivers Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter.

    Boyce, who led the Mountain West with 998 receiving yards in 2011, is one of the most underrated receivers in college football.

    That will change this season, though, now that he'll finally be able to show off his skills on a national stage.

    Carter, on the other hand, was one of the most highly-touted high school recruits ever to come to Fort Worth. After averaging 15.3 yards per catch as a true freshman last year, the 5'11", 161-pound sophomore should now be ready to have a true breakout campaign in 2012.

Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis, Texas

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    Texas struggled mightily to put together a consistent passing game last season, but that was largely due to uneven play at the quarterback position—not because the team lacked quality receivers. In fact, the Longhorns actually have two of the most reliable pass-catchers in the Big 12, Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis.

    Even though they didn't get much help from their quarterbacks, Shipley and Davis still combined to catch 89 passes for 1,216 yards in 2011.

    If this year's starting signal-caller, David Ash, can improve and take the necessary steps to become a more dependable passer in 2012, the two receivers should be able to help Texas improve on its 86th-ranked passing offense from a year ago.

Tavarres King and Michael Bennett, Georgia

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    If quarterback Aaron Murray missed star receiver A.J. Green last year, he certainly didn't show it. Murray actually flourished without Green, as he threw for over 3,100 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2011.

    What allowed the quarterback to be so successful was the emergence of receivers such as Tavarres King, Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett.

    King led the team with 47 catches for 705 yards and eight touchdowns last year, but Mitchell and Bennett were both key factors as well.

    Mitchell is expected now to split time between receiver and cornerback in 2012, which should open the door for Bennett to step out and shine this season.

    While neither King nor Bennett can compare to Green, both of them are solid receivers who should once again provide Murray with the firepower he needs to be one of the most productive passers in the country.

Devin Street and Mike Shanahan, Pittsburgh

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    Pittsburgh's passing offense was expected to improve under coach Todd Graham last year. However, quarterback Tino Sunseri never managed to adapt properly to Graham's scheme.

    Since Graham bolted the program after just one year, former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst will now get his chance to revitalize the offense in 2012.

    Not only will Chryst have Ray Graham, one of the best running backs in the country, at his disposal, he'll also have two of the Big East's best receivers—Devin Street and Mike Shanahan.

    Last year, Street and Shanahan combined to catch 92 passes for 1,247 yards, even though there were times in 2011 when Sunseri struggled mightily.

    If Chryst can help Sunseri improve his consistency, the Panthers' top two receivers should both compete for All-Big East honors in 2012.

Kenny Stills and Trey Metoyer, Oklahoma

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    It obviously isn't going to be easy for Oklahoma to replace record-setting receiver Ryan Broyles, especially when you look back and see how much the team struggled after Broyles went down with a knee injury in the latter part of last season.

    Remember, though, this is Oklahoma—a program that seemingly lands top-tier receiver recruits every year—so you know that there are no shortage of reinforcements waiting at the position.

    The receiver that will be asked to fill Broyles' shoes this season is Kenny Stills.

    Stills is already a proven commodity. He's caught 61 passes in each of his first two seasons, and it looks as though he could be ready to ascend to true star status in 2012.

    The real receiver to watch in Norman this season, though, could be heralded freshman Trey Metoyer.

    Metoyer was one of the top-rated recruits of the 2012 class, and he should develop into a valuable complement to Stills this season.

Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, LSU

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    LSU certainly didn't rely on its passing game for its success in 2011, as the Tigers ranked a lowly 106th in the country in passing offense last year, averaging just 153 yards through the air per game.

    That will change this season, though, now that strong-armed quarterback Zach Mettenberger is taking over the starting job.

    Mettenberger may not have the chance to throw to last year's leading receiver, Rueben Randle, who left for the NFL this offseason, but he will have three very capable pass-catchers to rely on in Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Russell Shepard.

    Beckham, who caught 41 passes as a true freshman last year, and Landry are former highly-touted high school recruits who have the talent to be two of the SEC's standout receivers in 2012.

Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt has had only one receiver drafted by an NFL team—Earl Bennett was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft by the Chicago Bears—since 1992. However, the Commodores currently have two receivers who appear to be destined to play on Sundays someday.

    Junior Jordan Matthews and sophomore Chris Boyd are two of the most physically gifted wideouts that the team has had in decades, and they should really help give the offense a big boost in 2012.

    Last year, Matthews and Boyd combined to catch only 72 total passes, but they did manage to make plenty of noise in the red zone, as they combined for 13 touchdowns.

    The 6'3" Matthews and the 6'4" Boyd are both huge targets, and they'll once again cause fits for opposing defenses when Vanderbilt gets near the goal line in 2012.

Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

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    Iowa's offense is clearly going to miss the presence of wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who led the Hawkeyes in catches each of the past two seasons. However, the team does have two receivers—Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley—who are ready to fill the void he left.

    The 6'3", 215-pound Davis is one of the top senior wide receiver prospects available for the 2013 NFL draft, and he'll be looking to impress scouts in his final year, while Martin-Manley, who is just a sophomore, will be looking to continue to improve and set himself up for greatness in the years to come.

    The two receivers combined to catch 80 passes for 1,036 yards last year.

    Since McNutt is gone, as is bell-cow back Marcus Coker, who transferred to the FCS level back in January, Davis and Martin-Manley will now be expected to step up and be the two featured playmakers for Iowa's offense in 2012.

Rashad Greene and Willie Haulstead, Florida State

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    Willie Haulstead missed all of the 2011 season with a concussion he sustained in preseason practice last year.

    While that obviously isn't something to celebrate, there was at least one good thing that came out of it, and that was the fact that it gave Rashad Greene the opportunity he needed to make a name for himself in Tallahassee.

    As just a true freshman, Greene ended up leading the team with 38 catches for 596 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011.

    The speedy 6'0", 175-pound Greene will now be joined by Haulstead, who is back and ready to go, and the two of them will be the leaders of one of the ACC's deepest and most talented receiver corps in the 2012 season.

Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon, Michigan

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    For some strange reason, Roy Roundtree turned into a ghost during his first year spent in coordinator Al Borges' new West Coast-style offensive attack in 2011.

    After a breakout sophomore season in 2010 in which he caught 72 passes for 935 yards and seven touchdowns, Roundtree's production declined dramatically last year, and he finished the season with just 19 catches and two touchdowns.

    Jeremy Gallon was able to pick up some of the slack, catching 31 passes for 453 yards and three touchdowns, but it was still a rather forgettable year for both receivers.

    Now that they've had another offseason to absorb Borges' offense, you would have to expect that both Roundtree and Gallon will be in store for much more successful seasons in 2012.

    QB Denard Robinson is far from the best pure passer in college football, but Robinson should find a way to get the ball to his two top receiving targets on a much more consistent basis this year.

Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd, North Carolina

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    North Carolina may have lost its leading receiver from last season, Dwight Jones, but the Tar Heels shouldn't have much trouble replacing him, especially with the returns of both Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd.

    Last year, Highsmith was one of the most underrated receivers in the ACC, catching 51 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns.

    While Boyd didn't have nearly the same number of receptions as either Jones or Highsmith, catching only 14 passes, when he did get the ball in his hands, he certainly made the most of it, averaging 20.9 yards per catch and scoring five touchdowns.

    Highsmith is a big, possession-type receiver who should routinely be able to move the chains this season, while Boyd will provide the explosive home-run threat that can really stretch the field and put pressure on opposing secondaries.

Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins, Cincinnati

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    Nobody is going to confuse Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati's new starting quarterback, with the top-level passers this season.

    Still, Legaux does have the chance actually to look pretty good this season, considering he'll have two of the Big East's best receivers—Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins—to throw to.

    McClung and Thompkins combined to catch 93 passes for 1,219 yards last year, and they turned out to be two of the conference's most dependable receivers.

    If Legaux can handle his new role as the full-time starter, the two receivers should once again put together strong campaigns this season.

T.J. Moe and Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri

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    Missouri will face plenty of tough challenges as new members of the SEC East in 2012. Luckily for the Tigers, though, they should have one of the league's most explosive passing attacks this season. James Franklin is one of the most talented dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and T.J. Moe is one of the most underrated receivers in college football.

    Over the last two years, Moe has hauled in 146 passes for 1,694 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. 

    The 6'1", 200-pound senior should now receive a lot of help from the addition of highly-touted 5-star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham, who was one of the most heralded prospects of the 2012 class.

    Green-Beckham is a huge 6'6", 220-pound receiver who should complement Moe perfectly in the one season they spend together in 2012.

Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones, San Jose State

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    Even though on paper Louisiana Tech has to be the definitive preseason favorite to win the WAC championship this year, it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see San Jose State give the Bulldogs a real run for their money in 2012.

    That's because the Spartans return two of the conference's top wide receivers, Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones.

    Grigsby and Jones combined to catch 150 passes for 1,452 yards in 2011, and they both displayed the type of playmaking ability that will give opposing defensive coordinators fits.

    When you add Ryan Otten, one of the best tight ends in the country, to the equation, it seems that San Jose State has all the weapons it needs to have a truly scary passing attack in 2012.

Corey Brown and Devin Smith, Ohio State

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    Ohio State fans are all eager to see what new head coach Urban Meyer will be able to do with talented yet still very raw starting quarterback Braxton Miller.

    Miller has the potential to develop into a star, but in order for him to reach those heights, he'll need to have some of his receivers step up and help him out.

    The two receivers that will be counted on to raise their games to a new level in 2012 will be Corey Brown and Devin Smith.

    Brown and Smith combined to catch only 28 passes last year, but both of them should be able to produce at much higher rates this season. 

    While Brown, a former highly-touted 4-star recruit, may possess the most physical ability out of the two, look for Smith to play just as big of a role in the passing game in 2012.