Big 12 Football: Biggest Spring Wide Receiver Battles
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Get ready, Big 12 fans.
You're going to see a lot of new faces streaking down the sidelines this spring.
The quality of receiver talent lost this year is mind-blowing: Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Kenny Stills and Chris Harper, just to name a few, will all be playing on Sundays this fall.
Obviously, the upcoming spring practices are going to be full of positional battles—especially at quarterback—but the battle for wide receiver will be very compelling as well.
We're going to take a quick look around the league, identifying by team the receivers* who may be serious challengers to land the top spots on their teams' depth chart.
*tight ends are not included
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Once Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders was cleared to play last October, it was clear this receiver had a bright future. Saunders notched four 100-plus-yard games including two games of 181 and 162 reception yards.
Obviously, Saunders will be one of the Sooners' top targets, but who are the other two guys? Jaz Reynolds was suspended last year and missed all of 2012. Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson are no longer on the team after they too were suspended.
Trey Metoyer looks like a great candidate—he had a great spring last year and as a true freshman hauled in 17 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. Sterling Shepard (45 catches, 621 yards and three touchdowns) also looks like a strong starter.
Incoming freshman Dannon Cavil could be a big sleeper in spring practice since he has already enrolled. The 6'5", 205-pound receiver provides a nice tall target for the Sooners' quarterback to play toss-and-catch with this fall.
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The Longhorns lose Marquise Goodwin, but Texas returns its top two receivers in Mike Davis (57 catches, 939 yards, seven touchdowns) and Jaxon Shipley (59 catches, 737 yards, six touchdowns).
There will be a battle for one spot, and it may be hotly contested since the Longhorns will be turning the tempo up on their offense.
Bryant Jackson (eight catches, 140 yards) has the most experience, so he's probably the most likely candidate unless one of the reserve running backs converts to a slot receiver.
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Like Texas, Oklahoma State looks fairly stable at wide receiver. The Cowboys return their top two receivers in Josh Stewart (101 catches, 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns) and Charlie Moore (35 catches, 542 yards and six touchdowns), but lose Isaiah Anderson (22 catches, 407 yards and four touchdowns) and Tracy Moore (20 catches, 259 yards and four touchdowns).
Last year, Oklahoma State had 29 receivers so there will be no panic button-pushing in Stillwater.
Austin Hays and Blake Webb look like the two players going head-to-head for that third receiver spot, but the entire receiver corps will certainly push to move up on the roster. Hays had 29 receptions, 394 yards and two touchdowns last season, while Webb hauled in 14 catches for 218 yards and one touchdown.
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Kliff Kingsbury will have some major decision-making come this spring—his Red Raiders will have lost four senior receivers with a lot of experience, including Darrin Moore (92 catches, 1,032 yards and 13 touchdowns) and Tyson Williams (35 catches, 352 yards and two touchdowns).
Eric Ward, the team's leading receiver last year, returns as well as contributors Javon Bell and Jakeem Grant so all is not lost. Bell and Grant could both start, or one could leapfrog over the other.
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Skye Dawson and Josh Boyce (early NFL defection) are both gone—and they comprised two of the top three receivers on TCU's roster. Brandon Carter (36 catches, 590 yards and six touchdowns) returns along with a host of other contributors.
Head coach Gary Patterson has a few receivers with experience, so several players have a shot to grab a starting spot.
Keep your eyes on LaDarius Brown and Cam White—Brown made seven starts last season, while White made four.
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Of all the spots that are most gaping on the Mountaineers' depth chart, receiver has to be near the top for most vexing. Yes, the Mountaineers are stocked with receivers, but it's going to be hard to duplicate what Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D. Woods did last season.
The trio were the team's leading receivers—the team's fourth-leading receiver was actually running back Andrew Buie.
Of those not named Bailey, Austin or Woods, Ivan McCartney had the most reception yards last season (nine receptions, 112 yards), while Jordan Thompson has the most experience and yardage combined—Thompson played in 13 games and hauled in 13 receptions for 75 yards. Unfortunately, McCartney left the team in November, according to multiple outlets, and is not listed on a 2013 roster.
Of all the positional battles in the Big 12, the Mountaineers' receiver corps could be one of the most important, since West Virginia is also breaking in a new quarterback and rebuilding its O-line.
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The Wildcats lose Chris Harper, who led the team in reception yardage with 857, but they return Tyler Lockett, who was second in reception yardage, and Tramaine Thompson, who was third.
Honestly, there should be a battle for the third spot between Curry Sexton and Torell Miller, with perhaps Kyle Klein getting in the mix.
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Kansas didn't pass the ball a lot, so the receiving corps didn't post typical gaudy Big 12 numbers. The Jayhawks do lose their top guy in Kale Pick, but he only hauled in 26 catches for 390 yards.
Andrew Turzilli (17 catches, 287 yards) returns as the receiver with the best stats from last year. Clearly, Charlie Weis will want to increase that productivity (and he may just do that), so we're probably going to see more intense battles at wide receiver.
I like this kid Tre' Parmalee—he earned Freshman All-Big 12 honors from ESPN and as a true freshman, had one career start at the receiver position. Look for Parmalee to challenge Turzilli for a starting spot.
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Baylor loses two of its top three receivers in Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson but returns its No. 2 receiver in Tevin Reese.
Art Briles will have to find a few more starters beside Reese, and he'll probably be looking very closely at Levi Norwood (40 catches, 487 yards and one touchdown) and Antwan Goodley (17 catches, 171 yards and two touchdowns).
That battle should be a good one with Clay Fuller also mixing things up—Fuller, who will turn 26 this season, played six years in the minor leagues before walking on to Baylor. What a great story.
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This spring camp probably will have the best battle for open wide receiver spots. All three of the Cyclones' top receivers are gone—Josh Lenz, Chris Young and Aaron Horne.
Sure, the Cyclones weren't known as a prolific passing team (they finished No. 8 in the league), but a bunch of guys will have their shots to make their moves to the top.
Jarvis West, Quenton Bundrage, Albert Gary and Ja'Quarius Daniels are all ready to storm the battlefield.