Pac-12 Football Post-Spring Wide Receiver Rankings
Receivers bring out the best in college football fans. They bring us to our feet when a deep ball is thrown and bring us to our knees when the ball is caught. Or dropped.
The Pac-12 consistently provides college football with some of the best receivers in the country and this year is no exception.
One Pac-12 receiver is on a notable Heisman watch list. But Oregon State and Washington's stars may throw a wrench into his Heisman campaign.
Washington State and Oregon State were the only Pac-12 teams that had the nation's top 20 passing offenses last year. That doesn't mean there is not an abundance of receiver talent in the league.
There most definitely is.
No. 12 Colorado
Colorado's most productive receiver last year was freshman Nelson Spruce who caught 44 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns. That put him at No. 22 among all Pac-12 receivers.
Tyler McCulloch was the Buffaloes' second-leading receiver with 34 receptions for 436 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Nick Kasa was a reliable target but he was selected in the 2013 NFL draft's sixth round by the Oakland Raiders.
Colorado is a young team with its third coach in four years. Stability and a gradual improvement will come under head coach Mike MacIntyre.
But Colorado finished at the bottom of almost every Pac-12 statistical category and unfortunately, that's where this unit will be ranked as well.
No. 11 Cal
The California Golden Bears have a new head coach in Sonny Dykes.
They also have a new, uptempo offensive scheme.
The starting quarterback has not been named, the line returns only two starters and star receiver Keenan Allen was selected in the 2013 NFL draft.
Chris Harper does return so there is some experience in the receiver corps. Harper caught 41 passes for 544 yards and two touchdowns last year. Bryce Treggs will be expected to increase his production after catching 21 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown in his freshman year.
The Bears' reactions to a new offense, new coaching staff and holes at almost every position seem to point to an adjustment period. This is not the year of the receivers at Cal.
Next year looks more promising.
No. 10 Arizona State
While the Sun Devils are set with Taylor Kelly at quarterback, the same can't be said at wide receiver.
Seniors Alonzo Agwuenu and Kevin Ozier return with a combined 33 catches and 439 yards.
Richard Smith (141 yards, two touchdowns) had a good spring and has been designated as the starting Z.
The Sun Devils' most experienced receiver is not a wide receiver; tight end Chris Coyle caught 57 passes for 696 yards and five touchdowns last year.
This receiver unit is very inexperienced and lacking a front-runner. More from FOX Sports Arizona:
"You can come out here in a hurry and see wide receivers (are an issue)," Graham said. "I can't wait to get the five guys we signed in here. ... We don't have very many scholarship receivers out here."
No. 9 Arizona
The Arizona Wildcats suffered some key injuries in the receiver corps. Austin Hill's torn ACL is a devastating loss—it's unknown if he will be able to rehab in time to play this season. Hill was the league's second-leading receiver.
Trevor Ermisch and David Richards missed spring practice and Dan Buckner exhausted his eligibility.
The good news is that Terrence Miller was granted a medical redshirt (ankle) and will return for a fifth year.
No. 8 Stanford
We may see a bigger emphasis on the run because the Cardinal's receiving talent took heavy losses.
Head coach David Shaw uses his tight ends as primary receivers so the early NFL defection of Levine Toilolo is a big concern. The Cardinal's second-leading receiver, Drew Terrell, has used up his eligibility.
Tight end Zach Ertz was the team's top receiver last season, catching 69 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns, but he too was selected in the 2013 NFL draft.
The good news is that Ty Montgomery returns.
Michael Rector and Jordan Pratt had good spring camps and Davis Dudchock could be the next great tight end.
No. 7 Utah
The Utes are moving to the spread offense so the hiring of Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator has already taken effect. Expect to see this year's numbers rise drastically.
Kenneth Scott and Dres Anderson should continue to be the main targets.
Tight end Jake Murphy is also a solid go-to-guy but his numbers may not see the same increase due to the offensive scheme change.
Utah had an eye-popping spring game so expectations are high, but the receiving unit remains right about in the middle of the pack.
No. 6 UCLA
Joseph Fauria will soon be playing in the NFL and that is a big loss. The 6' 7", 258-pound tight end was hard to miss when quarterback Brett Hundley looked for him.
Hundley is very accurate and that benefits UCLA's receivers. But UCLA's best receivers may be in the backfield which is surprising because UCLA has always produced great wide receivers.
Running backs Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro and Jordon James will be used as options in the play action pass, if the spring practices are any indication of what is coming this fall.
Receivers Devin Fuller and Grayson Mazzone show a lot of promise but it looks like the running backs will see more balls thrown in their direction.
No. 5 Oregon State
The Beavers have Brandin Cooks for at least one more year but they lost Markus Wheaton to the NFL. Cooks is a great receiver and extremely underrated, but he will have a new problem this fall.
All eyes will be on him. As they should be.
Unless head coach Mike Riley can find another receiver to share the load, Cooks is going to be facing double coverage in every game.
Kevin Cummings has experience with a career 28 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Richard Mullaney has a career 13 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. Obum Gwacham is an intriguing target at 6' 5", 248 pounds.
This unit as a whole is average in experience but having Cooks as its leader bumps the Beavers' ranking up.
No. 4 Washington State
School career-leading receiver Marquess Wilson left the Cougars in dramatic fashion last November.
Returning receivers' career stats:
Brett Bartolone (435 YDS, 4 TD)
Gabe Marks (560 YDS, 2 TD)
Isiah Myers (514 YDS, 4 TD)
Bobby Ratliff (747 YDS, 1 TD)
Dominique Williams (546 YDS, 3 TD)
Kristoff Williams (326 YDS, 6 TD)
There is plenty of depth and experience here. The problem is keeping the quarterback upright so he can make the throw downfield. The Cougars finished last among all FBS teams in sacks allowed.
No. 3 Oregon
Josh Huff was Oregon's top receiver in 2012 with 32 receptions, 493 yards and seven touchdowns.
Under most circumstances that would be cause for concern, but this is Oregon—everyone catches the ball.
Running back De'Anthony Thomas had 45 receptions for 445 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Colt Lyerla had 25 receptions for 392 yards and six touchdowns. The list goes on but the point is made.
The Ducks have 16 receivers on their roster. The depth is astounding.
Nothing new to report here, folks. Move along.
No. 2 Washington
Austin Seferian-Jenkins may be a Heisman finalist dark horse. He is that good. Last season Seferian-Jenkins had 69 receptions for 852 yards and seven touchdowns. More please.
Kasen Williams was the league's seventh-leading receiver with 77 catches, 878 yards and six touchdowns.
Quarterback Keith Price wasn't very consistent last season but the offensive line's woes didn't help. Still, Price's passing game mostly consisted of the five-yard dink.
It's a little early to call this corps the best in the Pac-12 but it has serious potential.
No. 1 USC
Robert Woods declared early for the 2013 NFL draft but Marqise Lee is back. So is Nelson Agholor and Victor Blackwell.
If USC can establish a strong running game, prepare yourselves for some eye-popping numbers from this trio when the passing game opens up.
Blackwell and Agholor both had excellent spring camps so if Lee is double-teamed, there won't be a drop-off.
This receiving corps should be one of the best in the country if the quarterback can get the ball to them.