While the nation focuses on all the great quarterbacks on the collegiate landscape, the young men catching those passes are putting in big time work around the country. There are big guys, small guys, fast guys, quick guys and just precision route-runners who know how to get open.
The crop is deep and this year's Biletnikoff Award, the trophy given to the best wide receiver, will be quite the battle.
If Your Best 11 has to pick one, we're going with Texas A&M's stud receiver, Mike Evans.
That is no disrespect to the national leader in receptions and yardage, Brandin Cooks of Oregon State, who has already amassed 1,176 yards through seven games. It also does not mean big-play guys like Tevin Reese or Antwan Goodley at Baylor, Devin Street at Pitt or Paul Richardson at Colorado are not worthy.
The reality is, picking any of the 21 players averaging over 100 yards per game, or any of the other high-caliber guys make sense.
Every conference has elite receivers and even a couple tight ends, Jace Amaro at Texas Tech and Eric Ebron at North Carolina, are getting into the mix. In the Big Ten, Allen Robinson and Jeremy Gallon are getting it done, albeit in wholly separate ways. Robinson is a big target who snatches balls in traffic, while Gallon finds a way to get open seemingly every play.
It is the same in every conference, a look at CFB Stats shows that of the players averaging over 100 yards per game, only the Independent ranks are not represented. Every other conference—ACC, AAC, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, C-USA, MWC, MAC and Sun Belt—have a player sitting on the list. A list, that at 21 players, is currently 175 percent larger than last season's 12 players who reached or exceeded that per-game average.
In short, there are a lot of good players out there, but Mike Evans is the one you most want on your roster. The redshirt sophomore from Texas A&M is a player who's physically impossible to cover. He knows how to make himself a target and is a monster when the ball is in the air or in his hands.
The first two plays there speak to Evans' concentration and body control. In both instances, Evans is covered, with the defensive back in good position. Yet, the receiver is able to catch the ball in traffic and then makes sure he keeps his feet in bounds.
Evans is not the greatest route-runner out of this year's crop, but he understands how to make himself a target and is not shy in the interior of the field. Quarterback Johnny Manziel's first touchdown of the season (after he served his half-game suspension) is to Evans, which comes on a secondary route that pops open after the quarterback's initial reads were covered. Evans is a big target, making this an easy pitch-and-catch, and the big pass-catcher has plenty of body control and acceleration to get to the end zone.
Those attributes make Evans a high-caliber candidate for selection as the nation's best receiver, but the reason he is the pick is, to put it simply, his power. Powerful hands to snatch the football. Powerful body to get position on defenders. And Evans has the power and strength to explode for big gains after he secures the football.
That stiff arm is why Evans deserves the nod. Plenty of receivers make that catch, and some even run away from the defensive back without the need for any contact at all. Plenty of other receivers can get open, only to be tackled by the cornerback instead of going the distance.
And, that is why Evans is the pick as college football's best. In traffic, the receiver, with those powerful hands and the strength to establish position, comes down with the touchdown. That is what a team gets with Evans on the squad.
Mike Evans is the pick out of a group of receivers in 2013 that is among the most talented college football has seen in recent years. Not only does Evans possess the ability to take a top off of a defense, command safety help and use his speed to get loose, but he's also got a power that many receivers lack when they get into traffic.
In other words, when you get a chance to grab a guy who can do everything required of the position, and then a little more, in extremely aggressive fashion, you take him.