Predicting Where Top 2014 WR Recruits Will Land
The 2014 recruiting class is particularly deep at wide receiver, a position highlighted by senior high school standouts throughout the nation. Many of these dynamic playmakers remain uncommitted, still considering a variety of offers.
These are the athletes we focus on here. Several top-tier receivers have visited campuses and identified favorites, giving us a sense of where they may be heading next year.
Here we predict the program of choice for the country's top pass targets.
5-Star Speedy Noil (New Orleans, La.)
Edna Karr High School star Speedy Noil is ranked the nation's No. 1 wide receiver recruit by 247Sports. The 5'11", 175-pound prospect plays primarily quarterback in high school, but he's expected to step into a featured receiver role at the next level.
Noil lives up to his moniker, running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, according to 247Sports. His lengthy offer list includes Alabama, Miami, Oregon, Florida State, Texas and Notre Dame.
In-season campus visits have featured trips to Texas A&M and LSU. That pair of programs appears to be separated from the pack, with USC and Florida still in the mix.
Prediction: Noil joins an impressive group of Louisiana products in Baton Rouge. He commits to LSU, bolstering a class that already includes 4-star receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La.).
4-Star Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Cardinal Newman wide receiver Travis Rudolph is an explosive playmaker who uses his physicality to reel in tough catches. The 6'1", 185-pound prospect is a well-traveled recruit.
He's visited Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Miami this year. Rudolph, ranked the country's 10th-best receiver by 247Sports, decommitted from the Hurricanes in March, and offers from Nebraska, Oregon and Mississippi State followed.
Rudolph made an impact as a high school freshman and hasn't slowed down since, tallying 91 catches for 1,842 yards and 23 touchdowns through his junior year. He has 43 receptions for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, per MaxPreps.
Prediction: The allure of Ohio State is tempting, but this comes down to a classic recruiting battle between Sunshine State rivals. Rudolph spurns the Seminoles and heads to Gainesville, where he teams up with top 2014 quarterback recruit Will Grier on the Gators.
4-Star Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn.)
Josh Malone has taken his game to another level this fall, far surpassing the production he previously posted. The 6'2.5", 190-pound Station Camp High School star has caught 47 passes for 987 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns this season, per 247Sports.
Those numbers are quickly approaching the totals from his sophomore and junior seasons combined (51 receptions, 1,112 yards and 18 touchdowns). Malone is listed as the nation's No. 6 receiver prospect and No. 55 overall recruit in 247Sports composite rankings.
The explosive offensive weapon is staying active on the recruiting trail when he's not busy catching touchdowns. Malone has made official visits to Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio State.
He has visits to Florida State and Clemson scheduled in November. Alabama also extended a late offer to Malone in October, adding another powerhouse program into the decision-making process.
Prediction: Malone picks Tennessee after strongly considering leaving his home state for Georgia or Florida State. The Volunteers have manufactured several standout receivers recently, and he joins 4-star commit Lavon Pearson to form another formidable duo in the 2014 class.
4-Star Frank Iheanacho (Houston, Texas)
Westside High School wide receiver Frank Iheanacho is a late bloomer in the recruiting spectrum. He strictly played basketball as a junior before joining the football program this year.
Iheanacho has quickly blossomed into a big-time talent. His 6'7", 220-pound frame stirs the imagination of what he may be capable of as he continues to grow more comfortable on the field.
Through eight games this season, he has 30 receptions for 465 yards and 10 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.
As word spread about Iheanacho's success, his offer list rapidly expanded. Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas, Florida State, TCU and Ole Miss are among programs that extended offers in October.
Prediction: Iheanacho adds to a strong Texas A&M recruiting class and arrives at College Station among the country's most intriguing freshman skill players.
4-Star WR Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C.)
Hillside High School standout Trevion Thompson is the complete package at receiver. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at 6'3", 190 pounds.
Thompson is an athletic specimen prepared to do damage early at the next level. College coaching staffs have taken notice, as offers have consistently poured in during the past two years.
His options include North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, Ohio State and West Virginia.
He's visited Clemson, UNC and Ohio State during the 2013 football season.
Prediction: Thompson's familiarity with the Buckeyes extends beyond an October campus visit. He attended Urban Meyer's summer camp and has considered Ohio State among his favorites since June. Thompson pulls the trigger on a commitment to Columbus, leaving behind several closer options.
5-Star Malachi Dupre (New Orleans, La.)
Malachi Dupre is a dominant presence for national powerhouse John Curtis Christian. He's a rangy 6'3", 185-pound target in the passing game who presents major matchup issues.
Dupre is ranked the country's third-best receiver and No. 36 overall prospect by 247Sports. As a junior, he had 36 receptions for 816 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Through seven games this season, Dupre has caught 21 passes for 348 and two scores, according to MaxPreps. He's at his best in the red zone.
Dupre's skill set has garnered offers from programs throughout the nation, including Michigan, Miami, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Auburn.
Prediction: Alabama and UCLA remain under consideration until the final decision, but Dupre picks LSU. The Tigers are having a strong offensive season under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and this top target has attended three 2013 games and a summer camp in Baton Rouge.
4-Star Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Dwyer High School star Johnnie Dixon displays enough promise to make an immediate impact in college. The 5'10", 190-pound athlete excels in gaining separation against defenders and has incredible burst.
He is considered the nation's No. 16 wide receiver prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings. Dixon helps fuel the offensive attack for unbeaten Dwyer.
His offer sheet features Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Oregon. Dixon has spent official visits at Arkansas, Ohio State and NC State.
He is slated to use an official visit at Alabama in November and has been a frequent guest of Miami, where he unofficially visited for a game in October.
Prediction: Miami enters the final stretch of his recruiting process with a slight edge, but a late visit to Tuscaloosa captures Dixon's attention and ultimately results in a commitment to Alabama.