Darius White, Da'Rick Rogers Lead College Football's Top WR Recruits for 2010
So reads rule no. 1 in BK's Words of Football Wisdom, which, as my most loyal commenters will agree, must be a very short book indeed.
Behold while I apply my questionable knowledge of the game to the refreshingly talented crop of wide receiver recruits joining the ranks of college football's elite next year.
As Scout and Rivals sometimes demonstrate, one man's wide receiver is another man's defensive back. However, I've taken pains to select 10 WRs on whom the three scouting services most agree.
I've re-ranked them based on their team's immediate needs and their potential to contribute early, but some of these guys will be great no matter what criteria you use.
See what you think.
No. 10: Ivan McCartney, Undecided
One of the weirdest offer sheets in college football belongs to Ivan McCartney. Rivals lists Georgia and Pitt in the lead, while ESPN tabs Florida, UNC and Oregon. Scout concurs on the Gators and adds another name: Tennessee, which is officially recruiting everybody.
On McCartney, who wouldn't? He's already a superb route-runner, and though he lacks the ideal size for a red zone threat, will make a fluid possession receiver with excellent hands wherever he lands.
He may not have the elite build of the top players, but he could surprise with his preparedness and reliability.
No. 9: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
Anyone who saw what Ryan Broyles did to Stanford's secondary in the Sun Bowl knows that Landry Jones and the Oklahoma offensive braintrust will be stretching the field deep all next year.
Joining Broyles on the outside will be Kenny Stills, whom Scout claims is one of the most complete receivers in the country. He runs a sub 4.4 40-yard dash and, per Rivals, has some of the best hands in the class.
He'll get jammed at the line a lot, and needs to work on upper body strength. ESPN in particular is down on his avoidance of contact, and lists him nowhere near their top ten.
But, like Broyles, he'll be splitting cover-two defenses until the Cherokees come home — once he stops resembling a soccer player.
No. 8: Tai-ler Jones, Notre Dame
Nobody will ever be Golden Tate, particularly in triple coverage. Nor will we see another Mardy Gilyard any time soon. But Tai-ler Jones is a reasonable marriage of both.
ESPN likes his versatility out of the backfield and his shiftiness on screens. Scout likes his burst off the line. Rivals calls him a "surgeon" when it comes to routes.
All three take issue with his size, but neither Tate nor Gilyard were particularly impressive in that regard. They used concentration to make catches and good cuts to get open, and Tai-ler Jones promises plenty of both.
Should be a phenom in Brian Kelly's system, if he develops physically and mentally according to plan.
No. 7: Justin Hunter, LSU
Hunter's another tall, physical wide receiver for LSU. He makes up for his lack of top-end speed with an outstanding ability to adjust to the ball while it's in the air.
ESPN came in loving his acrobatics and smoothness in routes, which must be welcome news for LSU fans who thought their team played too stiff all year.
A lanky frame and a lack of strength dim his immediate prospects in Scout's eyes, so he could redshirt.
That, and LSU is pretty stacked with huge wide receivers of Hunter's ilk. Though they lose Brandon LaFell, Reuben Randle and Terrance Tolliver return next year and Jordan Jefferson looked good in the Capital One Bowl (if only his WRs didn't have a case of the dropsies, and his coach a case of the I-can't-fathom-clock-management-sies).
Maybe he'll see some time on third down plays, or redshirt entirely, but once he gets up to speed, he'll be another beast for the Bayou Bengals on the outside.
No. 6: Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Rivals loves the tall, thin wide receiver who just needs to add bulk, listing Clemson commit Martavis Bryant sixth-best overall.
Scout likes his speed and thinks he's complete, but dings him for being too lanky and says he may need to redshirt.
Clemson's offense finished the year white-hot, and it wasn't just C.J. Spiller's doing. Their running back stable is stacked, and redshirt freshman Kyle Parker complemented rookie mistakes with outstanding throws under pressure in shootouts with Florida State and the loss to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Championship Game.
Hopefully, Bryant can pick up where senior WR Jacoby Ford left off — making difficult catches over the middle and stretching Defenses deep. The sooner the better.
No. 5: Trovon Reed, Auburn
In Auburn defensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn's reverse and screen-heavy, up-tempo offense, Trovon Reed's quickness, burst, and elusiveness in the open field will be terrifying.
At 6'0" and under 200 pounds, he's suited for the wing/slot formation (which he also played in high school) so crucial to Malzahn's sideline-to-sideline scheming.
Along with freshman Michael Dyer and dual-threat QB Cameron Newton, the Tigers could have the most explosive offense in the SEC come fall. People will forget that it's been rebuilt from the ground up in the space of a little over a year.
No. 4: Kyle Prater, USC
Yet another in a long line of huge, hulking USC wide receivers that will be downright indefensible in the red zone, Kyle Prater has, according to ESPN scouts, the largest wingspan in the class.
A transplant from Illinois (boy, Zook missed out big time; but hey, he's an awesome recruiter), Prater shows the ability to make spectacular adjustments to the ball in the air.
Rivals calls him a hybridized tight end/WR, which sounds ideal for USC's play-action passing game, which emphasizes crossing routes and square-ins.
He has yet to fill out his monster 6'5" frame, but when he does, he'll be the next Keyshawn Johnson — or better — for the Trojans, especially if he can kick it in top gear quicker than he does now.
Trojan fans, pardon me if I omit Scout's favorite, Robert Woods. It's not personal, it's business.
No. 3: Chris Dunkley, Florida
Without knowing what Florida's offense will look like next year, Dunkley could be Florida's top get in this class.
The defensive players are crucial, but Dunkley is a player whose skill set the Gators' O can build around. He's fast and great at changing direction. At only 5'11", he's not a traditional receiver, but he can burn players deep as well as shake them out of their cleats on double moves.
He could be the Percy Harvin of Florida's passing offense, if airing it out is the direction the Gators head next year.
No. 2: Da'Rick Rogers, Georgia
One of the few receivers all three recruiting sites agree will contribute immediately, Rogers played in this year's Under Armour Bowl (though he suffered from the sloppy quarterback play).
He's a five-star to ESPN and Rivals and a four-star to Scout. All three took issue with his route-running skills, but you rarely see good coaching on route-running at the high school level.
The things you can't coach are where Rogers excels. He's huge, he's an outstanding red zone weapon, and his strength overpowers most defensive backs.
All of that is a recipe for early contribution to the Georgia Bulldogs, who are almost certainly itching to take some heat off of A.J. Green.
Rogers could have an All-American freshman season for the Dawgs, and based on his love of contact, his production shouldn't flag if the pressure turns up as a sophomore or junior.
No. 1: Darius White, Texas
I'm big on White. He's got elite speed unhampered by his physical attributes, and this distinguishes him from the other large receivers in this class.
He struggles in press-man, which, for a line-burner like him, will be crucial to overcome.
But Texas hasn't had a player like him since Roy Williams, who ended his career as UT's all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. They'll get him in a position to fight off defenders and provide the deep threat the Longhorns have been missing all year (sorry, Malcolm Williams).
With the promise the coaching staff brings to the table, coupled with his gifts, White could end up as the best receiver in this stacked class.