Power Rankings: Top Ten Wide Receivers in the Pac-10
The Pac-10 is no stranger when it comes to putting up points, but with a long list of running backs more often than not stealing the show, it can be hard for the outstanding wide receivers in this conference to gain the props that they most definitely deserve.
With only one Pac-10 team (Oregon State) finishing amongst the Top 25 in passing yards during the 2009 college football season, the conference wasn’t exactly heralded for lighting up the scoreboard through the air.
However, this doesn’t mean that this conference lacks the talent to make a switch to an aerial attack when the opportunity presents itself.
In fact, the Pac-10 has a great deal of talent at the wide out position and with several of the conference’s top running backs making the leap to the NFL, this could be the season that these stars are given the chance to truly shine.
Fortunately, almost every one of these route runners has a talented quarterback trying to get them the ball. And if their their otherwise inexperienced rushing attack begins to falter, expect to see the following list of top Pac-10 wide receivers to take control of the game.
No.1: James Rodgers – Oregon State
James Rodgers led all Pac-10 wide receivers last season with seven receptions per game and was only behind USC’s stalwart receiver Damian Williams with 79.5 receiving yards per game.
The senior wide out is considered by many to be one of the most versatile players in the NCAA. He ranks third among active players in the nation in All Purpose yards (rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return) with 5,077 yards.
Rodgers broke an Oregon State record in 2009 with 59 receptions and is 60 receptions short of breaking Mike Hass career reception record as a Beaver.
No. 2: Ronald Johnson – USC
An injury to his collarbone kept Ronald out of the first four games of the 2009 season, but that didn’t stop him from showing off his talents in the eight games that he did appear in.
Johnson finished second amongst his fellow Trojans with 47.2 receiving yards per game. He also caught 34 passes, the most of his USC career, and scored three touchdowns in his shortened season.
Coming back for his senior season, Johnson will take over the number one receiver spot with the departure of Damian Williams. His deer like speed and his natural instincts in finding the ball when it is in the air should make Ronald a huge threat in 2010.
No. 3: Ryan Whalen – Stanford
Benefiting greatly from the accurate arm of young quarterback Andrew Luck, Whalen’s 4.67 receptions per game was good enough for him to land sixth in the Pac-10 in that category.
Whalen averaged 71.2 yards per game and appeared to be Luck’s favorite wide receiver throughout most of the season.
Originally a walk on, Whalen’s career high 57 receptions in 2009 have many people considering him to be Stanford’s top option at the wide out position. His reliable hands and his precise rout running makes him an excellent Wes Welker type player who works perfectly in Harbaugh’s pro style offense.
No. 4: Jermaine Kearse – Washington
Kearse played in all 12 games for the Huskies and with each passing week his talent rose to the top of the depth chart, eventually starting nine games as Washington’s top receiver.
His 50 receptions, 866 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns led all Huskies and his 72.2 yards per game ranked fourth in the Pac-10.
With Jake Locker’s decision to return for his senior season, Kearse’s numbers should remain constant and his continued success could provide the extra boost that the Huskies need to bring their team to the next level.
No. 5: Jeff Maehl – Oregon
As the only receiver returning from the Ducks' amazing run to the Rose Bowl in 2009, Oregon will lean heavily on Maehl in 2010, hoping that his success in his junior season continues.
Jeff led all Oregon receivers with 53 receptions and 696 yards. He also tied exiting receiver Ed Dickson with six touchdowns, scoring five of his touchdowns in the final month of the season.
Maehl rounded out the Top 10 amongst Pac-10 receivers with 53.5 yards per game and his one reception in the Rose Bowl extended his consecutive game streak with at least one reception to 21
No. 6: Devin Aguilar – Washington
With an arm like Jake Locker under center, it is not hard to believe that he is able to find more than one target when he goes through his progressions.
Devin Aguilar more than doubled his reception total from his freshman season (20), collecting 42 catches while gaining 593 receiving yards. He ranked seventh in the Pac-10 with 59.3 yards per game and eighth with 4.20 receptions per game.
Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse created an excellent duo for Locker in 2009 and bringing this trio back for another season could quickly spell success for Washington's passing game in the upcoming season.
No. 7: Juron Criner – Arizona
Leading his team with 44.8 receiving yards per game, Juron Criner was one of four receivers to gather in 40 or more catches in 2009 and he led all Wildcat wide receivers with nine touchdowns.
Criner’s 45 catches were a vast improvement from the seven he collected in his freshman year in Arizona and the expectations for him have skyrocketed.
Criner was held without a catch in only one game last year and had an extremely impressive outing against Stanford, collecting 12 catches for 152 yards. With only one of their four top receivers leaving, the Wildcats have a plethora of options at wide out and it all starts with this junior.
No. 8: Nelson Rosario – UCLA
In a year where the Bruins had a carousel of quarterbacks taking snaps, Nelson Rosario still found a way to be a consistent target no matter who was launching the ball from the pocket.
Rosario finished the season ninth in receiving yards per game amongst Pac-10 receivers, averaging 55.6 yards.
Rosario’s 6-6 frame makes him an excellent target for which ever quarterback eventually wins the job for the Bruins. His elite speed also adds to his overall value, providing UCLA with an always-dangerous down field threat.
No. 9: Marvin Jones – California
Marvin Jones led the Golden Bears in catches (43), receiving yards (651), and touchdowns (6) in 2009, emerging as the go-to receiver for the often-inaccurate Kevin Riley.
Jones showed that he is capable of being a No. 1 receiver but may struggle to maintain the 50.1 yards per game with a fairly inconsistent quarterback.
Depending on whether or not Kevin Riley can step it up for Cal under center, Jones has a great chance of becoming the top receiver on this team for a second straight season. But if Riley can't find his groove from the get go, Marvin’s numbers could very well take a nose dive in his senior season.
No. 10: Chris Owusu – Stanford
Making a statement more for his kickoff return abilities than catching the ball, Chris Owusu struggled at times to become the wide receiver that fans had hoped he would transform into.
Owuso started off the season running back a kickoff return for a touchdown in three of the first four games and teams quickly learned to kick the ball elsewhere. He finished the season ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in all purpose yards, averaging 147.3 per game.
This breakaway speed on these returns displayed his gazelle-like running abilities but too many dropped balls throughout most of the season forced Andrew Luck to find other receivers in his progressions. Owusu still led the Cardinal with five touchdowns in 2009 and if he can learn how to hold onto the ball, he could become a serious threat that teams will have to pay extra close attention to.