Recruiting: Where 2011's Top Wide Receivers Should Go
It's time to decide, once again, the proper career paths for a group of people I have no personal and little professional affiliation with—2011's top wide receiver recruits!
Taking their film, their offers and their schools of interest into account, I've assessed what systems properly suit their talents.
What you hope with any athlete is that, in some cosmic way, every recruit goes were they were supposed to go.
For these eight players, here's my take on where that might be.
As 2011's top speed receiver, I'd like to see Farmer choose a team having trouble stretching defenses vertically.
Current favorite (and likely final destination) USC will have no problem doing that after bringing in an absurdly talented wide receiver class—which includes Farmer's old teammate, Robert Woods—in this past cycle.
Any one of Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCLA or Washington would be better fits for Farmer, some place where he can be option number one on a roster full of solid but unspectacular players.
I'd like to put my two cents in for the Oregon Ducks. Their offensive attack would be twice as dangerous when a field-stretching receiver of Farmer's ability forced the eighth man out of the box.
Where he should go: Oregon
Where he will go: USC
Five-star WR Sammy Watkins of Fort Myers, Florida, recently zoomed up Scout's prospect board all the way to the No. 3 spot for receivers.
Scout praised the two-way athlete's complete game, calling him a long-distance receiver that can also do damage in the short stuff.
Florida landed Sammy's brother, Jaylen, a cornerback, in the most recent class, and he's been considered a lock for the Gators ever since.
Does the Gators' offense suit him? We can't say for sure without picking up whatever Florida will throw down this fall.
But I can say that when Tebow wasn't getting sacked or giving up after two reads and taking off, Florida's passing game actually looked like something Watkins could make interesting.
Urban Meyer's combination of short routes in open space and go-routes downfield suits a player of Watkins varied talents. There isn't just a set speed receiver and possession receiver; players are counted on to do many things and keep the offense guessing.
If Brantley can come close or surpass Tebow's commendable accuracy and completion percentage, Watkins is the kind of player Gator fans will realize they've been missing on the outside.
Not to mention Watkins is also a receiver who could do damage if he got involved in the running/reverse/option game.
If it's going to happen anyway, sometimes it's best just to make peace with it.
Where he should go: Florida
Where he will go: Florida
In an ideal world, Davaris Daniels would join Kyle Prater in Champaign for year five of Ron Zook's decorated head coaching gig in Champaign, which featured back to back ties for the Big Ten conference crown.
Juice Williams would have closed 2009 as the Big Ten's most dangerous quarterback, and Arrelious Benn would have stayed on to provide Juice's successor with some stable weapons on the outside while the young QB adjusts to his first full year as a starter.
But there's a reason none of this is real, and why Ron Zook has "Every Day Is Another Chance To Turn It All Around" inscribed on every poster, placard, coffee cup and bourbon tumbler in his increasingly cluttered office.
It's another year, another outstanding wide receiver within reach and another chance to change Illinois' fortunes for the better.
Make good on your promise, Ron, or get run off the reservation by the ghost of Chief Illiniwek.
Where he should go: Illinois
Where he will go: mmm...Arkansas?
Peake is an exceptionally graceful receiver who uses his above-average size (6'3") to shield the ball and make difficult catches in traffic.
His top three right now are Florida, Georgia and Clemson, with the in-state Tigers getting the buzz for his final choice.
Yet he resembles Georgia's AJ Green too much for me to pass up the comparison.
Peake, like Green, is as much an every-down receiver as he is a red-zone threat.
While Green was healthy, Georgia showed they could play the go-up-and-get-it offense with the talented wide receiver to good effect. The result was 808 yards on 53 receptions and six TDs in only 10 total games.
In Clemson's defense, Green had as many touchdown receptions as Jacoby Ford, and only 30 more yards (albeit in four less contests).
But with Da'Rick Rogers defection and Green's likely departure, the Dawgs will be looking for their big-play guy in 2011.
In a tie or even a close contest, I'd pick the more prestigious conference every time.
Where he should go: Georgia
Where he will go: Clemson
In narrowing down his list of favorites to USC, Michigan State and Notre Dame, Arnett cited his longing for a "pro-style offense" to get him ready for the pros.
Well, that ship has sailed at Notre Dame. Kelly's passing system is way wonkier than anything the pros run, and Uncle Bri doesn't want to hear anything about your NFL prospects right now.
I'm tired of seeing talented receivers from the Midwest go to USC. Kyle Prater could have been a force in the Big Ten had Ron Zook actually lived up to his billing. Zook!
So, who does that leave me with?
What...what do you mean?
You mean I have to give my blessing to DeAnthony Arnett going to...East Lansing?
You mean I have to admit that the Spartans have actually gotten...pretty...good at getting receivers the ball lately?
That MSU ranked second in the Big Ten in passing offense in 2009? That Sparty aired it out to receivers like Blair White, BJ Cunningham and hotshot Keyshawn Martin to the tune of 2000 yards?
This slide will self-destruct in 10 seconds.
Where he should go: Michigan...State....
Where he will go: USC. Haters to the left!
At 6'6", Kelvin Benjamin is 2011's tallest wide receiver (um, see picture).
With athleticism and leaping ability aiding an absolute nightmare of a frame, he'll induce panic in any defensive coordinator who doesn't have a 6'8" cornerback to match up against him.
The 4-star wide receiver likes Miami's offense, and with good cause. In his first season, UM offensive coordinator Mark Whipple showed he's all about airing it out off the play-action. Benjamin has shown he's all about catching what's thrown his way. Pretty open and shut case.
Even if the Canes move more towards a balanced offense in 2010, it would be hard not to throw Benjamin's way in the redzone.
I'd love to see a senior Jacory Harris throwing to a freshman Kelvin Benjamin in the back of the endzone as the Canes storm their way to the top of the ACC and contend for a national title again. Harris and Benjamin would both be All-Americans, and neither would weigh more than 160 pounds.
Where he should go: Miami
Where he will go: Miami
I'm new to Victor Blackwell, having not profiled him for the top 2011 receivers, but his game really is elite.
He's not a physically imposing player, but he has blue-chip speed and creates space with a lot of quick moves and intelligent route-running.
He's Max Wittek's favorite target at Mater Dei high school, which spells both a package deal and a likely commitment to USC.
I would say he doesn't fit the Trojans' traditional mold, but I think we can throw out the "huge, hulking wide receiver" meme now that Lane Kiffin is at the helm. Kiffin is all about accruing the best talent, not necessarily the biggest and fastest.
Again, I wish receivers would look at the USC depth chart and think twice. But I'm more in favor of Blackwell going to USC so long as he brings Wittek along with him.
Good chemistry between former teammates at quarterback and receiver is conducive to a very successful career, and in the end, that's what's best for the athlete, regardless of the institution.
Where he should go: USC
Where he will go: USC
Kasen Williams is unquestionably the most talented receiver in this class, the only one who I can say with confidence marries speed, ball skills, and that "wow" factor you get from watching players like Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald do their thing.
If a receiver is ever to win the Heisman in the next five years, Williams is the guy.
It's imperative that Williams goes to a school that's going to throw his direction and get him in position to make plays, and not just a few times a game. He can do more than just break the big play—he can move the sticks and keep the offense rolling like Crabtree and Fitzgerald used to do.
I like him to go to Notre Dame, and think his interest in Kelly's system is well-founded. As I've repeated ad nauseum, Kelly took an undersized two-star running back and made him All-American wide receiver Mardy Gilyard.
Kelly's passing concepts stretch the field effectively enough for outside receivers to avoid facing uncomfortable double-teams.
And there's just something unfair about those Notre Dame receiving records being broken by a player on a losing team. Williams will get to town just as Kelly's system is clicking; his arrival will also get that can't-recruit monkey off Kelly's back.
Though it will mean even more trouble for my Wolverines in the secondary, Ill give it my blessing.
Where he should go: Notre Dame
Where he will go: Notre Dame