Since 2000 college football has produce perhaps the best crop of receivers over a 10 year span ever. The new wide-open style of college football has allowed receivers to showcase their talent at the highest level. This is a very high-profile list and a few very very good receivers failed to make the list. It is based on career achievements as well as how dominant they were, even if its just a year. While someone may have better stats they might not have impacted the game as much, however it is noted that a solid and consistent career should be rewarded too. Here is the list of the 25 best of the 21st century to date:
Perhaps one of the most successful receivers from the Steve Spurrier era at Florida. He is known for his sure hands and precise route running. Not gifted the most athletically, he never dropped much and was one of the most feared offensive weapons for the Gators from 1999-2001. His two biggest years were:
2000: 71 receptions 1,184 yards and 14 touchdowns
2001: 67 receptions 1,191 yards and 13 touchdowns
Maclin was one of the most versatile players in college football in his two years at Missouri. Not only was he an elite returner but also an elite receiver. Playing with Chase Daniels at the helm Maclin would have been the top receiver in the Big XII if it weren't for Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant. As Daniels favorite target Maclin collected this stat line for his time at Mizzou
2007: 80 receptions 1,055 yards and 9 touchdowns
2008: 102 receptions 1,260 yards and 13 touchdowns
Cotchery was a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and finished behind Torry Holt as the schools best receiver in terms of total receiving yards. Cotchery was the beneficiary of having stud Phillip Rivers as his quarterback.He still currently ranks 33rd in career receiving yards. His lack of production in the end zone keeps him from being higher on this list.
2002: 67 receptions 1,192 yards and 7 touchdowns
2003: 86 receptions 1,369 yards and 10 touchdowns
The most underrated Williams' in the 2002 season (Roy and Andre) Reggie Williams put up killer stats at Washington. He was a top receiver for both the 2002 and 2003 seasons putting up well over 1,000 yards. Had his teams been more competitive he would have gotten more press about his abilities.
2002: 89 receptions 1,109 yards and 8 touchdowns
2003: 94 receptions 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns
Tate was one of a two receiver tandem with Michael Floyd that terrorized defenses that faced the Fighting Irish. Tate won the Biletnikoff Award his final year at Notre Dame where he clearly posted his best season. He caught for over 1,000 yards twice and was selected 60th overall by the Seattle Seahawks
2008: 55 receptions 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns
2009: 93 receptions 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns
Grice-Mullen was the most accomplished at the collegiate level of the "dread-heads" of Hawaii's offensive attack. He lead the team in receptions his senior season and helped get them to the Sugar Bowl. Although he never made it to the NFL he had two seasons of well over 1,000 yards and probably would have had three if it wasn't for his injury-shortened season in 2006.
2005: 85 receptions 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns
2006: 46 receptions 770 yards and 11 touchdowns
2007: 106 receptions 1,372 and 13 touchdowns
One of the few small-school receivers to make the list. He had an outstanding career at New Mexico State. Him and Chase Holbrook teamed up for one of the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandems in their time as Aggies. He was small in stature but played big. He never stuck to an NFL roster but was two time all first team WAC. He would have had 3 stellar seasons if it weren't for his injury-riddled 2007 season.
2006: 92 receptions 1,415 yards and 12 touchdowns
2007 (in 8 games): 56 receptions 772 yards and 11 touchdowns
2008: 86 receptions 1,271 yards and 9 touchdowns
I expect this selection to draw the most heat as people will likely say he should be much higher. Roy Williams was a beast in college and one of 3 players from the University of Texas that I actually like. Williams was one of biggest deep ball threats in college and was a man among boys in terms of his size and speed. He was an all Big XII selection 3 times. His stats weren't stellar (mostly because of the QB situation at UT at the time) but it shouldn't take away from his overall ability. If he could have put together two amazing seasons he would have been in the top 10 most likely.
2000: 40 receptions 809 yards and 8 toucdhowns
2001: 67 receptions 836 yards and 7 touchdowns
2002: 64 receptions 1,142 yards and 12 touchdowns
Jeff Samardzija, a two sport athlete who excelled at both, and might have been a better wide receiver than a pitcher. He was on one of the most potent Notre Dame offenses, with Brady Quinn at the helm, and was Quinn's favorite target. He was an All-American two times, making first team his senior year.
2005: 77 receptions 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns
2006: 78 receptions 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns
It was unfortunate that Dez Bryant's career at Oklahoma State was cut short. He took the country by storm in 2008. Had it not been for Michael Crabtree he would have been the most dominant receiver in the Big XII that year. He earned all american honors and First team Big XII honors as a sophomore. Bryant was then drafted in the first round by the Cowboys in 09.
2007: 43 receptions 622 yards and 6 touchdowns
2008: 87 receptions 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns
Lee Evans was an amazingly talented receiver on a team that ran the ball more often than not. For the most part Evans was the only receiving threat and he always came through. Although he was not big he still managed to put up big numbers. He caught for over 1,000 yards twice despite the ineptness of his quarterbacks. He caught for 258 yards and five touchdowns against Michigan State in 2003.
2001: 75 receptions 1,545 yards and 9 touchdowns
2003: 64 receptions 1,213 and 13 touchdowns
Julio Jones was a highly touted recruit and he didn't disappoint at Alabama. His stats are not up to part with some people on this list but he was immensely talented and was the focal point of many people's gameplan. He won All-American honors his junior year while finally grabbing for more than 1,000 yards. He helped Alabama win a national title in 2009 and was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the number six pick.
2009: 43 receptions 596 yards and 4 touchdowns
2010: 78 receptions 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns
I couldn't even find a picture from him at Utah State, that's how under the radar Curtis went. His blazing speed allowed him to dominate the WAC where he received first team honors twice. Curtis transferred from a Junior College and had to walk-on to Utah State. Once given the chance he dominated the WAC with two 1,000 yard years.
2001: 100 receptions 1,531 yards and 10 touchdowns
2002: 74 receptions 1,258 yards and 9 toucdowns
Josh Reed originally came to LSU as a running back and then made the transition to receiver his junior year. He then took the league by storm and became LSU's top receiving threat. He had two years of 1,000 plus yards and earned All-American honors his senior year. He also was All-SEC both years.
2000: 65 receptions 1,127 yards and 10 touchowns
2001: 94 receptions 1,740 yards and 7 touchdowns
Despite his lack of production in the NFL, Jarrett was one of the best in the NCAA period, not just for this decade. He was a two-time All-American as well as having records at USC in multiple receiving categories. He had big shoes to fill as he was taking the spot of Mike Williams. He was Matt Leinart's favorite target, especially in the red zone, and helped them win an Orange Bowl and get to the national title game in 2005.
2004: 55 receptions 849 yards and 13 touchdowns
2005: 91 receptions 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns
2006: 70 receptions 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns
Greg Jennings went to Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. He racked up 3 10 toucdown and 1,000 yard seasons and despite his production was overlooked by many teams going into the draft, except by the shrewd Packers. In 2005 he won the MAC offensive player of the year award. He holds multiple Western Michigan records and at the time was the 11th receiver to record 3 1,000 yard seasons.
2003: 56 receptions 1,050 yards and 14 touchdowns
2004:74 receptions 1,092 yards and 11 touchdowns
2005: 98 receptions 1,259 yards and 14 touchdowns
Jarett Dillard accomplished what many people from Rice had not, getting national recognition. Dillard is so high on this list because despite his small stature he racked up 3 1,000 yard seasons and 2 20 touchdown seasons, an amazing feat. He was an All-American in 2006 and 2008, the first Rice player in 50 years to be named to the elite list. In 2008 he was a Biletnekoff finalist with the likes of Dez Bryant and Michael Crabtree.
2006: 91 receptions 1,247 yards and 21 touchdowns
2007: 79 receptions 1,057 yards and 14 touchdowns
2008: 87 receptions 1,310 yards and 20 touchdowns
Rashaun woods could flat out ball. He was the number one receiver for Oklahoma State for 3 years and still holds multiple records as a Cowboy and in the Big XII. Woods was a two time All-American. He ranks fourth in NCAA history in career touchdowns and is most likely known for his video-game like game against SMU where he recorded 293 yards and 7 (not a typo) touchdowns.
2003: 77receptions 1,367 yards and 15 touchdowns
Despite of not living up to the hype in the NFL, Charles Rogers was an elite receiver in college. He broke multiple records and Michigan State and Randy Moss' record of consecutive games with a touchdown (Jarett Dillard has that record now). He caught for 10 touchdowns and 1,000 yards two consecutive years/. He went to the Lions in the first round.
2001: 57 receptions 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns
2002: 68 receptions 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns
Perhaps one of the most physically talented receivers to ever play the game, Andre Johnson tore it up on the field. Despite inconsistent QB play from Ken Dorsey Johnson sitll managed over 1,000 yards his final year at Miami. He was the MVP of the 2002 Rose bowl. He ranks 5th at Miami in total touchdowns for a career. No cornerback could handle Andre one on one, and today he considered the first or second best receiver in the game.
2001: 37 receptions 682 yards 10 touchdowns
A truly dominant receiver in college, Edwards racked up 3 straight seasons of 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing at the highest level of competition in the Big Ten. He holds multiple Big Ten records for a season and also many University of Michigan records. He won the Biletnikoff award, Big Ten offensive MVP and was a consensus All-American his senior year
2002: 67 receptions 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns
2003: 85 receptions 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns
2004: 97 receptions 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns
What is there to say about Calvin "Megatron" Johnson? This catch pretty much sums it up. He is big, fast and has amazing hands. Despite having Reggie Ball at QB for most of his time at Georgia Tech, and being the only receiving threat on the team, he managed to put up gaudy numbers. He won the Biletnikoff, was named an All-American and was the ACC player of the year in 2006. Also a 3 time All-ACC selection.
2004: 48 receptions 837yards and 7 touchdowns
2005: 54 receptions 888 yards and 6 touchdowns
2006: 76 receptions 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns
Although he only played two years at USC Mike Williams put on a show. He helped USC win a title and holds multiple records for the Pac 10 and USC. He was a two time All-Pac 10 as well as first team All-American. He finished 8th in the heisman voting his sophomore year.
81 receptions 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns
95 receptions 1,314 and 16 touchdowns
Larry Fitzgerald might have the best hands of any wide receiver to ever play the game. He only played two years at Pitt but in his second year he put up one of the best seasons for a receiver ever. It is arguable that Fitz was snubbed from the Heisman voting for the less than awe-inspiring Jason White of Oklahoma. He holds the NCAA record with 18 games win a touchdown/ He won the Walter Camp award (best college football player) in 2003. He also holds numerous records for Pitt and is not doing a bad job in the NFL either.
2002: 69 receptions 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns
2003: 92 receptions 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns
Michael Crabtree may have put on the most dominant performance by a receiver in NCAA history, in terms of just pure stats, domination and at the highest level of competition. The only player to win the Biletnikoff award twice, and the only two years he played in college. He was a two-time First team All-Big XII and All-American as well as finishing 5th in the Heisman voting in 2008. In 2008 he played the last four games with a severely sprained ankle that kept him from amassing even more shocking stats. He also made one of the greatest plays in recent college football history against number one UT.
2007: 134 receptions 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns
2008: 97 receptions 1165yards and 19 touchdowns