Big 12 Football: Justin Blackmon and the Top 10 Receivers in the Conference
When it comes to receiving talent, there's no conference in college football better than the Big 12.
The Big 12 welcomes back all of the receivers from the 2010 all-conference squad. The top-three Big 12 receivers would easily be the best receivers in any other conference in the nation.
There are All-Americans, emerging youngsters, and a Biletnikoff Award winner on this star-studded list. In a conference where almost every team runs the spread, there's no shortage of big numbers and high-end offensive talent.
Let's take a look at the top ten receivers in the Big 12 conference.
10. Alexander Torres—Texas Tech
Texas Tech junior wide receiver Alex Torres has the tough job of replacing departed stars Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, but he has the ability to become one of the conference's top receivers in 2011.
Torres was the slot receiver in the pass-happy Red Raider offense this past season. He followed a breakout freshman year with a bit of a sophomore slump in 2010.
Torres caught 39 passes for 481 yards and three touchdowns for the 2010 Red Raiders battling injuries here and there. Torres will be the team's top option and relied on heavily by new starting quarterback Seth Doege.
There's always a Texas Tech receiver in the upper echelon of the Big 12 receiving charts and Alex Torres looks like that guy this upcoming season.
9. Josh Cooper—Oklahoma St.
The unheralded wide receiver in the Oklahoma St. offense, senior Josh Cooper quietly had a solid 2010 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Cooper benefits from playing in OSU's air-raid offense, but he showed great toughness and hands as the team's slot receiver and forced defenses to pay attention to him. Cooper had 68 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
He returns for his final season in 2011 with a loaded Cowboy offense primed for a Big 12 title run. Look for Josh Cooper to build upon his 2010 success that landed him in the top 10 of the Big 12 receiving charts.
8. Josh Gordon—Baylor
Drawing favorable comparisons to Texas A&M standout Jeff Fuller, Baylor junior wide receiver Josh Gordon looks like the next big-time playmaker in the conference.
Gordon was a pleasant surprise for the Bears in 2010. He's an imposing 6'4", 220 pounds and deep threat with a knack for big catches. Averaging over 17 yards per catch last season, Gordon had 42 receptions for 714 yards and seven touchdowns.
Gordon has recently been suspended by the team indefinitely, which could hinder his growth in 2011. But if he can find his way onto the field, Josh Gordon could provide a big target for star quarterback Robert Griffin and the upstart Baylor Bears.
7. Kenny Stills—Oklahoma
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As a true freshman last season, Oklahoma wide receiver Kenny Stills showed fans why he's the next great pass catcher in Norman, Oklahoma.
Playing opposite of superstar Ryan Broyles, the freshman standout showed impressive ball skills and agility in the 2010 Sooner offense. Stills grabbed 61 balls for 786 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2010.
Stills is the heir apparent to Oklahoma's top wide receiver slot looking ahead. With Landry Jones at quarterback in 2011, look for Kenny Stills to haul in huge numbers and climb up the list of the Big 12's best receivers.
6. Ryan Swope—Texas A&M
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Following along the line of complimentary receivers on this list, Texas A&M junior Ryan Swope showed why he's one of the emerging players in the Big 12 this past season.
He handled the midseason quarterback change to Ryan Tannehill quite well and impressed fans with his poise and efficiency. He tied for the team lead in receptions (72) and scampered for 825 receiving yards and a quartet of touchdowns (that's four).
Look for Ryan Swope to continue his ascent amongst the conference's elite at wide receiver.
5. T.J. Moe—Missouri
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Missouri junior receiver T.J. Moe made quite a splash in his first starting season for the Tigers.
After an 11-catch performance in the season opener, Moe never looked back on his way to becoming the top receiver for Missouri. As quarterback Blaine Gabbert's favorite target, Moe hauled in 92 receptions for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns.
The slot receiver showed no regard for his body over the middle, displaying a toughness equivalent to a middle linebacker in some games. He ranked in the top four in every major receiving category for Big 12 players in 2010.
T.J. Moe will lead an experienced Tigers receiving corps and work to improve on his breakout sophomore campaign in 2011.
4. Kendall Wright—Baylor
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Baylor senior receiver Kendall Wright was the top target for quarterback Robert Griffin last season and returns for his final season as one of the top playmakers in the Big 12.
Wright, who will likely be the school's all-time leading receiver at season's end, was the shoulder that the Baylor passing game leaned on when they needed a big play. He has had a very solid career in Waco, Texas, including last season's 78 catch, 952-yard season for seven touchdowns.
Kendall Wright is the school's most accomplished receiver looking to take the team to a second consecutive bowl game in 2011.
3. Jeff Fuller—Texas A&M
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Only in the Big 12 would Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller be considered the third best receiver in the league.
Fuller is a physical stud (6'4", 215 pounds) with a rumored sub 4.5 40 yard dash time. Facing double teams every week of the season, he grabbed 72 passes for 1,066 yards and a whopping 12 touchdowns.
Fuller is viewed as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick going into the season and leads a loaded receiving corps in College Station.
He pairs up with starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill with what should be an explosive 2011 season with the Aggies.
2. Ryan Broyles—Oklahoma
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Oklahoma senior receiver Ryan Broyles looks to cap a brilliant Sooner career with a bang this upcoming season.
Broyles is the biggest weapon in the conference, returning kicks and punts as well as starting at wide receiver. He's recorded some eye-popping numbers in his three-year college career. Last season, Broyles had a ridiculous 131 receptions for 1,622 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
In addition, Broyles looks to capture the school's all-time receiving mark this season after racking up 3,429 career yards and 35 touchdowns.
Oklahoma is the odds-on favorite to win the national championship, and receiver Ryan Broyles is a big reason why.
1. Justin Blackmon—Oklahoma St.
With all due respect to Ryan Broyles, there's no doubt that Oklahoma St's Justin Blackmon is the best receiver in the conference and also the best receiver in the nation.
Last year at this time, Blackmon was just another receiver in a spread offense. One year later, he's the returning Biletnikoff winner and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year for a star-studded Cowboy team.
Blackmon exploded onto the college scene in 2010. He didn't drop a single pass and snagged 111 passes for a nation-leading 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. That's over 16 yards per catch in a 100 catch season.
Brandon Weeden teams up with Blackmon again in 2011 as the star receiver is primed for another fantastic season and a future first round selection in the NFL Draft.