Projecting Every Conference's Best WR Corps for the 2022 CFB SeasonJune 22, 2022
Projecting Every Conference's Best WR Corps for the 2022 CFB Season
Short of the starting quarterback, wide receivers are often the most recognizable players on a team. After all, much of a team's offensive production is reflected in their stats.
Looking ahead to the 2022 college football season, B/R is projecting the best positional units in each Football Bowl Subdivision conference. This is the third version of our offseason series, and the receiving corps are entering the spotlight.
The list is subjective but based on returning production—which includes transfers—and expected performance. Tight ends are not factored into the choices.
Previous editions covered the offensive and defensive lines.
American: Houston Cougars
Houston's depth is valuable, but this conversation simply must begin with Nathaniel Dell.
Last season, he racked up 90 receptions for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those totals respectively ranked joint-13th, 12th and joint-eighth in the country.
The supporting cast includes a trio of notable transfers, along with blue-chip freshman Matthew Golden. KeSean Carter, who previously played at Texas Tech, caught 26 passes prior to a season-ending injury last year. Houston added Sam Brown (West Virginia) and Joseph Manjack IV (USC) this offseason, too.
Together with quarterback Clayton Tune, this receiving room should be a major reason Houston contends for an AAC crown.
ACC: Virginia Cavaliers
After losing several transfers, Virginia needs to restock the offensive line. But if the Cavaliers can settle that group and provide some reliable pass protection, this receiving corps can take over games.
Dontayvion Wicks recorded 57 catches for 1,203 yards—a stellar 21.1-yard average—and nine touchdowns. Keytaon Thompson (78/990/2) and Billy Kemp IV (75/742/6) were high-volume producers, too.
As if a reinforcement is needed, he's here anyway.
Lavel Davis Jr. put up 20 receptions for 515 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in 2020, but he missed 2021 because of a torn ACL. Based on the typical recovery, Davis should be healthy in time for the season.
Brennan Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards last season, and it would almost be surprising if he didn't surpass that in 2022.
Big 12: Texas Longhorns
Xavier Worthy emerged as one of the nation's top true freshmen in 2021, reeling in 62 passes for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Rather importantly, though, Texas upgraded the rest of the unit.
Jordan Whittington (26/377/2) is the No. 2 returning wideout, and he's a nice complementary piece. However, his impact may grow thanks to the arrival of Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor, who made 44 receptions for 878 yards and 12 scores last season.
For good measure, the Longhorns picked up Iowa State transfer Tarique Milton. He didn't have a great 2021 but is only a couple of years removed from a 700-yard season.
Texas will be judged primarily on its win-loss record, of course, but the pass-catching talent is promising.
Big Ten: Ohio State Buckeyes
Maryland's receiving corps has a very strong case as the best in the Big Ten. The quartet of Dontay Demus, Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones and Florida transfer Jacob Copeland is potentially an elite group.
But will they produce as much as Ohio State's group will?
That question has us leaning toward the Buckeyes—and, in particular, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He shared the field with two first-round NFL draft picks yet amassed 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns.
Plus, the Rose Bowl provided an early look at Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, who combined for 14 catches, 152 yards and three touchdowns on the day. The short version is that's a high-upside group.
Smith-Njigba and the youth infusion figure to have C.J. Stroud in the Heisman Trophy picture once again.
C-USA: UTSA Roadrunners
UTSA fans are anxious to see this encore.
Last season, the Roadrunners put together the best season in school history with a 12-2 record and Conference USA championship. They boasted one of the league's top three offenses, too.
Although the backfield needs to replace star runner Sincere McCormick, the passing game is almost entirely intact for signal-caller Frank Harris.
Zakhari Franklin (81/1,027/12), Joshua Cephus (71/819/6) and De'Corian Clark (52/755/7) each return. UTSA leaned heavily on that trio, but top backups Tykee Ogle-Kellogg and Tre'Von Bradley are back, too.
Expect another high-scoring year from the UTSA offense.
MAC: Eastern Michigan Eagles
Do they have a quarterback? That's the major concern for Eastern Michigan after Ben Bryant returned to Cincinnati.
But the Eagles certainly have receivers.
Hassan Beydoun ranked seventh nationally with 97 catches and crossed the 1,000-yard barrier, while Dylan Drummond (64/704/6) led the team in touchdowns. Tanner Knue has just 11 appearances in two shortened seasons (pandemic and injury), yet he's totaled 59 receptions, 755 yards and five touchdowns.
Zach Westmoreland (17/293/1) and Oregon State transfer I'Shawn Stewart are key backups to know.
In all likelihood, former Missouri and Troy quarterback Taylor Powell will get the first shot. This group of targets should give him a great chance to play well immediately.
Mountain West: Fresno State Bulldogs
Fresno State won 10 games in 2021, and the 2022 squad is very likely to make a run at a league title.
Star quarterback Jake Haener, who threw for 4,096 yards and 33 touchdowns, will have a host of familiar pass-catching weapons surrounding him.
Jalen Cropper (85/899/9) and Josh Kelly (52/778/3) highlight the unit, but there's plenty of depth behind them. Zane Pope is a multiyear contributor, while one-time Washington transfer Ty Jones and Eric Brooks are solid fourth and fifth options.
There probably won't be a more threatening offense in the Mountain West this season.
Pac-12: USC Trojans
Even following the departure of superstar Drake London, USC had a decent foundation. Tahj Washington (54/602/1) and Gary Bryant Jr. (44/579/7) are both quality, experienced receivers.
But now, the Trojans are loaded.
They swiped Pitt transfer Jordan Addison, the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner who tallied 100 catches for 1,593 yards and an FBS-high 17 touchdowns last season.
USC also brought in Oklahoma's Mario Williams (35/380/4), Washington's Terrell Bynum (26/436/4) and Colorado's Brenden Rice (21/299/3).
At least on paper, the Trojans have the country's top blend of star power and proven depth in 2022.
SEC: Alabama Crimson Tide
When the 2021 season ended, Alabama's receiving corps was a reasonable concern.
Prolific duo Jameson Williams and John Metchie III both headed to the NFL, along with Slade Bolden. While the Crimson Tide always have plenty of talent, they lacked experience. So, they found it in the transfer portal.
Alabama swiped Jermaine Burton (26/497/5) from Georgia and Tyler Harrell (18/523/6) from Louisville.
Alongside the transfers will be Iron Bowl hero Ja'Corey Brooks, JoJo Earle and Traeshon Holden. They served as rotational backups to Williams, Metchie and Bolden last season.
If the Tide can settle the offensive line, the receiving talent is in place for quarterback Bryce Young to secure a second Heisman Trophy.
Sun Belt: Marshall Thundering Herd
The final conference doubles as the toughest choice.
Old Dominion's Ali Jennings III is probably the league's top wideout, but ODU's depth at the position is suspect. Arkansas State has respectable depth but lost breakout freshman Corey Rucker to South Carolina. The theme of "one, not the other" is common in the league.
Sun Belt newcomer Marshall, however, lands an ever-so-slight edge because of its potential.
Corey Gammage (78/869/2) is on the verge of becoming a star, while Shadeed Ahmed (38/463/3), Jayden Harrison (24/269/2) and Talik Keaton (19/268/2) are experienced. Recent transfer Bryan Robinson, who dealt with a string of injuries at Florida State, offers high upside as a one-time coveted recruit, too.
The pieces need to come together, but Marshall has an intriguing group for 2022.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.