Ranking the Best Wide Receivers in College Football This Season

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2019

Ranking the Best Wide Receivers in College Football This Season

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Quarterbacks always attract the most attention in college football, but the best signal-callers right now have a tremendous wide receiver shredding secondaries in 2019.

    To the surprise of approximately zero people, last year's first-team AP All-AmericansJerry Jeudy and Tylan Wallaceremain the class of the nation. Rondale Moore, a 2018 breakout star, is having the productive start to the campaign most anticipated, too.

    But the new class of top targets has a couple of unfamiliar names.

    The factors in the order of these rankings include individual production, impact on team success and production against top opponents.

10. Rondale Moore, Purdue

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    2019 stats (three games): 27 receptions, 369 yards, two TDs

    Rondale Moore started 2019 right where he ended 2018: making defenses look silly.

    The versatile weapon collected 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown at Nevada and then ripped Vanderbilt for 220 yards and a score on 13 receptions. He racked up 154 of those 220 yards in the final quarter alone, helping Purdue earn a 42-24 win.

    "Rondale Moore is as good as advertised," Vandy coach Derek Mason said, per David Woods of the Indianapolis Star. "Their key guy made plays in critical situations. And what's what good players do."

    Though a quiet day against TCU drops Moore to No. 10, Purdue had to play a backup quarterback against an elite defense. Given the context, we're not going to penalize him harshly.

9. Devin Duvernay, Texas

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    2019 stats (four games): 39 receptions, 377 yards, four TDs

    The nation's leader in catches entering Week 5, Devin Duvernay has morphed from a complementary piece to Texas' featured target.

    Prior to 2019, the senior's single-game high was six catches. So far, he's secured nine, 12, six and 12 receptions, with 154 yards opposite LSU and 108 against Oklahoma State.

    Although four games is a relatively small sample, Duvernay is on pace to break Jordan Shipley's single-season reception record (116) for Texas. Shipley's yardage mark (1,485) is probably safe, but Duvernay would record the second-most yards by reaching 1,189.

    Considering how well Sam Ehlinger has orchestrated the offense, both numerical targets are entirely plausible for Duvernay.

8. Easop Winston Jr., Washington State

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    2019 stats (four games): 26 receptions, 348 yards, eight TDs

    Among all receivers in the FBS, no player deserves the "touchdown machine" label more than Easop Winston Jr. right now.

    Washington State's top target has reached the end zone in every game, including four touchdowns against UCLA. Despite the loss, Winston accumulated 114 yards on a career-high 10 catches.

    Since the Cougs have a deep rotation, Winston's yardage output likely won't be overwhelming. But the program's single-season record of 15 touchdowns is certainly within reach.

7. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

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    2019 stats (four games): 16 receptions, 350 yards, four TDs; one carry, 75 yards, one TD

    Over the last decade, only one player has ever recorded at least five runs or receptions of 70-plus yards in a single season. It happened when Khalil Tate burst onto the national scene in 2017.

    Henry Ruggs III has a terrific chance at becoming the second.

    The speedster took a screen (on a pass that went backward, officially making it a rushing attempt) 75 yards against New Mexico State. He caught a slant and burned South Carolina for 81 yards. He scorched Southern Miss for a 74-yard reception. All three were touchdowns.

    Ruggs isn't a high-volume weapon, but few players in the country are more dangerous than him.

6. Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

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    2019 stats (four games): 20 receptions, 304 yards, six TDs

    Terrace Marshall Jr. made a minimal impact as a freshman with only 12 receptions for 192 yards and zero touchdowns. Four games into 2019, the sophomore is already smashed those numbers.

    Disappointingly, though, LSU has to press pause on a breakout year.

    According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, Marshall underwent foot surgery and will be sidelined for a few weeks.

    "Yeah, that's a tough one for us," quarterback Joe Burrow said, per Glenn Guilbeau of the Daily Advertiser. "He's having a really, really good start to the season. But I know he's going to shake back. He's going to come back as fast as he can. He's a super tough guy."

5. Sage Surratt, Wake Forest

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    2019 stats (four games): 30 receptions, 484 yards, five TDs

    Wake Forest has quietly opened the season 4-0, and much of the credit goes to the Jamie Newman-Sage Surratt connection.

    Newman, a junior quarterback, is averaging 319.5 yards per game with 12 total scores and only two interceptions. He's developed a productive rapport with Surratt, who has caught a touchdown in every game and cracked the 100-yard barrier three times.

    The 6'3" redshirt sophomore set a Wake Forest record with 157 yards in the first half against North Carolinaincidentally, opposite his brother Chazz, a junior safety.

4. Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

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    Marianna Massey/Getty Images

    2019 stats (three games): 20 receptions, 397 yards, five TDs

    The remarkable transformation of LSU's offense wouldn't be happening without top-level talent like Ja'Marr Chase.

    A top-100 prospect in the 2018 class, Chase caught a touchdown in the opener and then shredded Texas for eight catches and 147 yards. After not playing against Northwestern State, he overwhelmed Vanderbilt with 10 receptions, 229 yards and four scores.

    "'Wow,' I said on the headset," head coach Ed Orgeron recalled after the Vanderbilt game, per Glenn Guilbeau of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. "That's called recruiting. We knew he was an excellent player."

    And this year, it's becoming perfectly clear.

3. Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty

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    Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press

    2019 stats (four games): 24 receptions, 544 yards, four TDs

    Antonio Gandy-Golden is poised to rewrite Liberty's record books.

    Heading into Week 5, he boasts career totals of 185 receptions, 2,962 yards and 27 touchdowns. Darrin Peterson holds all the current records with 215 catches for 3,170 yards and 27 scores. Based on Gandy-Golden's hot start, those marks should all fall.

    The senior has a trio of 100-yard gamesnotably, a 119-yard day opposite Syracuseand back-to-back two-touchdown showings. His 544 yards lead all FBS receivers.

    Barring injury, it's safe to say Gandy-Golden will be the gold standard of Liberty wideouts by the end of 2019.

2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

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    2019 stats (four games): 30 receptions, 404 yards, six TDs

    While he's not as explosive as Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy has a different strength: He's an absolutely clinical route-runner.

    That excellence has showed up every week, beginning with a 10-catch showing in the season-opening win over Duke. Jeudy has already scored six touchdowns in 2019, vaulting him to second place on the program list for career scores with 22.

    "Jerry is a smart player. He plays hard," Alabama coach Nick Saban said, per Kirk McNair of 247Sports. "He's got a good understanding of the offense, and he has a good understanding of what people do to try and stop him on defense."

    Jeudy will likely be a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, the trophy given to the nation's top receiverwhich he won in 2018.

1. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State

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    2019 stats (four games): 20 receptions, 473 yards, six TDs

    After managing 118 total yards as a freshman, Wallace nearly matched that mark with his 2018 average. He provided 114.7 yards per game on a pretty average Oklahoma State team.

    Although the jury remains out on the 2019 squad, the junior is edging his sophomore average so far.

    Wallace has 473 yards through four games, which places him at 118.3 per contest. He's grabbed five passes in each outing, maxing out at 180 yards and three touchdowns against McNeese State. Most impressively, he's averaging 23.7 yards per catch.

    Oklahoma State probably won't be a real contender in the Big 12, but Wallace and running back Chuba Hubbard give the Pokes a dynamic duo to propel an improving offense.

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