1) Miami - The Hurricanes have a solid combination of size and speed at wide receiver this season. Sophomore Lance Leggett heads the talented group. Leggett is an outstanding deep threat. He averaged 20.5 yards per reception last season. Junior Ryan Moore is expected to be much improved over last season. Moore passes the eye test, but he lacked production on the field. He had his best spring since enrolling at Miami. Sinorice Moss and Darnell Jenkins are smaller, but they bring a fair amount of explosiveness to the ‘Canes short passing game. Do not forget Miami will throw the ever dangerous Devin Hester in the mix at wide receiver. Hester is one of the best playmakers in college football.
2) Virginia Tech - This young group of receivers oozes with talent. The Hokies are set for the next two years at wide receivers. Junior David Clowney is joined by an outstanding trio of sophomores. Josh Hyman, Josh Morgan, and Eddie Royal elevated the Hokies’ passing game last season as true freshmen, and they were a big reason the Hokies won the ACC title perhaps a year ahead of schedule. Royal, Clowney, and Hyman all run sub 4.4 forties making life very difficult on opposing secondaries. Royal not only can stretch a defense vertically, but he is an exceptional runner in the open field. This talented group will make life much easier on Marcus Vick.
3) North Carolina - There are questions at quarterback for the Tar Heels, but there is very little uncertainty about who will be catching the ball. Jarwarski Pollock is one of the top returning receivers in the conference. Pollock is a speedster, who seemingly gets open on any route he runs. North Carolina has a nice group of receivers to compliment Pollock. Juniors Jesse Holley and Mike Mason will be the top targets beside Pollock. Holley is a big physical target, who is also the best blocker of the group. Mason is all about speed. Mason really turned heads, when he torched Antrel Rolle for a touchdown in UNC’s upset of Miami. Derrele Mitchell is another big target senior quarterback Matt Baker will have at his disposal. In short, Darian Durant put up good numbers last season, but he had a solid group of wide receivers who were seemingly overlooked.
4) Georgia Tech - Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the country. The talent around Johnson is not great, but Johnson more than makes up for what is missing. Simply, Johnson will demand more attention from defensive coordinators than any other offensive player in the ACC. At 6-4 225, he can go up over defensive backs, and he also has good speed to get behind them. NFL scouts are counting down the days until Johnson is available to be picked. Senior Damarius Bilbo is expected to lighten some of the pressure off of Johnson. For the first time in his career, Bilbo can focus on one position and use his athletic ability to his advantage. Junior Xavier McGuire and redshirt freshman James Johnson are listed as the backups on the two deep.
5) Florida State - The Seminoles lost their top three receivers to graduation. There is a group of talented wide receivers ready to step up in their place, but the inexperience prevented the Noles from being ranked higher. Willie Reid must become the go to target for the Seminoles. Reid has very dependable hands and is difficult to tackle in the open field, but he has a tendency to be banged up. Chris Davis may be the breakout name this year for the Florida State. The outstanding playmaker is 100% recovered from an ACL tear that had limited his career up to this point. Davis reminds many of Peter Warrick, and he will have his chance to shine this season. Florida State will have three bigger targets at their disposal as well. Sophomore Decody Fagg and true freshmen Gregg Carr and Fred Rouse give the Seminoles the taller receivers they have not had on the outside. Also, redshirt freshman Kenny O’Neal has blazing speed to stretch defenses.
6) NC State - The Wolfpack appeared to have a solid trio returning at wide receiver, but Richard Washington’s dismissal leaves some question marks. Tramain Hall and Sterling Hicks are the most talented and experienced receivers returning. Hall is used as a slot back, and State loves to set him up on the bubble screen. Hall’s vision is perhaps his most dangerous attribute. It is rare he misses an opening in the defense. Hicks was still recovering from an ACL tear last season, and he only saw minimal action. Hicks had 37 receptions as a true freshman. Lamart Barrett adds speed to the mix and will likely improve on his 24 receptions from a year ago. Expect true freshmen Levin Neal and JC Neal to see the field immediately for the Wolfpack.
7) Clemson - There is nothing but question marks at wide receiver for Clemson. There is a lot of unproven talent. Chansi Stuckey, when healthy, is the team’s best receiver. Stuckey has good hands and is dangerous after the catch, but struggled with injuries last season. Kelvin Grant could be as good as any receiver in the ACC. Grant has strictly been held back by his own actions. Grant had a solid spring for Clemson, but he is on a very short lease heading into the fall. Sophomore La’Donte Harris and redshirt freshman Aaron Kelly were the stories of the spring. Both showed good playmaking ability, but neither has proven they can be counted on in game situations. Veteran Curtis Baham was having a solid spring before sitting out a majority of spring practice with an ankle injury. Baham is solid possession receiver and should prove to be a reliable target for Charlie Whitehurst . Freshman Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham will likely avoid redshirts and add depth to a questionable group of receivers.
8) Wake Forest - Jason Anderson must be replaced, but he was injured last year allowing some younger receivers to get valuable experience. Junior Nate Morton stepped in as the go-to-guy. Morton is big, fast (4.3), and physical. He could emerge as a star in his junior year. Chris Davis and Willie Idlette add experience and playmaking to the receiving corps. Idlette is often used as a decoy to set up the misdirection. Sophomore Kevin Marion adds more speed to one of the fastest receiving corps in the conference.
9) Virginia - The Cavaliers will get back there top receiving target in Ottowa Anderson. Anderson missed last season due to being academically ineligible. This is not a deep group of wide receivers. Anderson had more catches two seasons ago, than all of the other receivers on the roster combined for last season. Virginia uses their running backs out of the backfield a great deal, but there is simply no one who can stretch the field vertically. Expect incoming freshmen Brandon Woods and Maurice Covington to hit the field immediately with the Wahoos.
10) Boston College - Will Blackmon made the move to wide receiver in the spring. He had been a two way threat for the Eagles, but he will now focus solely on receiver. Blackmon has very good open field running skills, and he will quickly become the Eagles top target. Larry Lester is the Eagles top returning wide receiver, and he will benefit from having defenses focus on Blackmon. Lester posted 35 receptions in only eight games last season. The rest of the production will come from an unproven group of receivers.
11) Duke - Ronnie Elliot is a solid playmaker for the Blue Devils. Elliot was a high school state champion in track. He will provide stability at receiver for the Blue Devils. Duke is excited about sophomores Jomar Wright and Chancellor Young. Wright led the Blue Devils in receiving yards in 2004 with 323. Young was a solid special teams performer, and he will get his chance at wideout in 2005.
12) Maryland - The Terrapins have a group of receivers, who are fast but undersized. Derrick Fenner and Jo Jo Walker are the veterans of the group. Neither have shown the ability to become a go to receiver. Halfback Vernon Davis is the teams top returning receiver. True freshman Darrius Heyward-Bey will likely see the field this year and could be an impact player. He has good size at 6-4, and he runs a sub 4.5 forty.