Today, we take a look at the SEC’s top 10 wide receivers/tight ends:
10) Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Hiding behind AJ Green, Charles had a great freshman season at UGA. He and QB Aaron Murray were high school teammates and friends and still are. Add that to the fact that they’re both very good and you’ve got trouble. For a tight end, Charles is extremely versatile. He reminds me in some ways of Aaron Hernandez. He is really nothing more than a great receiver playing tight end: his moves, speed and hands are that of a wideout. Look for him to step up and replace Green as Murray’s top target, and snag the Mackey Award for best tight end.
9) Marquize Maze, WR, Alabama
Nick Saban teams don’t usually need much offense to win, but they do need some. They got it the last two years from Mark Ingram and Julio Jones. With both gone, Trent Richardson and Maze step in. Maze is a dark horse receiver to inflict some heavy damage and maybe even win the Fred Biletnikoff Award, since nobody is paying attention to the Tide offense. He’s got the hands, the speed, and the football intelligence to succeed big time at Alabama in 2011.
8) Melvin Harris, WR, Mississippi
The dark horse of all dark horses of anything is Harris. He had a big 41 yard TD catch against Jacksonville State in the Rebels’ opener… and caught exactly two more TD passes the rest of the season. He’ll have to do a lot more than that in order for Ole Miss to succeed. And with Markeith Summers gone, he’ll have more of a chance to. His talent is very impressive. He is a very good wide receiver in every aspect: good hands, fast enough, and dependable enough on big plays. Or at least he has been in the past. Can he bounce back and do that again in 2011?
7) Andre Debose, WR, Florida
Debose didn’t really do much of anything on offense in 2010 thanks to Steve Addazio, the head clown of the Gators’ offensive circus. But this kid is absolutely electrifying. He took two kicks back for touchdowns and narrowly missed on a third. If used right- and I believe Charlie Weis will- Percy Harvin will wonder aloud why some people photoshopped him and put him on the screen during Florida games this year. No, they’re not the same. Let’s hold off on the Percy comparisons until he actually plays a game. But this kid’s POTENTIAL is as high as Harvin’s ever was. Solid hands, lightning quickness, evil juke moves- he’s got it all.
6) Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas
There isn’t a whole lot separating the fearsome threesome in Fayetteville. Wright was depended on the least of the three (plus dearly departed tight end DJ Williams) but that’s certainly no knock on Wright when you see how explosive he was. As the FOURTH target of QB Ryan Mallet (also gone), he pulled in 42 receptions. That’s unheard of. His speed and athleticism are off the charts, and he will be a major pain to deal with for opposing defenses because who has three cornerbacks like Joe Haden?
5) Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Perhaps the biggest bright spot in a very disappointing 2010 for UT was the freshman Hunter, who has a habit of burning defenses for deep bombs and easy scores. With Tyler Bray holding the keys full time now to this offense, look for him to shine even more. His hands and speed are fantastic, and look for him to maybe draw some double coverage. This kid will be the next AJ Green if only his team does a little better. Then again, Georgia sucked with Green and he still was phenomenal. Who knows?
4) Chris Rainey, WR, Florida
Hands down the best athlete in the SEC, and maybe the country. I’m sorry Gatorhaters but this kid is unbelievable. He only played in half the Gators’ games and still finished second on the team in rushing. With Charlie Weis aboard, he will be more of a receiver, and we’ve seen him do pretty well in the slot before. With summer and fall practices closed, we don’t know how exactly he will be used. But this kid’s speed, nasty jukes and spins, and hands will propel him to a fantastic senior season.
3) Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
Childs has a nasty habit of catching big bombs at bad times for opponents. He is not quite as dangerous physically as some receivers behind him, but he’s still a threat in one on one. What makes him better is he is a rock. He caught 46 passes a year ago, and is always depended on to make the big 3rd and 15 catch on the sidelines with two minutes left and down by five. Of course, he is still a very good athlete, don’t get me wrong, and that’s how he can get loose in the secondary. He’s just more of an overall great wide receiver for the Razorbacks.
2) Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
The last of the three Musketeers in Fayetteville is Adams, and he may be the best of them. He hauled in an even 50 passes a year ago from Mallet, and seems poised to duplicate that in 2011. His hands, speed, athleticism and football IQ are exactly what NFL scouts want to see. There really isn’t a lot he can’t do- he’s even good at returning punts. He will probably be the #1 option for Tyler Wilson… or maybe they’ll all be relied on equally?
1) Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
Yeah, Lane Kiffin, this kid’s really pumping gas well. It’s not his fault that you missed out on by far the best athlete to come out of South Carolina in a long time. This kid doesn’t do everything well, he does everything extraordinarily well. He is an absolute nightmare for even the best defensive backs to handle. Hell, even Janoris Jenkins had trouble with him. He’s an extremely gifted athlete, and assuming Stephen Garcia stays out of trouble and keeps throwing to him, he’s bound to win the Fred Biletnikoff Award for most outstanding wide receiver.