In less than a month, the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation will announce its preseason watch list for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award, which is presented each season to the nation’s top wide receiver.
Alabama has had one recipient of the award, Amari Cooper taking the honor in 2014. Another could be on the way. Calvin Ridley had an exceptional freshman year for the Crimson Tide in Bama’s 2015 national championship season. Ridley had 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first college season.
Those numbers broke the freshman records of a couple of very fine Alabama wide receiver, Cooper and Julio Jones. Ridley was Freshman All-America.
Ridley will be joined at wide receiver by another potential award winner in junior ArDarius Stewart, who had 63 receptions for 700 yards and four touchdowns last season.
But Alabama’s receivers aren’t the only ones Bama fans will be seeing in the 2016 college football season. The Tide schedule includes several teams who have some of the nation’s best, starting with the opening game and Alabama facing Southern Cal on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas.
The Trojans feature Ju-Ju Smith Schuster, who was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff as a sophomore last year. He had 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns.
There are many who believe the top two pre-season candidates for nation’s top receiver are Ridley and Schuster.
And there are others.
Christian Kirk had an outstanding freshman year at Texas A&M in 2015, augmenting his 80 receptions for 1009 yards and 7 TDs with 11 rushes for 54 yards, 14 punt returns for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns, and 20 kickoff returns for 385 yards.
Even with quarterback issues and an understandable dependency on Leonard Fournette, one cannot overlook the ability of LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre, who had 43 receptions for 698 yards and 6 touchdowns as a sophomore.
It won’t be long after the USC game before the Tide sees another outstanding wide receiver. In Alabama’s second game of the year, hosting Western Kentucky, Bama will have to be aware of senior Taywan Taylor, who had 86 receptions for 1,467 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Arkansas will have senior Drew Morgan who had 63 receptions for 700 yards and 4 TDs in 2015.
Mississippi State senior Fred Ross had 88 receptions for 1,007 yards and 5 touchdowns last season.
Obviously, others may emerge, but it appears that Alabama’s secondary will have its work cut out for it this season. The Biletnikoff selection committee might want to have a representative at Crimson Tide games in 2016.