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This isn’t my daddy’s SEC, as the Southeastern Conference is no longer a league dominated by the run game and three yards and a cloud of dust. The evolution of the passing game has hit the SEC hard. Over the past three NFL Drafts this conference has produced 20 wide receiver draft picks, including six in the first round.
If you take a look at the 2015 season, it’s another outstanding crop of wide receivers, with three players fighting for the top spot. South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper could very well be the SEC’s most valuable and most versatile offensive talent. He checks in at No. 1. Cooper just edges out Auburn’s Duke Williams and Ole Miss’s Laquon Treadwell.
There are other outstanding SEC wide receivers like Josh Reynolds, Demarcus Robinson, and DeRunnya Wilson. And of course there will be some breakout stars this fall.
1) Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina)
All you need to know about Cooper is that he's one of the most versatile athletes in the SEC. That's a pretty impressive statement considering the talent in this conference. Cooper made first team All-SEC in 2014 after recording 69 receptions for 1,136 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He also scored two touchdowns rushing and threw two touchdown passes. Cooper can line out wide, in the slot, at running back or at wildcat. In two seasons in Columbia, Cooper has five plays of 70-yards or more. He's built like a running back and is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands because he has speed and quickness. Cooper is just a playmaker and a terrific overall football player. He just could be the most valuable player in the SEC this upcoming season. Steve Spurrier and South Carolina will be very inexperienced at quarterback in 2015 and that could affect his numbers. But you can bet the Gamecocks will figure a way to get him the ball as much as possible.
2) Dhaquille Williams (Auburn)
Dhaquille's nickname is Duke. This junior college transfer recorded 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns in his first season at Auburn. Williams made some ridiculous plays, showcasing a large catch radius, ball skills and the uncanny ability to make difficult catches look easy. It was a good transition for Williams but could have been better because he lacked consistency. Williams has everything - size, speed and athleticism. This kid has serious talent and just needs to put it all together. That should very well happen this season, especially with Jeremy Johnson now quarterbacking the Auburn attack. Williams should put up monster numbers in 2015.
3) Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)
Treadwell could move into the top spot if he's truly healthy and has a productive season this fall. All signs and reports are for him to be completely healed from his late season broken leg. When healthy and roaring, Treadwell is one of the most dangerous players in the game. He has good size, athleticism, speed and quickness. He's strong and runs good routes, creating separation out of his breaks. Treadwell catches the ball cleanly and then is tough to deal with afterwards. He has 120 passes for over 1,240 yards and 10 touchdowns in 22 games played. Ole Miss kept him out of spring practice. The Rebels will also be breaking in a new quarterback.
4) Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M)
Texas A&M has the deepest wide receiver corps in the SEC and quite possibly the nation, as the Aggies are loaded. It’s a deadly arsenal of big outside players and quick and fast slots. The best of the lot right now is Josh Reynolds. All he did in his first season in College Station was set the single season school record with touchdown receptions. This junior college transfer scored 13 times. Reynolds is a big (6-4/190), long and physical target who’s a long strider with deceptive speed.
5) DeMarcus Robinson (Florida)
There are some catches that Robinson makes and you say ‘wow’. Then this Gator will have a case of the drops. If he can play with consistency this season for Jim McElwain and Florida then Robinson could push for all-conference honors and the top wide receiver spot in the SEC. At 6-foot-2, 201-pounds, Robinson has good size. He's smooth, shows excellent body control and hand-eye coordination. Robinson has above average speed. He will be counted on heavily in Gainesville this fall, especially considering the Gators lack of overall talent at this position. Quarterback is also a big question mark for this program. Last season Robinson caught 53 passes for 810 yards and seven touchdowns.
6) DeRunnya Wilson (Mississippi State)
Wilson is a true junior that really had a breakout 2014 season along with quarterback Dak Prescott and Mississippi State. Their progression and maturity should continue to evolve this season, as Prescott-to-Wilson could be the top pass-catch tandem in the SEC. Wilson is a former basketball player that has terrific height (6-5/215) and length. He’s a matchup nightmare in the red-zone and a terrific outside threat. In 2014 he pulled in 47 receptions for 680 yards and nine touchdowns. Wilson was huge for the Bulldogs in their biggest games of last season.
7) Travin Dural (LSU)
Dural is one of the big play wide receivers in college football even with a struggling quarterback position in Baton Rouge. Last season he caught 35 passes for 758 yards and scored seven touchdowns. This Tiger wide receiver averaged over 20 yards per catch in 2014. He has good size and runs very well. Seriously, Dural may have the best deep speed in the SEC. He shows good concentration and catches the ball cleanly. His production could sky rocket with better quarterback play at LSU.
8) Marquez North (Tennessee)
As the Volunteers offense matures and grows up so to should North and his numbers… if he can stay healthy. He missed the final three games last year with a shoulder injury. North has all the physical tools to warrant a high spot this in the coming draft if he can stay on the field. If that happens that means he had a big 2015 in Knoxville. He has size (6-4/224), good speed and soft hands. Honestly, Tennessee could light up the scoreboard this fall with a blossoming quarterback in Josh Dobbs, one of the SEC’s most talented and deep wide receiver units and two excellent running backs. North is primed for a huge season and could be the Vols top offensive player.
9) Speedy Noil (Texas A&M)
Noil came to Kevin Sumlin and A&M with lofty expectations after being one of the most sought after prospects in the Class of 2014. Noil responded with an exceptional first season in College Station, catching 46 passes for 583 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. Now he’s ready for a much bigger role in 2015. Noil has pretty good size at 5-foot-11, 185-pounds. He is so fast, so quick and so explosive. Noil’s just a big play waiting to happen and one of the many weapons at Sumlin’s disposal. Noil missed some time during spring for disciplinary reasons but is back in good standing now with the Aggies.
10) Malachi Dupre (LSU)
How is it possible to have two LSU wide receivers on this list with the Tigers current quarterback situation? Well, Dural and Dupree are that talented. In fact, Dupree could end up much higher when we are talking SEC wide receivers six months from now in December. Dupree has all the tools – size, speed, athleticism and excellent hand-eye coordinator and body control. He only had 14 receptions in 2014 but Dupree scored five times and averaged over 22 yards a reception. He could be one of the breakout stars this fall.
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