#1-Santonio Holmes-Ohio State-Junior
#2-Ted Ginn Jr.-Ohio State-Sophomore
#12-Jerramy Scott-Michigan State-Junior
There's plenty to debate in this deep and talented group of Big Ten receivers. I think it all depends on what you want in a receiver: there are game breakers like Ted Ginn Jr. and possession type guys like Jason Avant. In that regard it's hard to gauge who's better because of the different styles. In my opinion though, Santonio Holmes is the best of both worlds and the most complete receiver in the league. Holmes combines excellent speed and route running to gain maximum separation from defenders and he's a game breaker with the ball in his hands. Speaking of game breaker, Ted
Ginn Jr. gets the #2 slot largely on potential. He still obviously has some refining to do on his game but he is the best playmaker in the Big Ten and is a threat to score any time he gets the ball. Ohio State will find plenty of ways to get the ball in his hands, and he should develop into one of the best offensive players in the conference by the end of the year, as well as a possible Heisman candidate.
Steve Breaston should surprise in this his first year as a starter, not to mention his return to 100 percent health. Breaston isn't too far behind Ginn in terms of athletic ability, both are very elusive and have straight line speed no defensive back can match. Breaston has reliable hands and the heart of a lion, fighting injury and stepping up when his team needs it. His partner Jason Avant doesn't do much after the catch but you won't find a more reliable receiver in the conference. Avant has the best hands in the nation and is a precise route runner who gives everything he has. Clinton Solomon is another total package type wideout. He has great size at 6'3, excellent speed and has improved as a route runner. Solomon is also the returning receiving yards leader in the Big Ten. Ed Hinkel isn't a huge game breaker but he's a reliable possession type guy with glue hands.
Ernest Wheelwright comes in at number seven but could break the top five if he becomes more consistent. There's no question with his 6'5 frame and his set of wheels he can break a game open at any moment. Jared Ellerson suffered through a down year last season but talent wise, he has a lot of it. Ellerson is one of the best in the conference at catching the football, and he has speed to make things happen deep. The team is pretty content on having Wheelwright be the deep threat, but Ellerson can do some damage if given the chance.
Kyle Ingraham is coming off a breakout season in 2004 and should thrive again in Purdue's passing attack. Ingraham is a mismatch with any corner at 6'9 and he's quickly becoming a top-notch possession receiver. Dorien Bryant is another star receiver in the making at Purdue. Bryant isn't overly big or strong but in terms of quickness and speed, he can gain separation very well and he could quickly become a star in this conference.
Mark Philmore is one of most underrated players in the conference. When I watch Philmore play, I see a shadow of Jason Avant out there. Outstanding hands, great route runner, and he blocks with a passion. Had he not been injured last October his name would have caught more attention. Jerramy Scott is an emerging target in the Spartan offense and could be the most complete receiver on the team. He has ability after the catch and has turned into the number one receiver in East Lansing. Brandon Williams is one of the better route runners in the conference and should have another productive year if he returns healthy from a stress fracture to his shin. Kendrick Jones has been a bright spot for the Fighting Illini and if a quarterback emerges there he could be put on the map quickly. Jonathan Orr has talent but has yet to reach his full potential. Orr could be in for a good year with a new pass friendly system.
#4-Ryan Hamby-Ohio State-Senior
#8-Isaac Smolko-Penn State-Senior
#11-Roy Hall-Ohio State-Junior
#12-Ryan Woods-Michigan State-Senior
#14-Rory Nicol-Ohio State-Sophomore
Charles Davis proved last season he can do more than just block, hauling in 34 passes for 416 yards. He has proven to be the most complete tight end in the conference. Owen Daniels is a guy I really think will breakout this season. He has been underutilized in previous seasons but with more focus on him this season, he will show off his receiving ability. Tim Massaquoi needs work as a blocker but he has plenty of athletic ability and his hands seem to be improving. Ryan Hamby in my opinion wasn't used enough last season but he has reliable hands and good athletic ability. He's a decent blocker but he could do damage as a receiver if thrown to more often.
Tyler Ecker shares the spotlight with Massaquoi at Michigan but has made some huge catches in his career. He's athletic for his size and is probably the better blocker of the two. Matt Spaeth is a imposing tight end who is in my opinion the best blocker in the Big Ten. Spaeth isn't a great receiver yet but he is clearly a developing star. Scott Chandler doesn't even start but you have to admire the receiving ability he brings to the table. The 6'7 Chandler caught 24 passes for 324 passes last season and should have a similar impact this year.
Issac Smolko doesn't see many passes thrown his way but his main job is to block and he does a solid job at it. Ryan Majerus is a better blocker than Scott Chandler and usually sees reps in running situations. Melvin Bryant needs a lot of work as a blocker, but he can make an impact catching the football. Ohio State's Roy Hall was moved from receiver to tight end and could blossom there. Hall will likely see reps behind Hamby and is a very tough matchup with linebackers and safeties.
Ryan Woods could surprise this season after returning from injury. Erryn Cobb won't see much time in Northwestern's spread offense and is mostly a blocking type. Rory Nicol is a star in the making down in Columbus who could see some time at the now loaded tight end position down in Columbus. Jarod Posthumus is one of the better reserve tight ends in the league; blocking is his specialty.
Ranking the Big Ten Players by Position: WRs, TEs
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