The Best Receivers in the Big XII

It's just darn hard to figure out who the best receivers are when there are just so many good ones throughout the conference. The good thing is, though, graduation and the draft helped some. With that said, there's still a ton of talent in the Big XII, some already known and some that will be soon enough and we run our top ten down as we rank the best receivers in the Big XII.

10 - Dominique Ziegler (Baylor) – 6-3, 180, Jr. – There's going to be a little chuckle here, but let's not forget that amongst the passing offenses in the Big XII, Baylor ranked in the top half instead of the lower half, where they usually reside with just about everything else.

 

One big reason for that was Ziegler and it wasn't with the big play, rather the very consistent sure-handedness and ability to find space on the field.

 

When you think blazing speed, you won't think of him. When you think of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, Dominique won't be the first to come to mind. What he is, though, is dependable, consistent and able to create space where there is none.

 

He's one of those guys that you can say doesn't do any one thing great, but there isn't one thing that he isn't good at.

 

He won't make that big 70 yard play, but he'll give you seven 10 yard plays and that's the kind of consistency the Bears need. He'll get help with the return of starting QB Shawn Bell and returning starting running back Paul Mosley, so he should have some freedom to have a good year.

 

9 - Jon Davis (Iowa State) – 6-4, 200, Jr. – Along with teammate Todd Blythe, this could be the dynamic duo of the Big XII wide receiving core. Granted, the boys down in Lubbock are probably going to dominate statistically, but when it comes to all around ability, this tandem stacks up pretty well.

 

What Davis brings is almost the prototype of today's receiver, bigger in frame, but still holding good speed. One of the great things about Davis is that you can't pin him down when it comes to creating separation. He can do it to you in a variety of ways.

 

That makes him a threat all over the field.

 

Did you know that it was actually Davis that was the top receiver last year for Iowa State, statistically speaking?

 

With the fab freshman Bret Meyer now hopefully becoming a sensational sophomore, there's going to be opportunities abound for anyone catching balls for the Cyclones and you can pencil in Davis as one of if not THE go-to guy.

 

8 - Limas Sweed (Texas) – 6-5, 215, So. – Every QB needs good receivers, but it works the other way around as well. And, if Vincent Young takes another step in his development as a thrower, Sweed is one of the unsung stars of the future in the Big XII.

 

Sweed didn't see a ton of work last year as a true freshman, but within those opportunities, he showed everyone what's in store for seasons to come.

 

The first thing that screams at you when you watch him on the field is that he's both physical and elusive. At his height, that's not a link you make very easily, yet Sweed is that, plus he gives you the ability to throw fades as he is a remarkable jumper; he gives you the confidence to go post as he's not afraid of the middle and he's a solid possession guy.

 

The only thing he'll need to see more results is help, something that he SHOULD have, but in the absence of a ton of experience at the wideout position, it's not certain as of yet. Yes, there is All-Everything tight end David Thomas, but that won't keep people off Sneed's back down the field. So, there is going to be a need for other guys to step up.

 

Honestly, Sweed could be ranked a little higher on this list on potential, but it should be realized potential this season. Well, as long as Young can get him the ball.

 

7 - Dusty Sprague (Colorado) – 6-4, 190, So. – If you want my underrated and underappreciated award of the year, it could end up going to Sprague. As a true freshman, he wasn't the statistical equal of fellow returning wideout Blake Mackey, but I think this kid brings a lot more to the field.

 

He can play inside or out, run stretch-plays or posts and he's good at creating separation either with his body or his feet. He's still got some work to do with his hands, but that should be expected of someone his age.

 

Now, there is going to be an adjustment for the entire wide receiving core, Ted Gilmore, their position coach now doing the same job with the Huskers.

 

The table is set, though, for a good year from the entire core as Joel Klatt is back and ranks as one of the better overall QBs in the conference.

 

What Sprague showed last year with his 12 yards a catch in fairly limited opportunities was that he was one of the sure-things to get a lot more opportunities the next time around. With the return of the aforementioned Mackey, that gives CU a double-dose of potency at the position for defenses to try and handle.

 

Now, if CU can just find a running game with the loss of both Brian Calhoun and Bobby Purify, everyone could benefit in the end.

 

6 - Yamon Figurs (Kansas State) – 6-0, 180, Jr. – It almost seems obligatory every year that Kansas State should have one of those receivers that isn't long on stature, but is long on speed and sure-handedness.

 

Figurs is that and then some, boasting actually better size than some of his more famous predecessors, but he's got the wheels and the hands to make the difference.

 

That's the thing that probably makes him the deadliest and did so last year as it was almost too obvious at times that if Kansas State was going to throw, who was going to get the ball. Yet, Figurs still made the play. It was enough to not only lead the Wildcats in receiving last year as just a sophomore, but also enough to average almost 16 yards per catch.

 

If you play him soft at the line, the kid can kill you with the quick slants. And if you try and get brave on the line playing bumb ‘n run, you'll need help over the top, because this kid knows how to use his hands.

 

What Figurs will need this year if he's going to continue his rise as one of the better receivers is help at his own position and of courser, under center.

 

If the starting quarterback is Dylan Meier, Figurs should have a banner year. If it's Webb, Figurs could still have a good year, but probably won't be nearly as prolific. Also, the loss of Darren Sproles is going to give defenses the luxury early on to test the running game, but devote a lot to defending the pass.

 

If everything works out in the backfield, that's the key to Figurs having a great year. He'll be good either way, though.

 

5 - Sean Coffey (Missouri) – 6-5, 220, Sr. – With his size, Coffey is already a pain in the butt to cover. Well, add some pretty decent athleticism to that as well. Coffey can be a threat on stretch plays, but that's not his forte'. If you played him soft, thinking he's going to burn you deep, then you get to see what his forte' really is.

 

If a defender is in close, Coffey has good instincts in using his body to shield the defender, while not losing focus on the ball. He's even adept at going over double-teams if he has to go up and get the ball.

 

To me, he's your classic possession type receiver with better than average speed.

 

That means Coffey is going to be solid on the short stuff, a legitimate enough threat on the deep stuff to make defenses pay attention and his almost 17 yards per catch average will tell you that he knows what to do with the ball once he pulls it in.

 

Oddly enough, the only downside to Coffey this year could be the apparent return to the old form of quarterback Brad Smith, the emphasis this year seemingly on utilizing Smith for everything he does than trying to force him to be a pocket passer.

 

You'd say that is a downer for the receivers, but that will really depend on Smith. If people see the same Smith that ran for over 1,000 yards and passed for over 2,300 his freshman season, defense are going to have to adjust. For a possession guy that knows where to be and when, that's an opportunity too good to pass up.

 

That's Sean Coffey.

 

4 - Todd Blythe (Iowa State) – 6-5, 210, So. – It'd be hard to top his freshman season. Especially when his health is still not totally resolved as to whether he will be 100 percent by the fall.

 

If he is, though, Blythe has everything to make a stab at another banner year.

 

First, you look at his size and anymore, that's not going to stand out as glaringly different from many you see in the conference and on this list. Size does matter, of course, no DB in the conference even sniffing two inches from Blythe's formidable frame.

 

The thing is, this kid can flat out get it done when he gets the ball, averaging a whopping 21 yards-plus per catch last year.

 

At times, he's looked almost unstoppable, but even when he wasn't, he was still pretty darn good, but it wasn't long before opponents realized how potent he was and it wasn't just the cornerbacks playing him soft at the line, but there was always going to be a safety over the top and at times, even a linebacker that cheated over to help if needed.

 

Healthy or not, if Blythe hits the field the first game, he's likely to get the same kind of respect, but his health is obviously the key.

 

If healthy and with the help of ISU's statistically best receiver last year in Jon Davis, Todd can inch himself even higher up the list as one of the conference's best ball catchers.

 

3 - D'Juan Woods (Oklahoma State) – 6-2, 200, Jr. – No, Woods isn't the prototypical 6-4 or taller that receiver coaches and coaches in general like to see nowadays.

 

If you don't know already, though, with this kid, it simply doesn't matter.

 

You play Woods soft, either with his agility or pure quickness, he'll kill you.

 

You play him tight and he's got the quickness and hands to get around you and the speed to be a legit threat down the field.

 

With all that being said, what you see that he can do is a benefit of athleticism and not necessarily that of being a great receiver.

 

That was his brother and Woods simply doesn't have the instincts RaShaun had for the ball, but he's got just about everything else.

 

You want gaudy, Woods averaged over 20 yards per catch. You want prolific, Woods scored a touchdown on almost 20 percent of the balls thrown at him and if you want a comparison that works, the most prolific receiver in the conference (Jarrett Hicks) was scoring right around 17 percent of the time.

 

Statistics aside, Woods has to be licking his chops this year, a new offensive coordinator from Florida along with another year for brother and starting QB Donovan Woods. The only problem is the loss of Vernand Morency, OSU's most dependable force in the running game.

 

Also, Woods isn't surrounded by a lot of experience at his position, so defenses will be keying on him all year. If THEY can step up and take some attention from the defense, that opens up the opportunities for D'Juan.

 

What Woods gives you is absolutely everything you want in a receiver, but without the seasoning a true wide receiver might have. As the old stereotype went with Nebraska Quarterbacks being running backs that could throw, Wood is a pure athlete that can catch.

 

Try defending it, though, and you will see that sometimes it's just hard to tell the difference.   

 

2 - Travis Wilson (Oklahoma) – 6-3, 213, Sr. – There's not too many places that this guy could have played last year and been just one of the guys. Actually, Wilson was in the shadows most of the time, names like Clayton, Bradley and Jones getting a lot of the pub.

 

That's something else, especially when the top receiver on the team in terms of touchdowns and second best receiver in the conference in that category was none other than Wilson himself.

 

And you can pick your poison as to how this guy will get those as well.

 

Where he'll get most of that production, though, is at the end of a solid route.

 

That sounds almost ridiculous as that's what most receivers are expected to do. Yes, but the word "expected" is key here.

 

What you expect of them all, Wilson actually gives you and with remarkable efficiency.

 

The funniest part of watching someone try to cover him or most depressing part if you happen to be that guy, is when anyone tries to out physical this kid. First of all, his size will tell you that's not wise, but he plays a lot bigger than that and this kid has to be one of the strongest receivers in the conference.

 

So, try playing him bump ‘n run and all you are going to get, is hurt.

 

Make no mistake that Wilson is THE guy at OU this year in the receiving core, but the hope for Sooner fans is that he isn't the only one.

 

There's some guys on the backburner with some experience, but when you lose three of your best receivers, that's a lot of ground to make up.

 

The good thing is that Wilson has Adrian Peterson, so there's no way in hades that defenses can play Wilson like he's the only threat. In fact, it will take at least two people on Peterson to probably make any difference.

 

The big question is who will be the QB. While Stoops has said that the QB is going to be more mobile than in previous years, that's like Barry Switzer saying in the prime of his career that they are going to pass more.

 

Well, you couldn't pass much less, couldn't you?

 

There's a host of QBs in the mix for the starting job and needless to say, Wilson's success depends a lot on the proficiency of the new signal-caller for OU. He'll be good, but how good will probably be the difference between Wilson having a solid year or a year to remember.

 

1 - Jarrett Hicks (Texas Tech) – 6-4, 210, Jr. – A Texas Tech receiver led the conference in total yards receiving last year. Yeah, that's about as anti-climactic as OU or NU winning the rushing title during the eighties and nineties.

 

Heck, even the tight end for Tech was the second leading receiver in the conference.

 

Don't let the stereotype of the system that does apply quite correctly to the quarterbacks, though, apply to someone like Hicks.

 

It doesn't apply at all.

 

Hicks is the real deal, something anyone that's had to defend him along with this crazy offense will tell you. He's got size, speed, elusiveness and the ability to be physical in close and he uses his body as well as he does his hands.

 

One thing that you can say above all things, as far as I am concerned and I believe it's very important is that this guy is a consistent bad-ball catcher.

 

No, it's not to say that he's getting bad ball consistently thrown at him, but it doesn't have to be between the numbers for him to make the grab. With his arms extended and out, he can make the grab. One-handed; he's made those to.

 

Actually, I'm not sure what catches he can't make.

 

There is only one slight problem: He needs some help.

 

I firmly believe that Hicks is the cream of the crop of receivers in this conference this season. With that said, defenses know this and they will be playing him as if he's the key to the whole thing.

 

Tech has a new QB and quite frankly, there's only one or possibly two other wideouts on the team that are going to even draw a second glance as to seeing something more than the usual attention. It's all going to be on Hicks and if the other players don't step up, a potentially even more prolific year could be more frustrating instead.

 


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