Scouting Combine Research: WRs, Part 3

We continue our most popular series of the year with the third part of a bumper crop of wide receiver prospects. Leading off is BYU's record-setting Cody Hoffman, and it includes the most prolific receiver in SEC history and several remarkable personal stories.

Cody Hoffman, Brigham Young: Hoffman holds school records with 260 career receptions, 3,612 career receiving yards and 33 receiving touchdowns. His most productive season was his junior campaign, when he had 100 receptions for 1,248 yards; both are second in school history.  His prolific junior season helped land him atop several 2013 preseason watch lists, including the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. As a senior, he was suspended for a game early this season for a violation of team rules and also missed a game with a hamstring injury as he finished with 57 catches for 894 yards and five scores. The 6-foot-4 Hoffman finished his career with a reception in 43 consecutive games. "That dude will catch anything that is thrown to him," quarterback Taysom Hill said after BYU's loss at Wisconsin. Despite being one of the best players in BYU history, after a dominant bowl performance in which he earned MVP honors, Hoffman referred to himself as, "Just your typical BYU student."

Josh Huff, Oregon: Huff had a breakout senior season, catching 62 passes for a school-record 1,140 yards and a school-record-tying 12 total touchdowns, helping Marcus Mariotta become a Heisman candidate through most of the season. Huff also tied the Oregon record with 24 career touchdown catches. Huff was a four-position, two-way player in high school, splitting time at quarterback, running back and wide receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. His versatility made him a perfect fit in Oregon's spread offense. Huff's story is inspiring, as he made it to Eugene despite a rough childhood. He told the Oregonian that his mother, who was battling drug addiction, swung a 2-by-4 at his head one day. About a year later, she was sent to prison for swinging a lead pipe at a man named James Oliver. Still, Huff has achieved his goal. Football was for himself, but the college degree he earned was for his father, Donald Simpson.

Allen Hurns, Miami: The 6-foot-3 Hurns finished his career with 121 receptions for 1,891 yards and 14 touchdowns. His most impressive accomplishment was breaking Miami's single-season record for receiving yards, with his 1,162 yards breaking Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson's mark en route to being named the Hurricanes' offensive MVP. Only Hankerson, Andre Johnson and Eddie Brown had 1,000-yard seasons in school history. Hurns finds his inspiration in making a better life for his mother, who had two sons by the time she was 19 and could not afford much in Hurns' childhood. Now he draws motivation from his adverse childhood with the idea of achieving an NFL dream to provide for him and his family. "You build your program around guys like that," Miami coach Al Golden told the Sun Sentinel. "I can sit up there and say, 'Hey, this is what we've got to do.' That young man works his tail off and whatever talent God gave him, he honors it every day by the way he prepares, by the way he executes and by the way he practices…He's been a leader for us. I can't say enough about Allen Hurns."

Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State: The 6-foot-3 Janis had a big-time senior season for the Division II school, catching 83 passes for 1,572 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a 95-yard touchdown reception against Northern Michigan. That was one of his four touchdowns on the day. He caught 106 passes for 1,635 yards as a junior. Janis' performance at the Senior Bowl drew praise from Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith. "Every year, there's guys that come from Division II and Division III schools that get an opportunity to get in front of NFL personnel people and NFL coaches and make teams, and he's done a nice job," Smith, the coach of the North team, told the Detroit Free Press. "I know he's caught the attention of our coaching staff." Janis would not be the first person to make a leap to the NFL from Saginaw Valley, as Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath made that transition just one year ago and started nine games as a rookie. Janis went the small-school route because a broken finger sustained during his senior season of high school forced him to be a one-handed running back.

T.J. Jones, Notre Dame: Jones, a three-time selection to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, had a big senior season with 70 receptions for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished his career in South Bend with 181 receptions and 19 total touchdowns. Jones is the nephew of former Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears defensive end Phillip Daniels, and the Godson of former Notre Dame receiver Raghib Ismail. Jones was well-versed in Fighting Irish ways because his father, Andre Jones, played defensive end at Notre Dame for the 1988 national championship team. They both wore No. 7. Andre Jones died of a brain aneurysm almost three years ago.

Jarvis Landry, Louisiana State: Early entrant. Landry finished his career as one of the most productive wide receivers in school history, even though he was a starter only in 2013. He finished with 137 catches for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns. Landry broke out during his sophomore year, and carried that momentum into his junior year. His 77 receptions for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns made him the leading receiver for LSU and helped him earn second-team all-SEC honors. He caught at least four passes in 12 of 13 games, and six of his touchdowns came on third down. Landry is related to former LSU standout Glenn Dorsey. After a November contest against Texas A&M, Landry won photo of the day from NOLA.com for his air guitar celebration.  His toughness comes from roughhousing with a cousin in the kitchen.

Cody Latimer, Indiana: Early entrant. It took Latimer just three seasons to become the 21st Hoosiers receiver to reach 100 catches and 1,000 yards. The 6-foot-3 Latimer finished his career ranked seventh with 135 catches, seventh with 2,042 yards tied for fourth in school with seven 100-yard games. He caught a pass in all 32 career games. In 2013, he hauled in 72 passes for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns. Latimer was a two-way player in high school, excelling as a wide receiver and defensive back at Jefferson Township High School in Dayton, Ohio. Latimer did not play football until halfway through his high school career, as he originally dreamed of being a basketball player. He began playing football at the request of his mother. Latimer caught six passes for 137 yards and a touchdown against Bowling Green. His father, Colby, who had played linebacker for Bowling Green, died of colon cancer in 2005.

Marqise Lee, Southern California: Early entrant. Lee, one of the fastest receivers in the NCAA, had one of the more confusing careers in college football. He burst onto the scene during his freshman season, when he had 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. He followed that up with 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. That season made him a Heisman Trophy candidate entering 2013, but the production did not match the preseason hype. Due to the graduation of current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley, and some issues with drops and injuries, Lee caught 57 passes in his final season at USC. Lee is a member of the USC track team and proficient in sign language because both of his parents are deaf. When he was 12, he tried to enter the gang that his older brothers belonged to, but they wouldn't let him.

Marcus Lucas, Missouri: The towering Lucas (6-foot-5) was Missouri's most experienced returning receiver for 2013. He responded to that in a big way, catching 58 passes for 692 yards and helping lead the Tigers to a SEC runner-up finish in just their second year in the conference. Lucas has a family pedigree at Missouri, since his mother played on the Tigers' basketball team from 1986 through 1989 and chose Missouri in part due to what he described as a family type atmosphere. "He's made me very, very proud," Monique told the Kansas City Star. "He's worked hard and definitely elevated his game. He's done well academically. The whole, well-rounded person he has become has surpassed my wildest dreams."

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: The 6-foot-3 Matthews enjoyed one of the most prolific careers in SEC history as the conference's all-time leader with 262 receptions for 3,759 yards. As a senior, he was a first-team all-conference performer and earned first-team All-American from USA Today and Athlon after catching 112 balls for 1,477 yards and seven scores. He caught 94 passes in 2012, when Aaron Rodgers' brother, Jordan, was Vandy's quarterback. Matthews is the cousin of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. Matthews' leadership and selflessness was displayed when he spent 10 days on a mission trip in Africa before his senior year as a prep star in Madison, Ala. That time in Africa, rather than at a football camp, was a reason why he didn't have a single scholarship offer until one of Vanderbilt's recruits de-committed.

Donte Moncrief, Mississippi: Early entrant. The 6-foot-3 Moncrief finished third in school history in receptions (156), yards (2,371) and receiving touchdowns (20).  Moncrief's best season came as a sophomore, when he snagged 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns. Moncrief is the cousin of former Rebels wide receiver Shay Hodge, and was high school teammates with current Rebels receiver Woodrow Hamilton.  


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