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Eyes Across The Conference: Receivers

We're getting out of the offensive skill positions. The lines are up next but in the meantime, let's take a look at the combination of WRs and TEs.

No UCLA, I don't hate you. This is an awesome picture.
No UCLA, I don't hate you. This is an awesome picture.
Harry How

2012 saw many of the conference's best receivers leave for the draft, giving way to a new class of wide out. In this piece I will be analyzing WR and TE as one group, viewing them as receivers. As I mentioned before but I will be clarifying again, the schools will be ranked from best (12) to worst (1) and I will be plugging the rankings from the previous two lists into the overall score to continue the conference rankings. So without any more ado, receivers!

Arizona Wildcats

Rich Rodriguez likes to run the ball at Arizona, but it can't be ignored that the ‘Cats were in the top fourth of the conference, trailing just OSU and WSU. Dan Buckner is leaving Arizona but the steadily productive WR was not the most prolific pass catcher for the Wildcats. That distinction belongs to Austin Hill. Hill went over 1300 yards in his sophomore season. That and his 11 touchdowns were far and away, good enough to lead the team in receiving numbers. Across the field will be David Richards who made an impact as a freshman, scoring three times in 2012. Arizona doesn't dedicate much of their offence to the TE, but they did find their senior 13 times last season. Buckner's departure allows for nearly 800 yards of receiving to be accounted for, and a combination of David Richards and Garic Wharton could be the ones who take over for him. Ka'Deem Carey will take a lot of pressure off the passing game, but they need to be a viable threat to return the favor.

Arizona State Sun Devils

It may surprise people to know that the leading receiver for the Sun Devils last year was a TE. Only they and Stanford share that and only ASU returns their TE, Chris Coyle for the next season. The Devils are going to be missing a lot from their WRs this upcoming season as both Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles have graduated. That leaves Kevin Ozier as the leading, returning WR for the Devils. Ozier will be going into his senior year after scoring 5 times last year. As I had mentioned previously, what really sets the Sun Devils passing game apart from the conference is how much they use their running backs in the flat as an extension of the run game. Marion Grice and D.J. Foster can't be ignored as a part of the passing game but their presence doesn't improve the WR/TE unit who, outside of Coyle isn't spectacular. The Devils will see an infusion of players coming over from the JC ranks and they could assist in making the pass game more formidable.

California Golden Bears

California had enjoyed one of the most talented receivers in the conference for the last couple years in Keenan Allen. An injury and an early departure to the league left many Cal fans wondering where their receiving is going to come from this year. Fortunately, their next two leading receivers are coming back in Chris Harper and TE Richard Rodgers. Harper is the only receiver for Cal who caught more than one touchdown pass last season and the only one, other than Allen to eclipse 300 yards, coming in at 544. There doesn't appear to be a lot of help coming from the HS ranks and Harper and Rodgers are going to have to carry the passing game in 2013. Harper has a lot of raw talent and makes tough catches, but you have to wonder if he found himself open because of who was on the other side of the field. In Allen's absence, Harper had a good game against Washington going over 100 yards but wouldn't go over 40 yards receiving against either of the Oregon schools to close the season.

Colorado Buffaloes

Besting only Utah in the conference in passing yards, Colorado is still in the middle of a rebuilding effort. Nelson Spruce came in though and made an impact as a freshman, leading the team in the triple threat, receptions, yards and touchdowns. Colorado's pass game has just not been good since they entered the Pac-12 and there isn't much reason to expect them to come out of the bottom quarter of the league. The Buffaloes have brought in 3 WR for this upcoming class, and based off a freshman leading the team last season, there is reason to believe that the incoming 2013 freshmen could make an impact on the Buffaloes roster. The Buffs will see Vincent Hobbs return in the TE slot who was nearly as productive as Senior Nick Kasa last season. The touchdowns have to come from somewhere if Colorado is going to be competitive this year and the receivers look like the best option for that, playing off their running game.

Oregon Ducks

First and foremost a running team, Oregon finds its wide outs to be one of the most undervalued in the conference. This season they return Josh Huff, who appears primed for a breakout year despite an injury riddled career to this point at Oregon and Colt Lyerla who has many pundits debating who the best TE in the conference is, him or Washington's Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Oregon has a lot of raw potential at WR, with players like Kennan Lowe and Bralon Addison. If their potential can be realized, this can be a scary unit as a compliment to the Ducks' running game. The receivers factor into the run game, being one of the best blocking groups in the conference which allows for Oregon's RBs to spring for big runs. Their impact in the running game cannot be dismissed. No receiver went over 500 yards last season but only USC topped Oregon when it comes to scoring more through the air.

Oregon State Beavers

Featuring the only 1000 yard receiving duo in the conference, the Beavers quietly proved to be one of the most effective passing games in the league. No team passed for more yards and that was much to the thanks of Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. One half of the 1000 yard duo will be returning in Cooks, and will be the primary target for whoever comes out on top in the Vaz/Mannion battle at QB. Cooks will be complimented by TE Connor Hamlett who is the second most formidable returning pass catcher. The Beavers will need someone to step up across from Cooks, to keep him from seeing double teams all season. reports from the spring that Obum Gwacham may be ready to step up and cement his place as the #2. Behind them, the Beavers fill in with Micah Hatfield and Kevin Cummings who haven't been large pieces in the receiving game to this point. OSU can be successful again this year if they can get production from their play-action style passing game.

Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal have one of the largest question marks in the conference when it comes to their receivers. 6 of their top 7 receivers from last season have graduated or moved on to the NFL. The biggest stat grabber who will be returning is Ty Montgomery who accounted for only 213 of Stanford's 2802 receiving yards. The biggest loss for the Cardinal will be their two dynamic TE Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, first and second in touchdowns respectively. Francis Owusu will be incoming this fall and will hope to pick up where his brother, Chris left off. Coming from the spring, it appears that Montgomery will be leading the team and Jordan Pratt will look to stretch the field vertically for the conference champions. The passing game is going to have to be effective if they are to keep pressure off of what has been a stellar running attack in 2013

UCLA Bruins

Joseph Fauria was an outright beast in the UCLA offense last season, his 12 touchdown performance last season is unlikely to be replicated but it could be emulated. With Fauria's departure, Brett Hundley and the rest of the Bruins will be relying on a big year from Shaquelle Evans. Evans came just shy of 900 yards last season and he will be complimented by fellow senior Damien Thigpen who could be set to really burst on the scene for the Bruins in 2013. Similarly to WSU, UCLA did not have a TE record a catch in the 2012 campaign and much of that has to do with how UCLA likes to spread the field and sting defenses vertically. Like many teams in the conference the Bruins have raw talent waiting in the wings and they are going to need that talent to realize its capabilities in 2013 if UCLA is to make its third trip back to the conference title game.

USC Trojans

The Trojans lose Robert Woods coming into this season which is big, but Marqise Lee had already started to cause SC fans to move on. Lee is a threat to score any time he gets his hands on the ball and last year with Barkley he found the end zone 14 times as a sophomore and put up gaudy yardage numbers going over 1700. This year, Lee is complimented by the services of Nelson Agholar who saw his production rise as the season went on giving the Trojans a formidable 1-2 punch out wide. Agholar's best game of the season came against a marquee opponent in Oregon where he reeled in 6 catches for 162 yards, giving a glimmer of what may be to come. Although he is sitting out with a "broken chest" Xavier Grimble is a major wrinkle in the pass game also. Grimble had 5 TD receptions and is the 3rd highest returning receiver for the Trojans. These receivers will look to make for an easy transition for whichever quarterback comes out on top, come game time in the fall.

Utah Utes

Good news first, the Utah passing game can only improve. Finding themselves dead last in the conference, the Utes have nowhere to go but up. The Utah receiving corps is led by a trio of juniors, the headliner being tight end Jake Murphy. Murphy led the team in receiving touchdowns with four, eclipsing Utah's biggest deep threat Dres Anderson. Murphy has soft hands and found himself as a favorite target because of it. The unit suffered last season from inconsistent quarter back play and should improve this next year but the receivers are far from world beaters. With the departure of John White, the Utes may find themselves relying on the pass more than they have in previous seasons. They may get immediate help from JC transfer Andre Lewis who has both size and speed. He will be a welcome inclusion to what has been a subpar unit for the past couple seasons.

Washington Huskies

Having one of the best TEs in the country is going to be a real point of emphasis for the Huskies this season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the leading touchdown receiver with 7 and was just behind leading receiver Kasen Williams who had 878 yards receiving. After those two though, the production from the Husky WRs drops significantly. Washington had no other players at the position receive for over 200 yards or more than 2 touchdowns. UW is fairly thin out wide and is likely hoping that their trio of incoming freshman can contribute this upcoming season. Most likely of those three to step up is Damore'ea Stringfellow who was ranked by ESPN as the #51 recruit in the country. There's reason, but not evidence for the UW passing game to make a big step this year. For a team who was in the bottom third of the conference in passing this last season, an injection of youth out wide could be the thing this team needs to provide a more balanced attack offensively.

Washington State Cougars

No one in the conference threw the ball more than Washington State last season. Much of that is due to playing from behind, but also factored in is that WSU had and has some weapons at the wide out position. Marquess Wilson is gone from the program now, but the Cougs still have a trio of wide receivers who were only freshmen last season. A soft schedule early last season allowed for Gabe Marks to get comfortable in the offense while Wilson was doing spectacular things on the other side of the field. While Marks' production dipped later in the season, Dominique Williams stepped up and became the most prolific pass catcher in the second half of the season. I wouldn't be surprised to see Williams step up as the leading pass catcher this year for the Cougars. According to, WSU did not have a pass completed to a TE last season which I find strange, but when you're lining up 4 and 5 wide, there isn't much space on the field for a TE.

Receiver Rankings Overall Rankings
USC 12 Oregon 29
Arizona 11 Arizona State 27
Washington 10 Arizona 27
Washington State 9 Washington 26
Arizona State 8 USC 24
Oregon State 7 Oregon State 22
Oregon 6 UCLA 19
UCLA 5 Washington State 18
Stanford 4 Stanford 17
California 3 California 11
Colorado 2 Colorado 10
Utah 1 Utah 4

Writer's note: Don't freak out Stanford fans. This is unit by unit. You guys have a really good defense. It will level out.