The Top 8 Receivers In The AAC
By Matt Seidel
Wide receiver is easily the deepest offensive position in the AAC. Scattered across the conference is an abundance of big-play threats that will be heavily relied on to lead their teams to victory. The American returns key figures on the outside and an infusion coming from Conference USA. Here are the top eight players to watch at wideout in 2014.
8. Andre Davis, USF
Davis has always possessed the athleticism to be a force out wide, but erratic play-calling and shaky quarterback play has limited his ability to maximize his potential. Davis averaged less than 40 yards per game in last season’s first seven games as USF used four quarterbacks in search of a spark under center.
That all changed when Mike White was named the starting quarterback for the Houston game. For the last five games in 2013, Davis averaged 91.6 yards per game on 29 catches. While Davis only reached the end zone twice and the USF quarterback situation has yet to be resolved, the senior wide-out proved last season that with a little stability, he can be a huge threat.
7. Mekale McKay, Cincinnati
After playing a season in Arkansas, McKay transferred to Cincinnati to be closer to his ill grandmother. He only recorded 16 catches on the year, but…
Of those 16 catches, he recorded 485 yards, good for an obscene 30.3 yards per catch and seven touchdowns. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 195 pounds, the Kentucky native looks more like a small forward than wide receiver at first glance, but has the skills to be a focal point.
Averaging 30.3 yards per catch is an anomaly and nobody should be expected to put up such a gaudy total, but an expanded role could lead to nightmares for opposing secondaries.
6-4. Rannell Hall, Breshad Perriman and JJ Worton, UCF
Blake Bortles left Orlando early to be the third overall pick in the draft, but staying behind is a trio of receivers that will help ease the transition for whoever wins the starting quarterback job. Hall led the trio with 57 catches and 886 yards, Perriman averaged more than 20 yards per catch (39 receptions) and Worton had the most touchdowns (seven).
Worton has been a model of dependability, hauling in more than 40 passes in his first three seasons. To complement his production in the passing game, Hall netted 121 yards on 14 carries. Perriman, the youngest of the three, enters his junior year with 65 catches and 1,199 yards to his name. Individually, none are stars, but united they are an extremely dangerous monster.
3. Geremy Davis, Connecticut
Davis cracked 1,000 yards in his junior campaign, reeling in three touchdowns in a lost season in Storrs. The Huskies couldn’t establish the running game at all and gave significant playing time to three signal callers, but Casey Cochran’s emergence in the final four games led to Davis’ best. In the season finale against Memphis, Davis caught 15 passes for 207 yards. All three of his touchdowns were from Cochran.
Unlike the aforementioned Davis, Geremy succeeded in spite of the surrounding turmoil. The 6-foot-2 Georgia product only dipped below 4 catches and 50 yards once (2 catches, 16 yards at UCF). His consistency will be welcomed by Bob Diaco as leading rusher Lyle McCombs has been dismissed and the quarterback battle between Casey Cochran and Tim Boyle is ongoing.
2. Justin Hardy, East Carolina
The most important receiver in the East Carolina Air Show is Justin Hardy. Unheralded out of high school, Hardy walked on and redshirted in 2010, became a starter in 2011, was a first team All-Conference USA performer in 2012 and statistically the best receiver in school history by the end of 2013.
Entering his senior year, Hardy has tallied 3,047 receiving yards. He needs 1,208 yards to crack the NCAA career top ten list for receiving yards. The career record of 5,005 yards set by Trevor Insley is unobtainable, but Hardy’s yards have trended upward (2011: 658; 2012: 1,105; 2013: 1,284) and Ryan Broyles’ 4,586 yards (second all-time) could be cracked with a Herculean effort.
1. Deontay Greenberry, Houston
Greenberry comes in at No. 1 following a sophomore season in which he hauled in 82 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hardy notched more catches and yards, but Greenberry edged him in yards per catch and touchdowns. He has lived up to his five-star billing (according to Scout and 247Sports), racking up 1,771 yards and 14 scores through two seasons.
Greenberry’s combination of size and speed is behind only a select few. His monster second season and natural gifts could lead to his leaving school early (Greenberry ranks 66th on Frank Cooney’s Top 100 2015 NFL Draft Prospects). Regardless of his decision, Greenberry enters his junior year as the conference’s best wide receiver, and arguably its best player. Posting 1,200 yards with a rookie quarterback at the helm and missing one game (and leaving another in the first quarter due to a concussion) is truly impressive.