Utah Football: Ranking Opposing Wide Receivers Ahead Of 2021 Season

Jul 9, 2021, 12:48 PM
Jaylon Redd, Oregon; Drake London, USC; Puka Nacua, Washington...
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Being in the Pac-12, Utah football constantly faces teams with elite wide receiver play and it’s still strong going into the 2021 season.

The Pac-12 is known for great quarterback play which trickles down to really good wide receiver play and that’s what Utah will face this season.

Here is the Crimson Corner’s ranking of wide receiver groups based on difficulty heading into the 2021 season.

12. Weber State Wildcats

In the Big Sky Conference, this is a very good wide receiver group. But against a Pac-12 team like Utah, it doesn’t stack up well for the Wildcats. Ty MacPherson led Weber State in receiving yards (395) during the 2021 spring season and was second in receptions (19).

Another weapon for the Wildcats is Rashid Shaheed, who led the team in receptions (21) and touchdowns (3), while finishing second in yards (251). David Ames is another dynamic playmaker for Jay Hill’s squad.

Between those three players, they racked up 53 receptions for 829 yards and four touchdowns during the 2021 spring season.

11. San Diego State Aztecs

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Aztec fans since their style of play is very similar to Utah’s. Run the ball and play physical defense. During the 2020 season, their three top returning receivers combined for 44 receptions for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Jesse Matthews led the receivers in catches (24) and yards (326). Kobe Smith is another talented receiver that is back for the Aztecs, who caught 13 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns last season. Elijah Kothe is another returning talent to watch for with San Diego State.

Last season, SDSU finished seventh in receptions (115), seventh in yards (1,211), 10th in receiving yards per game (151.4) and tied for sixth in receiving touchdowns (6) in the Mountain West.


Phillippe Wesley (3-star)

Joshua Nicholson (3-star)

Tyrell Shavers (Mississippi State)

10. Washington State Cougars

One of the position groups for Nick Rolovich and the Cougars that need an upgrade is the wide receivers. They had some talented players but of their four top WR’s, only two are returning.

Renard Bell led the team in receptions (33) and touchdowns (2), while finishing second in yards (337) last season. Travell Harris is also back after recording the second most receptions (29), most yards (340) and touchdowns (2). Those two combined for 62 catches for 677 yards and four touchdowns in 2020.

The next two top wide receivers from last year decided to transfer is Jamire Calvin and Lucas Bacon. Washington State finished the 2020 season ranked ninth in receptions (94) and yards (1,019), while placing third in yards per game (254.8) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (6) in the Pac-12.


CJ Moore (3-star)

De’Zhaun Stribling (3-star)

Tsion Nunnally (3-star)

Orion Peters (3-star)

Joshua Meredith (3-star)

Lincoln Victor (Hawai’i)

9. Arizona State Sun Devils

The Sun Devils didn’t play many games in 2020 due to getting hit with COVID-19 cases in their program. That’s a big reason why their numbers are so low. But the production wasn’t there as they chose to run the ball more in 2020. They have two receivers that are returning from last season that reached 100 yards.

Geordon Porter was the top WR in 2020, finishing second in yards (120) but only had five catches and one touchdown. LV Shelton-Bunkley hauled in 11 receptions, which led ASU to go with 100 yards but didn’t find the end zone.

Arizona State picked up a massive commitment in the transfer portal in former Ute Bryan Thompson who had nine receptions for 187 yards and one TD in 2020. In the 2020 shortened season, ASU finished last in receptions (51), 11th in yards (777), yards per game (194.3) and touchdowns (5).


Junior Alexander (4-star)

Bryan Thompson (Utah)

8. Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats have some talented receivers but it was a matter of making the necessary plays which was the issue in 2020. Under Jedd Fisch, the offense should improve but will need to get things figured out offensively.

Stanley Berryhill III is back after leading the team in receptions (23), yards (227) and touchdowns (3) last season. Brian Casteel, Jamarye Joiner, Boobie Curry and Tayvian Cunningham also return. Those players combined for 65 receptions for 699 yards and five touchdowns last season.

As a team, Arizona finished sixth in receptions (114), eighth in yards (1,065), eighth in yards per game (213) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (6).


Ma’jon Wright (Middle Tennessee)

7. Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffs lost a talented receiver to another Pac-12 team as K.D. Nixon transferred to USC. But Karl Dorrell has some good receivers to turn to. La’Vontae Shenault has tremendous potential after leading the team in receptions (17) and was second in yards (193) last season. Dimitri Stanley was second in receptions (16) but led the team with 249 yards.

Another young player with a ton of talent is Brenden Rice, who had just six receptions but recorded 120 yards and two touchdowns. Factoring in Maurice Bell, those four receivers combined for 48 receptions for 651 yards and four touchdowns.

Colorado finished seventh in the Pac-12 in catches (98), sixth in yards (1,209), 10th in yards per game (201.5) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (6) last season.


Chase Penry (3-star)

6. UCLA Bruins

The Bruins wasn’t as receiver heavy as other teams in the Pac-12 as they used Demetric Felton as a receiver and a running back. Chip Kelly still has some talented players at WR. Kyle Philips is the top returning player at the position after leading the team in receptions (38) and finishing second in yards (370).

Delon Hurt was another player that reached over 100 yards receiving in the shortened season. Chase Cota is another player to watch for. Those three players combined for 57 catches for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2020.

Among the Pac-12 teams in 2020, UCLA was fourth in receptions (130) and yards (1,571), along with sixth in yards per game (224.4) and first in touchdowns (18).


Keontez Lewis (3-star)

Ezavier Staples (3-star)

DJ Justice (3-star)

Kam Brown (Texas A&M)

5. Oregon State Beavers

I might be in the minority here but I feel that Oregon State’s receivers are better than the record indicated last season. Most of them are returning too. Five guys that are returning had over 100 yards last season in a shortened season.

Trevon Bradford led the Beavers in receptions (24) and yards (239). Tyjon Lindsey tied for the most touchdowns with three, as did Zeriah Beason. Tre’Shaun Harrison and Champ Flemings are also back as those five receivers combined for 70 receptions for 795 yards and 8 touchdowns last season.

The Beavers were solid in the passing game among the other Pac-12 teams last season. They finished third in receptions (134), fifth in yards (1,479), ninth in yards per game (211.3) and fourth in touchdowns (11).


Jimmy Valsin (3-star)

Makiya Tongue (Georgia)

4. BYU Cougars

Despite losing Zach Wilson at quarterback and their top receiver to the NFL in Dax Milne, BYU looks strong at wide receiver. They return Neil Pau’u who was second in receptions (45), third in yards (603) and third in touchdowns (4) last season. Gunner Romney is another dynamic playmaker after hauling in 39 receptions (3rd on team) for 767 yards (2nd) and two touchdowns (T-5th).

They added two really talented receivers in the portal with former Ute Samson Nacua and his brother Puka Nacua from Washington. Samson dealt with injuries during most of the 2020 season. Puka had nine receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown last season for the Huskies. Those four players combined for 97 catches for 1,550 yards and 8 touchdowns last season with their respective teams.


Puka Nacua (Washington)

Samson Nacua (Utah)

3. Stanford Cardinal

Despite losing two of their top receivers to the NFL, including Simi Fehoko, the Cardinal are full of talent at wide receiver. Brycen Tremayne, Michael Wilson and Elijah Higgins combined for 48 receptions for 702 yards and one touchdown.

Tremayne was second on the team with 265 yards, Wilson was third with 261 yards and Higgins was fourth with 176 yards last season. As a team, Stanford finished second in receptions (145), yards (1,724), and yards per game (287.3), along with fifth in touchdowns (7).


Jayson Raines (3-star)

2. USC Trojans

Another year and another USC team filled with talented wide receivers. They don’t rebuild at that position, they reload. Losing Amon-Ra St. Brown to the NFL hurts but they have plenty of talent on the roster.

Drake London is one of the top returning receivers, who was tied for second in catches (33), first in yards (502) and tied for second in touchdowns (3) last season. Bru McCoy has tremendous potential and showed some of that last season with 21 receptions (3rd on team) for 236 yards (4th) and two touchdowns (T-3rd) in 2020.

Three players join the Trojans from the transfer portal as they brought in Jake Smith from Texas, Tahj Washington from Memphis and K.D. Nixon from Colorado. They also have three recruits at the position from the 2021 recruiting class.

Last season, USC was first in nearly every receiving statistical category, including receptions (178), yards (1,916) and yards per game (319.3), while finishing second in touchdowns (17). That is all due to their air raid offense.


Michael Jackson (3-star)

Kyron Ware-Hudson (4-star)

Joseph Manjack (3-star)

Jake Smith (Texas)

Tahj Washington (Memphis)

K.D. Nixon (Colorado)

1. Oregon Ducks

With a young quarterback expected to be the starter, he will not be short of targets to throw to. Jaylon Redd led the team in receptions with 25 to go with 281 receiving yards, which is good for second on the team. Devon Williams was third in catches but had the most yards with 286. Johnny Johnson III will be a problem for opposing defenses as will Mycah Pittman.

Those four players combined for 67 receptions for 957 yards and five touchdowns last season. On top of that, Oregon signed three WR’s with four-star ratings. Last season, Oregon finished fifth in receptions (121), third in yards (1,723), fourth in yards per game (246.1) and third in touchdowns (15) in the Pac-12.


Troy Franklin (4-star)

Dont’e Thornton (4-star)

Isaiah Brevard (4-star)

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports. You can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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Utah Football: Ranking Opposing Wide Receivers Ahead Of 2021 Season