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Position University: Wide Receiver

The concept of “Position University” is often thrown around during the NFL draft when a particular college has several players of the same position break into the league over a short span. However, I think a deeper look at the draft may reveal some other interesting things about what colleges may be able to truly make the claim they are “WR U” or “QB U” or whatever.

In this, the third chapter of Position University, we will pick the school – or schools – that have produced the best, most productive, and most impressive Wide Receivers. Like before, we’ll restrict the study to drafts since 1990, however that will still leave an enormous number of players to consider. Since the Cowboys selected Alexander Wright from Auburn in the 2nd round of the ’90 draft a whopping 1,028 WRs have heard their name from the podium. 215 different universities are represented with 132 of those producing at least 2 draftees. Keep in mind, players often do change positions after being drafted, in those cases if a player was a WR at the time of the draft they’re considered in the initial count. Then after being drafted, at least one target or carry qualifies then for a “year” in the longevity discussion. Converting to TE, like Central Missouri St. standout Delanie Walker, or RB, like Stanford alum Ty Montgomery, does not exclude a player from the study. QB converts such as Ohio St.’s Braxton Miller or Alabama-Birmingham’s Joe Webb also count.

A few novelties first. The greatest one-hit-wonder is Central Michigan’s Antonio Brown. He was selected in the 6th Round in 2010 and personally accounts for one-eighth of the 152 6th Round picks’ receiving yards since 1990. The only number one overall came from perennial Pac-12 power USC. Keyshawn Johnson was selected by the Jets with the first pick in 1996. Over his 11-year, 4-team career, Keyshawn was a superstar and headlined what was probably the greatest single WR draft in history. Other significant names include Syracuse’s Marvin Harrison, Tennessee-Chattanooga star Terrell Owens, and Michigan St. Spartan Muhsin Muhammad. Ten names in all ended up with 7000+ career yards from ’96, no other draft had more than six.

The 1st round is where great WRs come from. Despite accounting for only 11% of the total picks, 1st rounders have accrued 30% of the stats and 20% of the years of production. 53 different schools have graduated 1st round WRs with 13 producing 3 or more. The 1st round is not completely free of busts however, excluding the last 3 drafts, 12 different 1st round picks have failed to survive three years in the league. The worst 1st round pick is probably Oklahoma St product Rashaun Woods who went 31st overall to the 49ers in 2004 but only managed 7 catches for 160 yards and a lone TD in his 14 game career.

On the other side of the spectrum, a couple of low picks made their mark. Of the 238 WRs taken in the 7th round or later (when the draft was 12 rounds), five of them piled up 7000+ yards. Shawn Jefferson from Central Florida (7023), TJ Houshmandzadeh from Oregon St (7237), Hofstra’s Marques Colston (9759), Donald Driver of Alcorn St (10137), and UNLV’s Keenan McCardell, the greatest 12th round pick in history (maybe?) with 11373 receiving yards.

Seven schools have produced 20+ WRs since 1990. Ohio St. and Florida with 28 each lead the pack followed by Miami (FL) with 26, USC with 25, LSU and FSU with 24, and Tennessee with 22. The first five plus Michigan are the only six schools whose WR draftees compiled 100+ years in the league. Tennesse is one year short with four active Vols making 100 look almost guaranteed for them next year as well. 13 schools’ WRs have accrued 30,000+ receiving yards but only 4 can boast of over 50,000. Those 4 schools check off each the criteria mentioned here with 20+ picks, 100+ years, and 50,000 yards making them the key contestants for WR U – Ohio St, Miami (FL), LSU, and USC.

YearRndNameTeamCollegeYrsRu YdsRec Yds
19915Gary WellmanOILUSC33542
19931Curtis ConwayCHIUSC124658230
19934Travis HannahOILUSC35166
19941Johnnie MortonDETUSC124048719
19955Edward HerveyDALUSC000
19961Keyshawn JohnsonNYJUSC119110571
19977Chris MillerGBPUSC000
19994Larry ParkerKCCUSC3-1240
19997Billy MillerDENUSC902248
20001R Jay SowardJAXUSC128154
20005Windrell HayesNYJUSC22126
20036Kareem KellyNOSUSC000
20042Keary ColbertCARUSC661629
20051Mike WilliamsDETUSC501526
20072Dwayne JarrettCARUSC411428
20072Steve SmithNYGUSC602641
20093Patrick TurnerMIAUSC40122
20103Damian WilliamsTENUSC551327
20116Ronald JohnsonSF49USC000
20117David AusberryOAKUSC3-2120
20132Robert WoodsBUFUSC83205690
20142Marqise LeeJAXUSC51002184
20151Nelson AgholorPHIUSC6602538
20172JuJu Smith-SchusterPITUSC4132964
20202Michael Pittman JrINDUSC1
Trojan WRs – bold denotes active

We’d already discussed the Trojan’s star pupil, Mr. Number One, Keyshawn Johnson. He leads a strong group including a pair of 8000-yard men Curtis Conway and Johnnie Morton and active studs Robert Woods and JuJu Smith-Schuster. There are certainly a few busts/disappointments scattered in there as well, none more painful than Detroit’s ’05 pick Mike Williams. Also of note, five different times the Trojans saw a pair of WRs selected in the same draft.

YearRndNameTeamCollegeYrsRu YdsRec Yds
19904Tony MossCHILSU000
199111Slip WatkinsDETLSU000
199111Bobby SlaughterSF49LSU000
19923Todd KinchenSTLLSU7701358
19961Eddie KennisonSTLLSU132828345
20022Josh ReedBUFLSU8573575
20041Michael ClaytonTBBLSU81002955
20042Devery HendersonNOSLSU91194377
20064Skyler GreenDALLSU2133
20067Bennie BrazellCINLSU000
20071Dwayne BoweKCCLSU9167208
20071Craig DavisSDCLSU413558
20083Early DoucetARZLSU5141491
20097Demetrius ByrdSDCLSU000
20103Brandon LaFellCARLSU91305398
20106Trindon HollidayHOULSU3717
20122Rueben RandleNYGLSU402644
20141Odell Beckham JrNYGLSU7846607
20142Jarvis LandryMIALSU71896295
20147James WrightCINLSU224197
20177Malachi DupreGBPLSU000
20182DJ CharkJAXLSU3201207
20186Russell GageATLLSU312623
20201Justin JeffersonMINLSU1
Tiger WRs – Bold denotes active

The Bayou Bengals have a more evenly distributed selection of standout performers. No LSU alum has hit the 10,000-yard mark yet but five have over 5,000 and Landry and Beckham seem destined for many more. Craig Davis easily the most disappointing early selection of the bunch but injuries prevented him from establishing himself.

YearRndNameTeamCollegeYrsRu YdsRec Yds
19909Dale DawkinsNYJMiami (FL)40106
19911Randal HillMIAMiami (FL)7153849
19912Wesley CarrollNOSMiami (FL)30557
199112Alex JohnsonOILMiami (FL)100
19932Kevin WilliamsDALMiami (FL)81672314
19933Lamar ThomasTBBMiami (FL)651558
19934Horace CopelandTBBMiami (FL)5341977
19953Chris T JonesPHIMiami (FL)30993
19957AC TellisonCLEMiami (FL)000
19971Yatil GreenMIAMiami (FL)10234
19976Tony GaiterNEPMiami (FL)000
19983Jammi GermanATLMiami (FL)40294
20011Santana MossNYJMiami (FL)1428710283
20011Reggie WayneINDMiami (FL)14014345
20017Andre KingCLEMiami (FL)40327
20027Daryl JonesNYGMiami (FL)2490
20031Andre JohnsonHOUMiami (FL)145414185
20052Roscoe ParrishBUFMiami (FL)8711502
20062Sinorice MossNYGMiami (FL)44421
20113Leonard HankersonWASMiami (FL)551408
20124Travis BenjaminCLEMiami (FL)82683143
20126Tommy StreeterBALMiami (FL)000
20151Phillip DorsettINDMiami (FL)5841634
20177Stacy ColeyMINMiami (FL)000
20186Braxton BerriosNEPMiami (FL)10115
20206KJ OsbornMINMiami (FL)1
Hurricane WRs – Bold denotes active

RB U (Miami), if you recall, also has a strong claim on the WR title as well. The 2001 draft in particular produced a pair of 10,000-yard men in Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne and then two years later the Houston Texans great Andre Johnson added a third. However, those three giants stand well above the rest of the list which is littered with busts such as Yatil Green, Sinorice Moss, and Jammi German.

YearRndNameTeamCollegeYrsRu YdsRec Yds
19912Jeff GrahamPITOSU1108172
199111Bobby OliveKCCOSU200
19938Brian StableinDENOSU60792
19951Joey GallowaySEAOSU1649610950
19953Chris SandersOILOSU7-363285
19961Terry GlennNEPOSU121398823
19991David BostonARZOSU6914699
19996Dee MillerGBPOSU000
20017Reggie GermanyBUFOSU10203
20017Ken-Yon RamboOAKOSU20239
20041Michael JenkinsATLOSU944427
20045Drew CarterCAROSU318977
20061Santonio HolmesPITOSU9896030
20071Ted GinnMIAOSU144865702
20071Anthony GonzalezINDOSU501307
20075Roy HallINDOSU209
20092Brian RobiskieCLEOSU50485
20094Brian HartlineMIAOSU7654766
20123DeVier PoseyHOUOSU3-3272
20152Devin SmithNYJOSU30248
20156Evan SpencerWASOSU000
20162Michael ThomasNOSOSU5-95529
20163Braxton MillerHOUOSU21261
20172Curtis SamuelCAROSU42831274
20177Noah BrownDALOSU3087
20192Parris CampbellINDOSU243198
20193Terry McLaurinWASOSU20980
20207KJ HillLACOSU0
Buckeye WRs – Bold denotes active

Ohio State boasts the most active WRs with a whopping 9 (Clemson – 7, Notre Dame, Georgia, Mississippi – 6) along with the most total years (141) and total receiving yards (69,715) since 1990. Joey Galloway, 1st rounder in 1995, is their top yardage man while five others have 5,000+ in their careers. Michael Thomas is a consensus top-3 WR right now and would seem to be a slam dunk to overtake Galloway for the OSU yardage mark later this decade. Even the mighty Buckeyes have a few busts including current Free Agent Devin Smith, ’09 2nd rounder Brian Robiskie, and ’07 1st rounder Anthony Gonzalez.

Position University WideStuds

Many more schools have decent claims, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and more recently Mississippi and Clemson, however, I think the answer is Ohio State. So what do you think? Do the Buckeyes deserve the title WR U? Let me know in the comments below and keep your eyes on AEE.com for all your sports and entertainment needs.

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