SEC Football: 5 Greatest Wide Receivers of BCS Era
The offseason brings us some great debates, and with the end of the Bowl Championship Series, this one seems like a great time to review the best wide receivers of the 16-year BCS era.
More debates featuring even more positions will be upcoming, but the series starts at the wide receiver slot.
Every member on our list but one has played since the 2006-06 season, following the upward trend in talent available nationwide for college football teams to choose from as well as the emergence of the Southeastern Conference as the sport's most elite conference.
The top five includes a consensus All-American, the league's leader in catches and receiving yards, and two 2013 players. The list is based on efficiency and talent, and only statistics from play as a wide receiver. Your favorite all-purpose player will likely have to wait for his own list.
Now, on to the rankings.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
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5. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (2010-2013)
Frankly, it's tough putting Matthews this low. No SEC wide receiver has had as prolific a career, thanks to both his ability and dedication to the Vanderbilt program.
His 262 catches and 3,759 yards are easily tops in the Southeastern Conference despite the giant proverbial bull's-eye he wore on his back in every game as one of the most important players to his program in conference history.
Matthews led the Vanderbilt program to three consecutive bowl appearances, an unprecedented feat for the 'Dores, and is projected by NFLDraftScout.com as a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
4. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (2009-2011)
Just one of two SEC wide receivers to manage 1,500 receiving yards in a single season, Jeffery's production in his sophomore season nearly doubled that of his third year.
He stands third in all-time SEC receiving yards and played a major role in South Carolina's surge to league prominence, including a SEC Championship Game appearance in 2010.
Jeffery was the 45th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and has accumulated 1,788 yards on 113 receptions with the Chicago Bears.
3. Sidney Rice, South Carolina (2005-2006)
A 2004 redshirt season proved beneficial to Rice, who broke South Carolina records with 70 receptions for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman. His sophomore season was nearly as prolific and the reigning Rivals.com National Freshman of the Year entered the season as an All-American.
Drafted 44th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, Rice has totaled 3,592 yards on 243 receptions for both the Vikings and his current team, the Seattle Seahawks.
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M (2012-2013)
Often overlooked in favor of Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, Evans' time at Texas A&M was nothing short of spectacular.
Though he only spent two seasons with the Aggies before declaring for the NFL draft, his average of 1,249.5 receiving yards per year is the conference's best in the BCS era and his 16.55 yards per reception rank third.
Just one of three SEC players to have two seasons of at least 1,100 receiving yards, Evans stands third all-time in SEC receiving yards per game at 96.1. His athleticism and eyes in the open field make him one of the conference's best of all time.
Evans is projected by NFLDraftScout.com as the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
1. Jabar Gaffney, Florida (2000-2001)
A consensus All-American, no other SEC wide receiver made an impact on the league in as short a time as Jabar Gaffney. Along with A&M's Evans and Vanderbilt's Matthews, Gaffney is one of only three to record 1,100 yards in two separate seasons and was arguably the most reliable go-to target the SEC has ever seen.
Gaffney stands atop the SEC record books at 103.3 receiving yards per game and 13.5 touchdowns per season while sitting second in both yards and receptions per year.
The Gators won 10 games and attended a BCS bowl in each of Gaffney's seasons under head coach Steve Spurrier.
He's accrued 5,690 yards and 24 touchdowns on 447 receptions in the NFL with the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins and, most recently, the Miami Dolphins.
- 6. Josh Reed, LSU (167 REC, 3001 YDS, 17 TD)
- 7. A.J. Green, Georgia (166 REC, 2,619 YDS., 23 TD)
- 8. Julio Jones, Alabama (179 REC, 2,653 YDS, 15 TD)
- 9. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt (236 REC, 2,852 YDS, 20 TD)
- 10. Terrence Edwards, Georgia (204 REC, 3,093 YDS, 30 TD)
- 11. Craig Yeast, Kentucky (208 REC, 2,899 YDS, 28 TD)
- 12. D.J. Hall, Alabama (194 REC, 2,923 YDS, 17 TD)