Pac-12 Football: 11 Greatest WRs of the BCS Era
During college football’s BCS era, the Pac-12 was mostly known for its top-notch quarterbacks and fast running backs.
However, the conference also had its fair share of talented wide receivers.
Since 1999, the Pac-12 boasts four Fred Biletnikoff Award winners—awarded to the nation’s best wide receiver. In fact, the award’s last two winners hail from within the conference.
Join B/R as we take a look at the best the Pac-12 has to offer in terms of wide receivers.
Author’s note: This list only contains receivers from the BCS Era (1999-2013). Given the differences in competition, rules and what not from year to year, these players are listed in no order.
Troy Walters (Stanford)
Seasons: 4 (1996-99)
Career Stats: 244 REC, 3,986 YDS, 26 TDS
Although Troy Walters only played a single season in the BCS era, it’s hard not to include the Pac-12’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
A threat from all over the field, Walters was one of the most dangerous receivers during his time. He could score in the passing attack, during kick returns or off punt returns.
In fact, Walters returned a total of 111 kicks for 1,399 yards and three touchdowns over his career.
His best season came in 1999, when Walters hauled in 74 passes for 1,456 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the Pac-10 in both receiving yards and touchdowns while ranking No. 2 in receptions and No. 3 in yards per reception (19.7).
Walters was drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings during the 2000 NFL Draft.
James Newson (Oregon State)
Seasons: 4 (2000-03)
Career Stats: 213 REC, 3,572 YDS, 20 TDS
James Newson was a key member of the Oregon State squads that made it to three bowl games from 2000-03.
After seeing the field sparsely in his freshman season, the Stockton, Calif., native took off. He increased his production in each of the next three years, topping the 1,000-yard mark in receiving during the final two.
Although Newson never led the NCAA or Pac-10 in any category, he was always consistent. Year in and year out, the Beavers knew they had a wide receiver who could help move the ball down the field.
Surprisingly, Newson never made it into the NFL.
Reggie Williams (Washington)
Seasons: 3 (2001-03)
Career Stats: 238 REC, 3,536 YDS, 22 TDS
From the minute he took the field as a freshman in 2001, Reggie Williams lit up opposing secondaries.
After recording 973 yards on just 55 receptions in 2001, the Landstuhl, Germany, native topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving the next two seasons. That included leading the Pac-10 in both receptions (94) and receiving (1,454) in 2002.
For his performance, Williams was a consensus All-American that year.
At 6’4” and 212 pounds, there was a lot of hype surrounding Williams as he entered the 2004 NFL Draft. Not surprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him No. 9 overall.
Unfortunately, Williams never quite leveled up to those high expectations.
Mike Williams (USC)
Seasons: 2 (2002-03)
Career Stats: 176 REC, 2,579 YDS, 30 TDS
Mike Williams accomplished as much in two seasons with USC as many other wide receivers could only dream to accomplish in four.
In his only two seasons of college football, Williams topped 1,200 yards receiving and found the end zone at least 14 times in both years. He led the Pac-10 in receiving touchdowns and finished second in the nation both times.
But that’s not all. Williams also went 3-of-3 passing for a touchdown and also blocked a field goal.
Although he was selected No. 10 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2005 NFL Draft, Williams failed to live up to his hype.
Oh, what could have been.
Derek Hagan (Arizona State)
Seasons: 4 (2002-05)
Career Stats: 258 REC, 3,939 YDS, 27 TDS
In four seasons with Arizona State, Derek Hagan had one heck of a career.
After playing sparingly during his freshman season, the Northridge, Calif., native began to find his groove. He topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving in each of his final three seasons with the Sun Devils, including going for 1,248 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2004.
Hagan ranks second all-time in Pac-12 history in career receptions and career receiving yards. He also finished his career as Arizona State’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, 100-yard games (18) and career receiving yards per game (78.8).
A three-time All-American, Hagan was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Mike Hass (Oregon State)
Seasons: 3 (2003-05)
Career Stats: 220 REC, 3924 YDS, 20 TDS
Although Oregon State may produce many stellar wide receivers, none had a better collegiate career than Mike Hass.
After spending much of 2002 as a special teams player, the Portland, Ore., native eventually gained a starting spot in 2003. He rewarded the coaching staff’s faith in him by putting up three-straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, including a then-Pac-10 single-season record 1,532 yards in 2005—he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award that season.
What made Hass’ numbers even more impressive was the fact that he was a walk-on.
To this day, the 31-year-old currently ranks third all-time in the Pac-12 in receiving. He also holds several school records, including being the all-time career leader in receiving yards and receptions.
Hass was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Dwayne Jarrett (USC)
Seasons: 3 (2004-06)
Career Stats: 216 REC, 3,138 YDS, 41 TDS
Only a few receivers have found the end zone more than Dwayne Jarrett in NCAA history.
The New Brunswick, N.J., native’s 41 career receiving touchdowns ranks No. 9 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the Pac-12. He also ranks No. 11 in the Pac-12 in total touchdowns.
During his three-year career, Jarrett was as consistent as you could be. He found the end zone at least 12 times every season.
Jarrett’s breakout season came in 2005 when he finished second in both the NCAA and Pac-10 in receiving yards (1,274), led the conference in receptions (91) and led both the NCAA and Pac-10 in receiving touchdowns (16).
A consensus All-American in 2005 and 2006, Jarrett was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in the 2007 NFL Draft.
DeSean Jackson (Cal)
Seasons: 3 (2005-07)
Career Stats: 162 REC, 2,423 YDS, 22 TDS; 24 CAR, 199 YDS, 1 TD
These days, DeSean Jackson is known as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
But what’s often forgotten is the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles standout was also very good at the collegiate level.
Without context, Jackson’s career numbers are rather modest. He fails to rank among the top 30 in the conference in receptions, receiving yards or touchdowns.
However, whenever Jackson had the ball in his hands, he was a threat to score.
The Long Beach, Calif., native also starred at Cal in returning punts. He took back 38 punts over his three-year career, accounting for 633 return yards and six touchdowns—including four in 2006 alone.
Not surprisingly, Jackson was taken in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Robert Woods (USC)
Seasons: 3 (2010-12)
Career Stats: 252 REC, 2,930 YDS, 32 TDS
It’s hard to shine when you share the field with a stud receiver like Marqise Lee.
But that’s exactly what Woods did in two seasons with Lee in 2011 and 2012.
Ironically, the Gardena, Calif., native’s best season came in Lee’s freshman year in 2011. Woods caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, ranking first in the Pac-12 in both receptions and touchdowns.
But what also makes Woods dangerous is his ability in the return game.
In two seasons as the returner, Woods returned 55 kicks for 1,364 yards and a touchdown. That includes leading the Pac-10 in return yards (971) in 2010.
A consensus All-American in 2011, Woods was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)
Seasons: 3 (2011-13)
Career Stats: 226 REC, 3,272 YDS, 24 TDS; 61 CAR, 340 YDS, 2 TDS
Who knows how many records Brandin Cooks would have broken had he chosen to come back for his senior season.
Instead, we can only look back at his three-year career at Oregon State as one of the best the Pac-12 has ever seen.
In 2013, Cooks had one of the best single-seasons any wide receiver in the conference has had. He finished with Pac-12 single-season records of 128 receptions and 1,730 receiving yards while finding the end zone 16 times.
Deservedly so, Cooks earned the Fred Biletnikoff Award for his efforts.
The Stockton, Calif., native was a threat to take it to the house anytime he touched the football. Cooks also proved dangerous in the rushing attack.
Look for him to continue his stellar play in the NFL.
Marqise Lee (USC)
Seasons: 3 (2011-13)
Career Stats: 248 REC, 3,655 YDS, 29 TDS
One can only imagine what Marqise Lee could have accomplished if he had even just a decent quarterback throwing him the ball in 2013.
Still, the Inglewood, Calif., native finished off a stellar career with USC by finishing ranked No. 5 all-time in the Pac-12 in career receptions and No. 4 in career receiving yards. Furthermore, his 1,721 yards receiving in 2012 ranks nine yards short of the Pac-12 single-season record.
But Lee didn’t just stand out in the passing game, he also contributed on kick returns, taking back 50 kicks for 1,305 yards and two scores.
In 2012, Lee became the first Trojan to bring home the Fred Biletnikoff Award. He also finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year.
Although he had a poor season in 2013 by his standards—57 REC, 791 YDS, 4 TDS—Lee is still expected to be a top prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft.
All stats and rankings are courtesy of CFBStats.
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