The college football season is approaching. There is always debate over ranking the best players in the sport. Here are the top 25 college football wide receivers heading into the 2022 season.
Note: While projection of what a player can be is taken into account, most rankings are from what has been seen on the field so far. These are not NFL Draft rankings, but rather focus on the best players in college football.
25. Tahj Washington, USC Trojans
Washington played two seasons at Memphis before transferring to USC before last season. For the Trojans, he had 54 receptions for 602 yards and one touchdown. For the production over his career, he deserves to be ranked. Lincoln Riley’s offense could help, but he also has other talented receivers coming into the program who could hurt his productivity.
24. Dante Cephas, Kent State Golden Flashes
Cephas had two really mundane seasons, but then turned it on last season for the Golden Flashes. He finished the 2021 season with 82 receptions for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns. After being one of the leading receivers in college football last season, Cephas will hope to lead the team to another bowl game in 2022.
23. Jalen Cropper, Fresno State Bulldogs
Over his three seasons of college football, Cropper has steadily improved. His best season was last when he caught 85 passes for 899 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fresno State had a good season and this year will be looking to make a New Year’s Six Bowl Game with Cropper and quarterback Jake Haener back leading the way.
22. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland Terrapins
Maryland has a solid receiving core for the 2022 season and Jarrett is among the best. He had 62 receptions for 829 yards and five touchdowns in 2021. While he may have to fight for targets with other receivers, he will also not face as much double coverage with so many different threats on the field.
21. Keytaon Thompson, Virginia Cavaliers
Thompson was a quarterback early in his career with Mississippi State, but has since become a huge matchup problem for defenses at wide receiver. The 2021 season saw Thompson grow into a great player with 78 receptions for 990 yards and four touchdowns. Look for him to use his body well and show off his catch radius in 2022.
20. Zay Flowers, Boston College Eagles
While Flowers saw his production dip in 2021, a lot of that was a result of quarterback Phil Jurkovec injuring his hand. The star wideout still had 44 receptions for 746 yards and five touchdowns. With Jurkovec back healthy, Flowers has the opportunity to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
19. Ainias Smith, Texas A&M Aggies
Although charges were dropped, Smith is suspended and could miss some time this season. This could limit him, but when Smith is able to play he shows off great run-after-the-catch ability. In 2021 he caught 47 passes for 509 yards and six touchdowns. He has also been a running threat, which adds a small wrinkle to the Texas A&M offense.
18. Nathaniel Dell, Houston Cougars
Dell is very quick, which helps him be productive for Houston. He teamed with Clayton Tune last season to put up 90 catches for 1,329 yards and 12 touchdowns. With Tune also returning for the 2022 season, Dell’s production should look very similar, as he looks to help the team make a New Year’s Six Bowl.
17. Dontay Demus, Maryland Terrapins
Due to injury, Demus was only able to play in five games during the 2021 season. He still caught 28 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns. With Jarrett, Demus creates a lot of potential for the Maryland offense and team overall this season.
16. Mitchell Tinsley, Penn State Nittany Lions
The Western Kentucky offense exploded last season and Tinsley helped the dynamic passing attack. He caught 87 passes for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns, as his quarterback Bailey Zappe broke records. He now joins a Penn State team that has plenty of good receivers, but he had the best production of them all. Tinsley is getting his chance to prove himself against some of the best competition in college football.
15. Jermaine Burton, Alabama Crimson Tide
Burton had two straight seasons with at least 400 receiving yards with Georgia. He helped the team win the National Championship, then decided to transfer to the team that they defeated in that game, Alabama. He is the leader in a young receiving room and is likely going to be Bryce Young‘s favorite target as he defends his Heisman.
14. Jacob Cowing, Arizona Wildcats
At UTEP last season, Cowing had one of the best seasons of any wide receiver. He caught 69 passes for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns. Following the season, he decided to transfer to Arizona. He will be joined by Jayden De Laura who was a solid quarterback for Washington State last season, as they try to turn around the Wildcats’ fortunes.
13. Parker Washington, Penn State Nittany Lions
Even with Jahan Dotson in the offense, Washington had 64 receptions for 820 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. Other talented receivers joining him, but Washington is the leader of the group heading into 2022. He showed the ability to make acrobatic catches last season and should show up on some highlight-reels this season.
12. Jayden Reed, Michigan State Spartans
Reed had one good season at Western Michigan before transferring to Michigan State for the last two seasons. Last season was his best yet, as he grabbed 59 balls for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is another player who made plenty of eye-popping catches last season.
11. Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State Cyclones
After two good seasons with Iowa State, Hutchinson is back for another with the Cyclones. He has 147 catches for 1,758 receiving yards and nine touchdowns at Iowa State. He’ll be breaking in a new quarterback this season, but the productivity could stay similar to past seasons.
10. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma Sooners
Mims has two straight seasons of having at least 600 receiving yards. Last season, he had 32 catches for 705 yards and five touchdowns, despite Oklahoma changing up quarterbacks. Dillon Gabriel comes in as the new quarterback and Mims will be the featured receiver in the offense.
9. Quentin Johnston, TCU Horned Frogs
Johnston looks like a big-time receiver with his size and it helps him make contested catches. He had 33 catches for 634 yards and six touchdowns despite playing in just eight games during the 2021 season. Johnston staying healthy opens up the TCU offense, which they’ll need in 2022.
8. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee’s offense exploded last year with the Hendon Hooker-Cedric Tillman combination really paying off. Tillman finished the year with 64 receptions for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was the first time in his college career that Tillman has produced at a high level and will want to keep that momentum going this season.
7. Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia Cavaliers
Wicks came out of nowhere to be one of the best receivers in the ACC last season. He reeled in 57 passes for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns to lead Virginia. With quarterback Brennan Armstrong back too, Virginia should have an enticing offense.
6. Xavier Worthy, Texas Longhorns
Worthy had a fantastic freshman season for the Longhorns, finishing the year with 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. Steve Sarkisian has taken over the Texas program and should have the offense taking a step forward.
5. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest had one of the best offenses in college football last season and Perry had a gigantic impact. He caught 71 passes for 1,293 yards and 15 touchdowns. With quarterback Sam Hartman and him returning, it is expected that the Demon Deacons will put some points on the board again.
4. Josh Downs, North Carolina Tar Heels
Last season, North Carolina had to replace a lot of their offensive weapons surrounding Sam Howell. After having 119 receiving yards in 2020, Downs emerged as a star with 101 catches for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns. Even with a new quarterback in 2022, Downs can prove he is one of the best receivers at the collegiate level.
3. Kayshon Boutte, LSU Tigers
Due to injury, Boutte was able to play in just six games last season. He caught 38 passes for 509 yards and nine touchdowns in his half-season of action. Not only is Boutte a good college receiver, but he projects to be a very good NFL one as well.
2. Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes
Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were on the roster last season, but Smith-Njigba still proved to be a great receiver. He had a legendary Rose Bowl performance, which brought his season totals to 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. The Buckeyes have more talent at wide receiver coming up, so look for them to move Smith-Njigba around on offense, in and out of the slot.
1. Jordan Addison, USC Trojans
After winning the Biletnikoff Award last season, Addison decided to make the move to USC this season. He had 1,593 receiving yards on 100 catches for 17 touchdowns. Now, he joins a USC roster that is loaded with transfer talent and will be looking to reinvigorate the program.
Notable Wide Receivers Outside the top 25
Mario Williams, USC Trojans- Williams has been listed as one of the best receivers in college football by others, but he simply hasn’t produced enough yet. A season with Lincoln Riley should have him shooting up this list quickly.
Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes- Harrison looked good in the Rose Bowl and has plenty of talent. This year will be a bigger chance to show what he can do.
Isaiah Neyor, Texas Longhorns- Neyor had nearly 900 receiving yards with the Wyoming Cowboys in 2021. He will be a nice sidekick for Worthy this season.
Puka Nacua, BYU Cougars- While he wasn’t a major factor at Washington in his first two seasons, Nacua stepped it up with BYU in 2021. He had 805 receiving yards.
Thayer Thomas, NC State Wolfpack- Thomas has had two-straight seasons with over 500 receiving yards and his production should increase again.
Ali Jennings, Old Dominion- When he didn’t get a lot of touches at West Virginia, Jennings made the move to Old Dominion. He then had a good season with 62 catches for 1,066 yards and five touchdowns.
Brennan Pressley, Oklahoma State Cowboys- Pressley is the frontrunner to lead the Cowboys in receiving after having 619 receiving yards for the 2021 season.
Ronnie Bell, Michigan Wolverines- Bell was injured last year just one game into the 2021 season and missed the College Football Playoff run. When healthy, he has produced to rank on this list and may move up once he regains his form.
Chris Autman-Bell, Minnesota Golden Gophers- With his four years at Minnesota, Autman-Bell has been moderately productive, but has the talent to do more.
Elijah Higgins, Stanford Cardinal- Higgins is a well-built player who had 500 receiving yards last season for the Cardinals. The offense needs to improve, which would increase his production.
Ryan O’Keefe, UCF Knights- O’Keefe is a player that has shown progression every season at UCF. In 2021, he had 84 catches for 812 yards and could put up even better numbers in 2022.
Rashee Rice, SMU Mustangs- Rice has two straight seasons with over 600 receiving yards, but this year should provide him more opportunities, as other pass-catchers have moved on.
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