Photo courtesy of LSU athletics
As we move on from the SEC East wide receivers, we now take a look at the West division for our “Buying Stock” series.
Last season, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith resided in this group. There are big shoes to fill, but there is plenty of talent and potential to go around here.
Again, tight ends are included in these rankings. Lets take a closer look:
Gone are DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle to the NFL, which both are huge losses. Still, there is a lot of talent here. When you take a look at who returns, Alabama has to be happy with John Metchie as the top returning guy. Last season, Metchie quietly finished with 916 receiving yards despite playing in the shadow of the two aforementioned top-10 NFL Draft picks.
What should take this group to another level are the newcomers. Freshman Agiye Hall flashed some serious athleticism this spring, and has the makings to be Alabama’s next great receiver. Along with other highly-rated recruits, Alabama adds Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams. Like Hall, Williams has flashed a lot of potential in his time with the Buckeyes.
Jahleel Billingley is huge for this group, as he is one of the more dynamic tight ends in the nation. He can line up all over the field, and even saw time returning kicks. He is a rare talent for this position and should be one of the best in the league.
This group won’t be as productive as they were a year ago, but should continue to be one of the best in the entire country.
Mike Woods hitting the portal is a huge loss, but this is still a very talented group. The headliner here is Treylon Burks, who is widely considered one of the best pass catchers in college football. Burks finished with 820 yards last year, and could have even more in 2021. Trey Knox is also a experienced guy who can make a push for the No. 2 wide receiver spot.
Getting De’Vion Warren back from injury is huge; he showed plenty of big-play ability when he was healthy. Ketron Jackson comes in as a freshman who can provide an immediate spark. In short, this is a receivers room with three or four guys who could be gamechangers.
At tight end, Arkansas is very deep with Hudson Henry and Blake Kern. Both are very experienced and will split time.
Arkansas was good out wide in 2020, but could hit its stride in coordinator Kendal Briles’ second season running the offense.
Auburn loses its top three receivers to the NFL in Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz, and Eli Stove. Obviously, there is going to be some drop-off in production here. The top returning guys are Ze’Vian Capers, Kobe Hudson, and Elijah Canion. Of the three, Canion was the leading receiver, finishing with 81 yards in just one game. Ja’varrius Johnson and Malcolm Johnson Jr. are also breakout candidates.
Auburn did hit the portal to bring in Demetris Robertson from Georgia. His production might be based on whether he can stay healthy. Production and experience-wise, he is the best Auburn has.
This is a wide receivers group that has potential, but is very young. Struggles come with youth. We can expect some of that at wide receiver for Auburn in 2021.
The tight end situation is one of the best in the conference. Auburn has five or six guys that it believes it can count on. Still, will that be enough to take Auburn’s passing game to the next level?
Not only does LSU practically return everyone at wide receiver, but it is playing in a system that Justin Jefferson and Ja’marr Chase thrived in. Kayshon Boutte is the clear No. 1 guy after finishing with over 700 yards as a true freshman. LSU needs someone to step up as the No. 2 receiver. With the likes of Koy Moore and Trey Palmer, the Tigers have guys to provide depth on the back end.
Fortunately, LSU does bring in some talented freshmen from the 2020 class. Most notable is Deion Smith, a top-70 receiver prospect out of Jackson, Miss., according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
At tight end, LSU suffered a huge loss in Arik Gilbert, and it will be super difficult to replace him. Even with the loss of Gilbert, Jake Peetz as the offensive coordinator should be able to make huge improvements with this group.
Mississippi State: Buying
Gone is Osirus Mitchell, but Mike Leach’s squad returns three of its top four receivers. Jaden Walley returns after silently putting up 718 yards as a true freshman. Walley will undoubtedly be the top target for Mississippi State in 2021. On top of that, Mississippi State returns Austin Williams and Malik Heath to round out the group.
Teams under Leach tend to take a jump after their first year, and Mississippi State shouldn’t be an exception. This is a group that should have no shortage of opportunities in 2021. They will surely out-produce their 2020 season.
Ole Miss: Buying
Ole Miss will have to replace its leading receivers in Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah, and it has the personnel and scheme to do so. The trio of Dontario Drummond, Braylon Sanders, and Jonathan Mingo is one of the best in the conference. When you add into account how much Ole Miss is going to throw the ball around, don’t be shocked to see one of these three break out for 1,000 yards.
Guys like Jahcour Pearson and even John Rhys Plumlee should give the Rebels some nice depth here. At tight end, replacing Yeboah will be difficult. Casey Kelly is expected to be the starter there for Ole Miss.
Replacing Moore and Yeboah won’t be easy, but it has some younger guys with both talent and experience. Expect some of these guys to double and potentially triple their production from 2020.
Texas A&M: Buying
The Aggies return each of their top eight leading receivers, including Ainias Smith. Smith was A&M’s leading receiver in 2020, and also saw time in the backfield. Regardless where you put him, he is going to go out and make plays. On top of that, Chase Lane and Oscar Chapman return after proving to be reliable in 2020; both could take an even bigger step forward.
The biggest wild card is second-year Demond Demas. As a freshman, Demas didn’t record a single reception. Still, the former five-star has the athleticism and skill-set to be one of the best in the conference.
At tight end, one could argue that the Aggies have the best in the nation. Jalen Wydermeyer can hurt the defense in a lot of ways, but mostly in the red zone. He is a match-up nightmare who can just simply outplay everyone.