Ranking Big East’s No. 1 Wide Receivers
8. Deon Miller (Temple)
2011 Stats: 18 REC, 253 YDS, 3 TD
No Owls receiver had more than 35 catches in 2011, when they used a punishing ground game en route to nine wins. Temple ran for 3,335 and 38 rushing scores with Bernard Pierce (1,481 yards, 27 TDs) and Matt Brown (916, 6) leading the way. We don’t think that Steve Addazio’s philosophy will change in 2012.
But with their top three receivers - in terms of catches and yards - gone this season, the Owls will look to Miller, a three-star recruit who tied for the team lead with two others players with three touchdown catches. In addition, Pierce also is gone this season, meaning that Temple might not be as committed to the run. We’re just not sure how much the sophomore Miller can give them as a No. 1 receiver.
Photo: Rick Osentoski/US Presswire
7. Mike Smith (Connecticut)
2010 Stats: 46 REC, 615 YDS, 2 TD
Last season, the Huskies failed to return to a bowl one season after a shocking trip to the Fiesta Bowl. It was due in part to below average quarterback play that produced a less-than-stellar passing game. Kashif Moore - who now is on the roster of the Cincinnati Bengals - and Isiah Moore were UConn’s two leading receivers.
With both of them gone in 2012, Connecticut will welcome back Smith, their leading receiver during that Fiesta season in 2010 who was ineligible to play last fall thanks to academic issues. His 45 catches, 615 yards and two TDs from his last campaign on the field and his experience as a fifth-year senior will be welcomed this coming fall.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
6. DeVante Parker (Louisville)
2011 Stats: 18 REC, 291 YDS, 6 TD
It promises to be a big year for coach Charlie Strong and Louisville, which should challenge for the Big East title in 2012. Parker will team up with a fellow rising sophomore, QB Teddy Bridgewater, to form an exciting 1-2 combination. As for Parker, he was the fourth-leading receiver in catches and yards but led the Cardinals with six TD grabs.
An explosive, big-play wide out, Parker has elite physical skills at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. The Louisville native has lots of jaw-dropping plays ahead of him in his career.
Photo: Kim Klement/US Presswire
5. Devin Street (Pitt)
2011 Stats: 53 REC, 754 YDS, 2 TD
We think the focus with be on the ground game at Pitt for a few reasons. New head coach Paul Chryst, famous for a ground-and-pound style at Wisconsin, has arrived and star running back Ray Graham will return from injury. That’s not even to mention that highly touted recruit RB Rushel Shell will arrive on campus as well.
That’s all the better for Street, who put up the stellar numbers you see above despite inconsistent quarterback play. We think that the running attack and overall influence of Chryst will help this talented Pennsylvania native.
Photo: Charles LeClaire/US Presswire
4. Sterling Griffin (USF)
2011 Stats: 43 REC, 530 YDS, 3 TD
The only thing holding back Griffin has been injuries. He redshirted in 2010 after starting 10 games during his true freshman season the year before. And last season, he missed four of the last five games of the season - returning for the regular-season finale against West Virginia on Dec. 1 after not having played since October. Needless to say, he wasn’t in midseason form in that game in which he still had three catches for 37 yards and a TD.
With all that said, Griffin still was the Bulls’ leader in catches and receiving yards while tying for the lead in receiving TDs. We expect a big season from Griffin at full strength and with the expected emergence of QB B.J. Daniels.
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Photo: Danny Wild/US Presswire
3. Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
2011 Stats: 17 REC, 552 YDS, 6 TD
The 2011 Rutgers passing game can be defined by two words: Mohamed Sanu. Now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, Sanu was one of the best wide outs in the country with 115 catches for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns last season. But the light will be shed on Coleman this fall with Sanu gone.
Coleman showed definite ability in 2011, as six of his 17 catches were for touchdowns. The massive 6-foot-6, 220-pounder showed a glimpse of what he can do in the No. 1 role in the regular-season finale for Rutgers vs. Connecticut. He snagged six passes for 223 yards and two scores. Sounds like a top wide out to us.
Photo: Anthony Gruppuso/US Presswire
2. Anthony McClung (Cincinnati)
2011 Stats: 49 REC, 683 YDS, 6 TD
It will be a new look for the Bearcats in 2012, when they will be without QB Zach Collaros and leading rusher Isaiah Pead. But they will have McClung, Cincy’s leading receiver in all categories last season. He was a consistent player, making his presence felt in each contest except his one-grab, eight-yard output in the Liberty Bowl, but only once was he spectacular. McClung put up eight catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Connecticut.
We will see how McClung works with new dual-threat quarterback Munchie Legaux as Butch Jones tries to make Year 3 just as successful as Year 2.
Photo: David Butler II/US Presswire
1. Alec Lemon (Syracuse)
2011 Stats: 68 REC, 834 YDS, 6 TD
Lemon has been a contributor for three years at Syracuse, for which he had his best season in 2011 with more than 800 yards receiving to go with six touchdowns. It earned him an All-Big East Second Team selection thanks to the highest receiving yards total for a junior in school history.
A solid 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, Lemon was a go-to receiver for most of the season in 2011. He had double-digit catches in a game twice and nine once. His best stretch of the season included the 19 catches, 336 yards and three TDs in consecutive games against Connecticut and South Florida. We see more big numbers in 2012.
Photo: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire