Projecting B1G receiving leaders
Leonte Carroo is the only returning Big Ten receiver that racked up 1,000 yards last season. Still plenty of talent is back in 2015. Here are five candidates to lead the conference in receiving yards in 2015.
5. Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska
With all the attention De’Mornay Pierson-El is going to receive when he enters a game, Westerkamp stands to benefit the most. We already know about his highlight-reel grabs, one of which earned him and ESPY nod, but Westerkamp will be in the No. 1 receiver role. The former walk-on didn’t always handle increased coverage well when Kenny Bell was banged up last year. That’ll be the biggest adjustment he’ll have to make to emerge as a true No. 1.
4. Magarrett Kings Jr., Michigan State
Connor Cook needs some new best buds. The senior quarterback is going to have to rely on a guy like Kings to step up. He’s had off-field issues, which didn’t help his standing with Mark Dantonio. But Kings is the Spartans’ best returning receiver. If Aaron Burbridge can come back healthy after breaking his foot, Cook won’t have a drop in production after losing Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery to the NFL ranks.
3. Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Before you say I’m underrating the Big Ten’s leading returning receiver, consider this. Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig have as many college touchdown passes combined as I do. Now, both are far more likely than I am to accomplish that feat, but there’s no guarantee either will provide enough production for the conference’s best receiver. I repeat, this is not a knock on Carroo’s skill, but last time I checked, a receiver needs a guy that can get it to him.
2. Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Of all the talent the Buckeyes will line up with outside, none have the track record Thomas does. The departures of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer means it’s time for Thomas to be the go-to threat downfield. He isn’t necessarily the best athlete that J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones will get to throw to, but he makes up for it in his pass-catching ability. This dandy might’ve been the most impressive of his 54 catches last year.
1. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
I’m all-in on the improvements to the Penn State offense. Christian Hackenberg, with time to throw, will develop the Big Ten’s 1-2 punch with Hamilton. The Allen Robinson comparisons are going to gain more validity when Hamilton emerges as a downfield threat. Sophomores aren’t supposed to catch 82 passes. Hamilton already has a knack for getting open. When Hackenberg is able to consistently step into throws this year, Hamilton’s 5 and 6-yard catches will be moving the chains, instead. Sign me up for the Nittany Lion bandwagon in 2015.