I should mention here that kidbourbon is my co-author and the Robin to my orange-suited Batman. Or vice versa. We arrived at the below rankings with a highly complicated methodology that involves College Football Stats, the 2013 receiving stats from Bill Connelly, Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, Phil Steele's returning starters data, several highly competitive rounds of
rock, paper, scissors Rochambeau, gallons of illicitly procured moonshine, and loads of snark.
Without further ado, here are Rocky Top Talk's wide receiver and tight end rankings for 2014:
Amari Cooper, O.J. Howard, and the Crimsonettes are about as talented and well-rounded a unit as you'll find in college football, but it's utterly mystifying why any top notch wide receiver recruit would ever want to go to Alabama. Although the run/pass ratio evened out a bit last year, Saban clearly prefers a heavily run-oriented offense, and you know that Satan's smallest minion expects high effort downfield blocking on every play. So if you're a highly rated receiver, why would you want to bang heads all game long for the privilege of catching the occasional wounded duck from a weak-armed frat boy with Bama-Bangs? Sure, some of you will say the only thing that matters is winning. Try whispering that to yourself during the post game press conference: Golden Boy is going to give all the glory to a higher power in his pristine, untouched uniform while you're trying to duct tape what's left of your uniform together so that your internal organs don't show on television.
A haircut can say a lot about a man, and Mark Richt's haircut speaks volumes about a stolid, unimaginative middle manager who manages to squander an unbelievable amount of talent every single year.
The Vols return every contributor from last year's two deep, including 2013 All-SEC Freshman Marquez North and dynamite slot receiver Alton "Pig" Howard, who managed to earn his way into and then subsequently back out of the doghouse since the end of last season. In addition, five star freshman wide receiver Josh Malone, four star JUCO WR Von Pearson, and two four star freshman tight ends enrolled in December and pushed last year's starters all throughout spring football.
- Auburn: Sammie Coates and the gang are the Chick Fil-A of SEC wide receivers: they aren't asked to do much, but what they do do is superb.
- Mississippi State: Following his release from prison (Florida), a small-time con man (Dan Mullen) in debt to some demanding superiors (Cowbells fans) puts together a team for one last job: a meticulously planned heist targeting his old nemesis (Nick Saban). He recruits a steady and reliable right-hand man (Robert Johnson), a young but inconsistent new guy (De'Runnya Wilson), a specialist in getting open (Jameon Lewis), a talented but a wise-cracking hothead (Malcolm Johnson), and an elderly expert in safety valves (LaDarius Perkins, making a non-NCAA sanctioned cameo). Will only a limited amount of time to plan and no room for error, can the Fantastic Five put it all together? Or will they fall victim to a threat no one saw coming (Boss Hogg, played by Bert Bielema)?
- Laquon Treadwell
Hey Laquon, don't worry about defenses keying on you after Moncrief and Logan done R-U-N-N-O-F-T and left you without any help. Dr. Bo doesn't need a decoy, and neither do you.
- South Carolina
The Gamecocks have some of the best wide receivers you'll ever see in practice. Of course that's mostly because they're playing against a mixture of inexperience and hot garbage at the cornerback position after hotshot recruits Wesley Green and Chris Lammons forgot that they had to meet some basic standards to enroll at South Carolina. I know! I'm just as shocked as you are! To be perfectly fair, there's probably a pair of admissions waivers with "Green" and "Lammons" written on them underneath a pile of Coors Light cans on Steve Spurrier's desk in the football offices, but it's the summer and it's five o'clock somewhere so why don't y'all piss on off until August because the HBC is trying to keep a buzz and play a few holes.
- TAMU: If Cam Clear's football career follows the narrative arc of his career in crime, expect him to quickly and efficiently secure the goods, but fumble them back to the original owners in a cloud of tears and recriminations. They also have non-felons Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil.
- LSU: Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn will try to make Tigers fans forget all about Landry and Beckham (no, not David Beckham; no one can ever forget his poor performances in the Three Lions jersey).
- Arky: If Bielema can shore up the offensive line, it'll give Brandon Wilson plenty of time to throw to a mediocre group of receivers.
- Florida: ERROR: FILE NOT FOUND. DID YOU MEAN "RUN INSIDE ZONE LEFT" ON 3RD AND 12?
- Kentucky: Javess Blue and Karl-Anthony Town combine for a fearsome pass-catching duo, but can they upset the defending intra-mural champion Sigma Nus?
August is the cruelest month, building
Units out of new 'croots, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Team boards with spring hype.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Fields in forgetful snow, feeding
A little lie with old TV.
"Just losing too much for me to think they'll be as good [out wide] as they were last season."
" cumulative [games played] walked out the door last year. This is an almost complete rebuild."
"[The other other Tigers] have quietly had one of the best [groups of skill position players] in the SEC for two seasons, but now they return zero starters and must virtually start from scratch."
"If you have to replace all your starters, expect to have a rough time. This is especially true when you're in the SEC. They're going to have to hope they learn quickly before getting into the meat of the schedule."
"[The other other Tigers] return no starters among the skill position players."
"No starters return. Hope the quarterbacks like [dropped passes]."
One Proven Guy
Young Unproven Talent
Veteran But Horrible
T.S. Elliot Territory