You only have to look at players like Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow to know that college football doesn’t always translate to the NFL. Sure, these busts may make a few filmmakers happy enough to catalog their journey, but that’s a whole other story. Today we are looking at 20 collegiate wide receivers that were DOMINANT in college before moving on to become NFL greats. We are even sprinkling in a few players with huge potential just to tease future readers. Keep on reading, you’re about to be impressed by this serious talent.
Cooper Kupp – Eastern Washington
We are kickstarting our list with a young man by the name of Cooper Kupp, a wide out who currently plays for Eastern Washington. Kupp comes from a small school but he’s flashed huge potential In four seasons at the collegiate level. Kupp has compiled 428 catches, 6,460 yards, and 76 total touchdowns — all NCAA records. His small town dreams are going to pay off big in the 2017 NFL draft, where every film production company worth their salt will be waiting.
Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt
Currently playing for the Eagles, Matthews is the best wide out in school history. Matthews racked up 262 catches and 3,759 yards during his career. If Matthews ever needs dental implants he can afford the gold ones now, that’s for sure!
Sydney Rice – South Carolina
Sydney Rice’s NFL story ended on a sour note but his collegiate career was all smiles, so much so that you’d never need cosmetic dentistry if you stood next to Rice. Rice was a force for South Carolina, helping the Gamecocks cruise past Tennessee in his freshman year for the first time while at Neyland Stadium.
Mike Evans – Texas A&M
Evans is one of the best young wide outs in the NFL and his college pedigree only reinforces it. Evans played only a single year of football in high school before becoming a stand out at A&M. Evans grabbed 82 balls for 1,105 yards and five TD’s during Johnny Manziel’s Heisman winning season. Evan’s is a huge bodied receiver whose game translated immediately to the NFL.
Ryan Broyles – Oklahoma
Broyles dominated the Big 12 during his time with Oklahoma. Broyles would break out in 2010 when he posted 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 scores. Despite a lukewarm NFL career, Broyles is one of the most sure-handed wide outs in Oklahoma history. You need teeth bleaching done to you to match his smile on the field during those years.
Ike Hilliard – Florida
The Florida Gators leaned on Ike Hillard during his time at Florida as he built a rapport with QB Danny Wuerffel. Hilliard was a multi-time All American and he was considered one of the top pass catchers in the nation. Hilliard would be drafted in the first round, play 12 years in the NFL, and become a Super Bowl champ along the way.
Michael Floyd – Notre Dame
While part of the Fighting Irish there was nobody better than Michael Floyd. Floyd put up 67 total touchdowns during his time with the Irish, becoming one of the best to ever lace up for the team. Floyd is the statistic leader in a number of Notre Dame record books. Floyd was recently picked up by the New England Patriots.
Braylon Edwards – Michigan
Before his middling NFL career Braylon Edwards was stunning crowds in college. Edwards posted three straight seasons with 1,000+ yards and at least 10 TDs. Edwards could not be covered in college and his 39 touchdowns were a record in the Big Ten at the time.
AJ Green – Georgia
With a tall frame and huge strides AJ Green became one of the greatest raw and physical wide outs in the NCAA. Green led the pack in the SEC as a freshman, blending together his size and speed into one impossible to cover package. Green grabbed 166 balls, 2,619 yards, and 23 scores during his time at Georgia.
Jeremy Maclin – Missouri
Maclin set the NCAA freshman record for all purpose yards when he racked up 2,776 for the Tigers. Maclin currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and he is definitely considered one of the most underrated collegiate wide outs of all time. Maclin would leave school with 5,609 total yards to his name to go along with 33 total touchdowns. Not bad for a two year run, right?
Dez Bryant – Oklahoma State
We have one more Oklahoma State product on our list that posted better numbers than this guy. Still, Dez Bryant may be the most talented wide out to come from Oklahoma State in the school’s history. Bryant posted 87 catches, 1,480 yards, and 21 scores as a sophomore. Bryant’s overall statistics at school would have been much higher if not for his off the field issues. Bryant has quickly blossomed into one of the premier players in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys.
Amari Cooper – Alabama
Cooper has quickly become one of the best in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders, and we all saw it coming. Cooper re-wrote the record books while at Alabama. He is the all time leader in: catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Cooper has had some injury issues with Oakland but his future in the NFL looks as bright as anyone on this list. We’ll see one more player from Alabama on our list here shortly.
Torry Holt – NC State
Before joining the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’, Holt was helping to invigorate the NC State football program. Holt won an ACC Player of the Year award while also finishing 8th in Heisman voting back in 1998. Holt’s one of the most gifted pass catchers to ever touch a football.
Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
Blackmon combined that rare blend of size, speed and intelligence to turn Oklahoma State’s offense into an elite show every Saturday. Blackmon racked up 1,500+ yards and 18 touchdowns in back to back years while scoring a pair of Biletnikoff Awards.
Percy Harvin – Florida
Harvin single-handedly made Florida a must watch team from ’06 – ’08. Harvin was a threat to score the ball whenever he had it in his hands. Harvin nabbed nearly 2,000 rushing and 2,000 receiving yards in his college career.
Josh Reed – LSU
After redshirting as a freshman, Josh Reed exploded onto the scene under coach Nick Saban. Highlights include his 14 catch, 239 yard performance in a Sugar Bowl win over Illinois. Reed would play 8 years in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills.
Michael Crabtree – Texas Tech
Crabtree put together two of the most impressive seasons in Texas Tech history. Crabtree set freshman records for receptions (134), touchdowns (22) and yards (1,962). Yeah, this kid was good. He’s currently playing alongside Amari Cooper in Oakland.
Julio Jones – Alabama
‘Bama is well represented on this list and none have shone brighter than Julio Jones. Jones was considered the best receiving prospect out of high school back in 2008 and that translated straight to college. Jones scored two All-SEC nods (’08, and ’10) before going #6 overall in the NFL draft.
Calvin Johnson – Georgia Tech
‘Megatron’ was as unstoppable as his NFL self would become, back in college. Johnson nabbed 68 total touchdowns and almost 3,000 yards from 2004 to 2006.
Larry Fitzgerald – Pittsburgh
Fitz has become one of the best receivers to ever play the game and he showed potential right from the start. Fitzgerald pulled in 161 balls for 2677 yards and 24 scores in just two years of college ball. Fitzgerald was also second in the Heisman Voting, the only wide receiver ever to go that high.