April 23, 2024

College football’s 20 best wide receivers of 2024

College football's 20 best wide receivers of 2024

Oklahoma State wide receiver Brennan Presley celebrates after scoring on a six-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Kansas Saturday October 14. 2023 at Boone Pickens Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Wide receivers can do damage in a variety of ways.

Some can beat you with speed, while others use their size and footwork as an advantage. Catching, blocking and running crisp routes come with the territory of being an elite wideout.

Reading defensive backs is always vital in clutch moments, and drops aren’t an option. Great receivers do damage from the slot or out on the edge. Often times the elite pass catchers require double coverage.

These 20 individuals built a buzz behind their names last season, and showed what it takes to be a star wideout. Now they’re all riding a big wave of momentum into spring ball and building on their legacies.

20. Jacolby George, Miami: The Florida native led the Hurricanes in touchdown catches, and finished with third-team, All-ACC honors in 2023. George caught five balls for 94 yards, and a season-high, three touchdowns in the victory over Texas A&M. He posted five catches for a season-high, 153 yards and two scores at Florida State. George also eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards at North Carolina. The former four-star prospect hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass against Bethune-Cookman. George had a touchdown catch in the win at Boston College, and 90 receiving yards at Temple. Xavier Restrepo and George will form the best wide receiver tandem in the ACC this fall.

19. Kyren Lacy, LSU: The former three-star prospect finished third on the Bayou Bengals in touchdown catches last season. Lacy established himself as a deep threat, and caught fire down the stretch. Not to mention he averaged 18.6 yards per catch, which was second-best in the SEC, and 15th nationally. Lacy hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass against Grambling State. The Louisiana native caught a 29-yard touchdown pass at Ole Miss. Lacy generated four catches for a season-high, 111 yards and a score against Auburn. He also eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards, and scored twice against Georgia State. Lacy even had a touchdown reception against Alabama, and Texas A&M.

18. Da’Quan Felton, Virginia Tech: Although he had no stars behind his name out of high school, he led the Hokies in receiving yards, and touchdown catches last season. Felton showed the ability to take the top off a defense, and averaged 17.6 yards per catch. He caught six balls for 84 yards and a touchdown at Rutgers. Felton recorded four receptions for 81 yards and a score against Pittsburgh. The six-foot-five, 213-pounder generated two touchdown catches in the victory over Syracuse. Felton had 101 receiving yards at Boston College, and scored two touchdowns against NC State. Not to mention he generated three receptions for a season-high, 133 yards and two scores at Virginia.

17. Jaylin Noel, Iowa State: The Kansas City native led the Cyclones in receptions, and touchdown catches last year. Noel had at least three catches in every Big 12 contest, and finished third in the conference in receptions per game. He even capped off his stellar campaign with second-team, All-Big 12 honors. The former three-star prospect recorded eight catches apiece against Iowa and Baylor. Noel caught eight balls for 146 yards and a score in the victory over Oklahoma State. The 21-year old had a touchdown catch against Oklahoma and Memphis. Noel posted two receiving scores apiece in wins at BYU and Kansas State. His 160 receiving yards against the Wildcats, were a season-high.

16. CJ Daniels, LSU: The former two-star prospect was a dangerous deep threat, and finished 11th nationally in yards per reception at Liberty last season. Daniels even generated 1,067 receiving yards, which ranked 22nd in the FBS. Not to mention he capped off his amazing campaign with second-team, All-Conference-USA honors. Daniels caught four balls for 129 yards, and a score against New Mexico State. He had 106 receiving yards and a touchdown at Buffalo. The Georgia native recorded 157 receiving yards against Sam Houston, and in the Conference-USA Championship Game. Daniels caught two touchdowns, and eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Old Dominion.

15. Daniel Jackson, Minnesota: The Kansas native had a breakout season, in which he led the Golden Gophers in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches in 2023. Jackson capped off his amazing campaign with second-team, All-Big Ten honors. He caught nine balls for 68 yards and a score in the opener against Nebraska. Jackson recorded two touchdown catches against Louisiana. The former three-star prospect eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin. His 121 receiving yards against the Badgers were a season-high. The six-foot, 200-pounder hauled in a touchdown pass against Northwestern, Michigan and Illinois.

14. Elic Ayomanor, Stanford: The Canadian led the Cardinal in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches last year. Ayomanor finished 20th nationally in receiving yards per game. His 1,013 receiving yards were the most by a Cardinal since 2018. Ayomanor caught four balls for 89 yards and a touchdown against Sacramento State. He had nine catches for 146 yards, and a score against Washington. The 20-year old posted 122 receiving yards and a touchdown at Oregon State. Ayomanor recorded 13 catches for a school single-game record, 294 yards, and three scores in the win at Colorado. The former three-star prospect generated eight catches against UCLA and seven against Notre Dame.

13. Ricky White, UNLV: The Georgia native finished third nationally with 1,483 receiving yards last season. White ranked seventh in the FBS receiving yards per game, and earned first-team, All-MWC honors. He caught a season-high, 12 balls for 165 yards in the victory over Vanderbilt. White had seven catches for 166 yards and two scores at Nevada. The 22-year old also eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards, and had two touchdowns at Fresno State. The next game he hauled in eight passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns at New Mexico. White also had over 100 receiving yards against Wyoming, Air Force and San Jose State, plus he caught a touchdown in the bowl game against Kansas.

12. Travis Hunter, Colorado: The former five-star prospect played on both sides of the ball in 2023, and earned All-Pac-12 honors as a defensive back, and return specialist. Hunter finished second on the team in receiving yards and touchdown catches, despite missing the first three conference games. He had 11 catches for 119 yards in the opening win at TCU. The next game game against Nebraska Hunter had 73 receiving yards. The Georgia native caught 13 balls for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Stanford, which were all season-highs. Hunter posted eight catches for 107 yards, and a score at Utah. The 20-year old also caught eight balls for 98 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State.

11. Tre Harris, Ole Miss: The 22-year old led the Rebels in receiving yards, and touchdown catches last season. Harris finished fourth in the SEC, and 22nd in the FBS in receptions per game. He was fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game. Harris posted six catches for 133 yards, and a season-high, four touchdowns in the opener against Mercer. The Louisiana native generated 102 receiving yards against Auburn. Harris caught eight balls for 153 yards and score in the victory over LSU. His 213 receiving yards against Texas A&M were a season-high. Not to mention Harris left a lasting impression, with seven catches for 134 yard in the Peach Bowl win over Penn State.

10. Kobe Hudson, UCF: The former Auburn Tiger showed he was a weapon on deep balls, and finished seventh nationally in yards per reception last year. Hudson also led UCF in touchdown catches. He caught five balls for 134 yards in the victory at Boise State. The next game against Villanova he recorded six receptions for a season-high, 147 yards. The Georgia native hauled in five passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns at Kansas State. Hudson even posted two receiving scores in the win over West Virginia. The six-foot-one, 200-pounder recorded a season-high, three touchdown catches against Oklahoma State. Hudson’s nine receptions against Houston were also a season-high.

9. Jalen Royals, Utah State: The Georgia native finished second in the FBS, with 15 touchdown catches last season. Royals also capped off his campaign with first-team, All-MWC honors. His 1,080 receiving yards were a career-high. He had 185 receiving yards, and three touchdowns at Connecticut, which were both season-highs. Royals hauled in six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado State. The six-foot, 210-pounder had seven catches for 125 yards and two scores against Fresno State. Royals also recorded two touchdown receptions in the win at New Mexico. He found the endzone against Air Force, Idaho State, Boise State, Georgia State, San Jose State and San Diego State.

8. Jayden Higgins, Iowa State: The former two-star prospect had a breakout campaign last season, in which he finished fourth in the Big 12 in receiving yards. Higgins proved he was a dangerous deep threat, and averaged 18.5 yards per catch, which ranked 17th nationally. He caught eight balls for 95 yards, and a touchdown against Iowa. The six-foot-four, 219-pounder hauled in six passes for 172 yards at Cincinnati. Higgins even eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Texas. The Florida native posted a season-high, nine catches for 214 yards and a touchdown against Memphis. Higgins also recorded receiving scores against Kansas State, Baylor, Ohio and Oklahoma.

7. Xavier Restrepo, Miami: The 21-year old finished 19th nationally, with 1,092 receiving yards last season. Restrepo also ranked 19th in the FBS in receptions per game, and capped off his campaign with first-team, All-ACC honors. He recorded six catches for 126 yards in the victory over Texas A&M. The following game he hauled in six passes for 120 yards against Bethune-Cookman. Restrepo had two touchdown receptions in the win at Temple. The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder also generated two receiving scores at North Carolina. Not to mention his 193 receiving yards at Louisville were a season-high. Restrepo even posted a season-high, 12 catches for 123 yards against Georgia Tech.

6. Kevin Conception, NC State: The Charlotte native led the Wolfpack in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches as a true freshman last season. His 10 receiving touchdowns were the most by a NC State player since 2012, and Conception capped off his amazing campaign with second-team, All-ACC honors. Conception hauled in six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns at Virginia. The former four-star prospect caught eight balls for 102 yards and two scores against Marshall. Conception also recorded two touchdown catches apiece against Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. He was a versatile weapon, and even finished second on NC State in yards on the ground.

5. Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State: The 22-year old is deadly out of the slot. Presley’s 101 receptions in 2023 tied for the fourth-most in a single season for the Cowboys, and he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. Presley ranked seventh nationally in receptions per game. The Tulsa native caught six balls for 54 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Central Arkansas. The following game at Arizona State Presley caught a 16-yard touchdown. The former three-star prospect hauled in a touchdown pass against Kansas, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Texas. He caught 15 passes for 189 yards at Houston. Presley recorded a season high, 16 receptions for 152 yards against Texas A&M.

4. Nic Anderson, Oklahoma: The former three-star prospect tied for first on the the Sooners with 10 touchdown catches in 2023. Anderson averaged a jaw-dropping, 21 yards per catch, which ranked fifth nationally. He had 120 receiving yards, and three touchdowns at Tulsa, which were both season-highs. The Texas native recorded 92 receiving yards in Bedlam, and caught the game-winning touchdown in the win over Texas. Anderson posted five catches for 105 yards and two scores against UCF. Not to mention he eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against West Virginia. The six-foot-four, 213-pounder caught a touchdown against Cincinnati, Iowa State, BYU and Arizona.

3. Tez Johnson, Oregon: The 21-year old led the Ducks in receptions last season. Johnson’s 1,182 receiving yards ranked 11h in the FBS. He caught a season-high, 12 balls for 180 yards and two touchdowns against California. The following week Johnson recorded seven catches for 126 yards and two scores against USC. The Alabama native also hauled in two touchdown passes against Hawaii. The former three-star prospect eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Oregon State, and Liberty. Johnson even caught a touchdown against Texas Tech and Washington State. Unfortunately, he only earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-12, so expect Johnson to put up big numbers in the Big Ten.

2. Luther Burden, Missouri: The former five-star prospect finished ninth in the FBS in receiving yards last year. Burden averaged 93.2 receiving yards per game, which ranked 12th nationally. The St. Louis native finished 17th in the country in receptions per game. Burden also earned first-team, All-SEC honors. He caught eight balls for 117 yards against Middle Tennessee. The next game against Kansas State Burden had seven catches for 114 yards and two scores. The 5-foot-11, 208-pounder had double-digit receptions, and eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Memphis, Vanderbilt and LSU. Burden even scored against South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio State.

1. Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona: The former five-star prospect finished fifth in the FBS in receiving yards, and tied for ninth in receptions per game in 2023. McMillan’s 84.4 receiving yards per game ranked 19th nationally. He even earned second-team, All-Pac-12 honors. McMillan caught eight balls for 161 yards and a touchdown at Mississippi State. The Hawaii native had six catches for 108 yards at USC. McMillan posted a season-high, 11 receptions for 266 yards and a score at Arizona State. The 20-year old also caught a touchdown against Northern Arizona, UTEP, Stanford and Oregon State. McMillan eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards against Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma.

Honorable Mention

Isaiah Bond, Texas: The Georgia native caught fire down the stretch in SEC play at Alabama last season. Bond caught a touchdown against Middle Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Auburn. His clutch touchdown catch in the Iron Bowl is what kept the Crimson Tide’s SEC Title and Playoff hopes alive.

Deion Burks, Oklahoma: The former three-star prospect led Purdue in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches last year. Burks recorded 152 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State, which were both season-highs. He also caught a touchdown against Syracuse, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois.

Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State: The former five-star prospect recorded 1,151 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches in 2022, but only played in 10 games and took a step back last season. With Marvin Harrison Jr., off to the NFL, expect Egbuka’s numbers to flourish because he’s going to be the go-to receiver this fall.

Lawrence Arnold, Kansas: The Texas native led the Jayhawks in receptions and receiving yards in 2023. Arnold caught three balls for 112 yards and a touchdown in the victory at Iowa State. He had six receptions for 132 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl victory over UNLV, which were all season-highs.