[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the 3-Point Stance, looking at wide receiver tiers in the Big Ten, five coaches who should have never been fired (or forced out), and the best commit for each team in the Big 12.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]— Let’s keep the tiers going as we move from running backs to wide receivers and start with the WR rooms in the Big Ten.
Elite: Ohio State
Ohio State is head and shoulder above everyone in the conference when it comes to talent at the wide receiver position. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is obviously the headliner, but they've got so much talent that goes way down the depth chart. Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming are all former top-50 talents, and they've got more guys on the way.
Good but not Great: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Nebraska, Minnesota
The Nittany Lions had Jahan Dotson drafted in the first round this spring, but outside of him, bring back a ton of talent starting with Parker Washington. He was second on the team last year with 64 catches and 820 yards and has shown big-play ability. Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Tinsley is a great addition and he will start opposite Washington. The guy to watch out for here though is four-star true freshman Kaden Saunders, who is as slippery as they come with the ball in his hands.
Getting a healthy Ronnie Bell back will be a boon for Michigan, and he will join Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson to form a very solid starting trio for the Wolverines. True freshman Darrius Clemons is a huge target at 6'4" and should have a shot to compete for snaps.
Michigan State's Jayden Reed is one of the best returning players at receiver in the Big Ten. He had over 1,000 yards and 10 TD's in 2021 despite the Spartans having a more ground-oriented attack with Kenneth Walker IV in the backfield. Tre Mosley is a reliable option as well for the Spartans, and Montorie Foster has shown flashes at times as well. Four-star freshman Germie Bernard enrolled early and turned heads during spring ball as well, so don't be surprised if he's in the mix this fall.
What Maryland lacks in depth they make up for in top-end talent with the combination of Jacob Copeland and Dontay Demus Jr. Both of those guys are big breakout candidates for me this fall. Rakim Jarrett is another guy who has a huge upside and has had moments where he's looked like he could break out as well.
Despite losing Samori Toure, Nebraska has a very solid group of receivers coming back led by Omar Manning. Tennessee transfer Trey Palmer was a huge get, as was Texas' Marcus Washington. They should help stabilize the position and each of those three guys complement each other very well. Another transfer, Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, is a guy with big breakout potential after coming to Nebraska from New Mexico State.
The Gophers have an interesting unit led by Chris Autman-Bell, who came into his own last season as the number one guy after biding his time behind Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman. In fact, all of the four of their top players at the wide receiver position for Minnesota return, with Mike Brown-Stephens, Dylan Wright, and Daniel Jackson joining Autman-Bell. The biggest question for this unit is if Tanner Morgan can get back to looking like the player he was as a freshman.
That'll Do: Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, Rutgers
The Badgers lost both of their starters from last season to graduation, but have a guy in Chimere Dike who is ready to step up and be the number one guy after working mostly as the third receiver the past two seasons. Markus Allen and Skyler Bell both flashed at times as true freshmen last fall, and they added deep threat Keontez Lewis from UCLA in the transfer portal.
Purdue snagged a pair of Iowa receivers in Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones who will help fill in for the guys they lost to the draft last year. Broc Thompson and TJ Sheffield are the top returners from last season, but keep an eye out for Mershawn Rice who had a big spring.
Bret Bielema and the Illini are in a decent spot at the receiver position, in large part due to the return of Isaiah Williams, who led the team last year in every statistical category. Casey Washington also returns as a starter, and the acquisition of Tommy DeVito at quarterback can only help. Shawn Miller is an intriguing freshman to look out for.
After losing their top guy in Bo Melton to the NFL draft, the Scarlet Knights did a good job going out and getting two guys in the portal to help fill in that hole with the additions of West Virginia's Sean Ryan and Syracuse's Taj Harris. Aron Cruickshank is lightning in a bottle as a returner but hasn't yet been able to make an impact as a receiver at either Wisconsin or Rutgers. Shameen Jones is their top returning receiver in terms of production. They could move their way up to the next tier by this time next year if things break right.
Cross your fingers and pray: Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern
The Hoosiers have had a huge talent drain over the past two years, and it's hit the receiver room especially hard. DJ Matthews Jr. is the only proven guy on this roster, and he did bigger numbers two years ago when everything was humming with Michael Penix Jr. running the show behind center. Indiana is hoping that JUCO WR Cam Camper can step in and make an immediate difference, along with North Carolina transfer Emery Simmons.
The Hawkeyes throw to their receivers as little as anyone in the country who doesn't run the triple option, but they always seem to have at least one guy who can hurt you. However, this year that isn't the case. Nico Rigaini and Keegan Johnson aren't at the same level as some of the top Iowa receivers we've seen over the past two decades, and they lost all of their depth to Purdue (as noted above). They really needed to hit the transfer portal here but didn't.
Northwestern's offense was atrocious in almost every way last year, and the receiver position was no different. Throw in the fact that they lost their top player at the position and it's not looking much better this year. Malik Washington and Bryce Kirtz are the only guys who caught more than 10 balls returning this year, and they didn't add anyone via the portal. It's going to be another tough season in Evanston through the air.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]— I think about certain things sometimes. Like why does Texas stink and why can’t Nebraska and Tennessee get back to elite? And then it hits me. Guys like these five should not have been fired — ever.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Pelini never won less than nine games in any of the seven seasons he coached at Nebraska, yet he was still summarily canned. Since then, the Huskers have seen Mike Riley go .500 in three seasons and Scott Frost fall completely flat on his face. Think they regret that one? Pelini wasn’t a nice man but he could coach.
Phil Fulmer, Tennessee
Some people will say that he held on too long, but getting rid of a legend who brought you a title is not usually the best call. And it definitely wasn't in this case. Fulmer was 152-52 in 17 seasons, but since he left they're 80-80. Maybe Josh Heupel is finally the guy to turn it around for good, but it's taken a long time.
Mack Brown, Texas
Okay, so he wasn't technically fired, just forced out but the same thing goes. Texas has been a joke since he was given the boot, going through Charlie Strong, Tom Herman, and Steve Sarkisian as they have all struggled to find their footing and bring the program back.
Mike Leach, Texas Tech
The Pirate was fired with cause in 2009 after an incident involving receiver Adam James. The facts of what exactly went on still are a bit fuzzy but it was very clear that powerful people at the university were not big fans of his. But they should have been fans of the product he put on the field. In 10 seasons, he went 84-43, winning nine games five times. The team hasn't won nine games in a season since he was fired and James' father, Craig, was as helicopter as a dad can get.
Karl Dorrell, UCLA
Dorrell was 35-28 in five seasons in Westwood, which is a very good record considering that they're little brother in their own city. So even after five consecutive bowl appearances, UCLA gave him the boot and brought in Rick Neuheisel, who completely flamed out, followed by Jim Mora Jr., who did the same. Chip Kelly has finally righted the ship, but it's taken a decade and a half.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]— Recruiting is slowing down as the summer heats up let’s take a look at the best of the Power Five with the best commit for each Big 12 school.
I love QB Austin Novosad and his accuracy. It’s important they hold onto him.
Another QB leads the way as JJ Kohl is local, big, and held his own with the best at the Elite 11.
WR Surahz Buncom from California has a chance to be special as he fills out his 6-4 frame.
Local WR Andre Davis is huge and a matchup problem down the line.
QB Jackson Arnold is the lone big name in this class and his arm talent is special.
CB Dylan Smith from Texas has size and could be the real deal with his aggressive nature.
DE Avion Carter is head and shoulders above the rest in the class as he was coveted by OU, LSU, Notre Dame and others.
Um, have you heard of a QB named Arch? He’s kind of a big deal.
WR Tyrone West has legit speed and will change the offense for the Red Raiders if they can hold onto him.
LB Josiah Trotter has the genes and physical talent to be a nasty hitter in the Big 12.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]