Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” where we are continuing to preview some of the more intriguing position groups in the Mountain West. Over the last few weeks, we have previewed quarterbacks and running backs. This week, we will be looking at the best wide receiver groups in the conference.
The Broncos are now three for three in the “Good” category. I believe that the wide receiver group is the most talented unit on this team. Khalil Shakir led the team with 63 catches last year and could approach triple digits in his senior season. The Broncos also return CT Thomas who has 97 career catches, and Octavius Evans is finally healthy enough to become the elite receiver he is expected to be. Boise State also has Stefan Cobbs, Shea Whiting, Khyeem Waleed, and Latrell Caples, all of whom were considered elite recruits.
The Rams might be the only team in the conference that has similar wide receiver talent to Boise State, and they might have the best wide receiver in the conference in Warren Jackson. Jackson was all-conference last season and should put up spectacular numbers in 2020. The Rams also return their number two and three receivers in Dante Wright and Nate Craig-Myers. This offense should be fun to watch.
I am going to be honest, I am not completely comfortable with this pick for a couple of reasons. The Rainbow Warriors are losing a ton of talent, and we really don’t know what their offense is going to look like. They will have to rely on the speed and shiftiness of their receivers. Smart, Stovall, and Victory should form a formidable trio and do enough to keep this offense exciting.
Elijah Cooks and Romeo Doubs will form a lethal 1-2 combo for Carson Strong and company. There are some depth concerns for the Wolf Pack, but the development of Carson Strong and a favorable schedule should help this wide receiver group be one of the best in the Mountain West.
San Jose State
I think this unit will take a step back in 2020 with the departure of Bailey Gaither. However, there is still this guy named Tre Walker. Walker is a special talent who really shined last season. Isaiah Hamilton is a capable number two receiver who will benefit from the double teams that Walker is sure to face.
Randal Grimes is coming off of a solid 2019, but there really aren’t a lot of of dynamic receivers returning for the Rebels. However, it wouldn’t shock me if this unit exceeded expectations under Arroyo.
San Diego State
Kobe Smith and Jesse Matthews put up some respectable numbers in 2019, but it is hard seeing either one of those guys emerge as one of the Mountain West’s elite receivers. After Smith and Matthews there isn’t much to be excited about at wide receiver. But who knows, maybe a change at quarterback and a new head coach will make things interesting.
The success of this unit is going to depend on the development of Jalen Cropper. Cropper was underutilized as a true freshman, but has the skill set to be an elite receiver. The Bulldogs do return the majority of their talent, but the stats just aren’t there to put them in the “Good” category. Maybe a new quarterback will make all the difference.
The Lobos really didn’t throw the ball around that much last year, and recruiting the wide receiver position hasn’t been easy to do considering their recent history on offense. Gonzalez and his staff will likely implement an offense that throws the ball a little more, but they will still be run heavy. The Lobos return their top two receivers.
I’ve been told that I am wrong about the 2020 Aggies on multiple occasions, but losing Siaosi Mariner is a significant loss. Jordan Nathan and Deven Thompkins are nice receivers, but Utah State does not have the elite number one receiver that their new quarterback will need.
The Falcons lost both Geraud Sanders and Benjamin Waters, the only two receivers with more than 10 catches. As we have learned, Air Force is not really concerned with developing elite pass catchers. But, when you lost your top two receivers and have nobody else on the roster with double digit career catches, it is hard to land in any other category.
The Cowboys bring back a lot of intriguing talent on offense, but if there is one glaring weakness, it is at wide receiver. They didn’t have a receiver come close to 500 yards, and their top two receivers have graduated. This position group will have to exceed expectations, because opposing defenses are going to load the box to stop the run.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week, we will be previewing the tight end position.