The Fred Biletnikoff Award is handed to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, regardless of position. This means running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers are all eligible to earn the award, making it one of the more difficult to obtain. The preseason watch list was announced early Thursday morning and included San Jose State’s senior Tre Walker. There were four other Mountain West athletes selected, Nevada’s Elijah Cooks (WR), Colorado State’s Warren Jackson (WR), Boise State’s Khalil Shakir (WR), and Hawaii’s Jared Smart (WR).
Walker is entering his true senior season and is coming off his most fruitful year yet. He was able to make his way into the receiver rotation as a true freshman in 2017, playing in 12 games and even starting in four. He was able to haul in 26 receptions for 288 yards and 1 touchdown. The next season he saw an increase in time on the field and production, even with fewer games played. In nine contests and three starts, Walker totaled 714 yards and 5 touchdowns on 39 catches. Most of his numbers were gained in the second half of the season as he only had 6 receptions in the first six games. Finally, as a true junior in 2019, the Spartans dynamic receiver was able to reel in 79 receptions for 1,161 yards, both conference bests, and 2 touchdowns. He became QB Josh Love’s favorite target early in the season and it paid off. He was added to 2019’s Biletnikoff Award watchlist in November due to his stellar play.
With defenses keying on him and the loss of his signal-caller, Walker will have to overcome some serious hardships next season, not to mention the effects of the current pandemic. Despite the challenges he will face, Tre has the raw talent and physical ability to not only be one of the best receivers in the Mountain West and the Group of Five, but across the entire country.
Since its creation in 1994, no Mountain West player has received the Biletnikoff Award outside Marcus Harris of Wyoming in 1996. Only three Group of Five members have hoisted the trophy, other than Harris, them being Randy Moss in 1997 (Marshall), Troy Edwards in 1998 (Louisiana Tech), and Calvin Johnson in 2006 (Georgia Tech). Last year’s winner was LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and he will look to hold onto his mantle in 2020.
All semifinalists will be announced on November 16th and three finalists will be named on November 23rd. The ultimate winner will be honored during the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 10. Finally, the 2020 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on March 6, 2021. Until then, expect Walker to do all he can to cement his name in the conversation for the second season in a row.