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 CSU’s senior Warren Jackson. There were four other Mountain West athletes selected, Nevada’s Elijah Cooks (WR), San Jose State’s Tre Walker (WR), Boise State’s Khalil Shakir (WR), and Hawaii’s Jared Smart (WR).
Following a stellar true junior season, Jackson has totaled 124 catches, 1,789 yards and 14 touchdowns over his career. His numbers are already just outside the top 10 in program history and with another strong season in 2020, Warren will certainly cement himself in the Colorado State record books. After spending 2017 and 2018 as a rotation piece in the receiving corps, Jackson burst onto the scene in 2019. Last season, he racked up 1,119 yards and 8 scores on 77 receptions. He quickly earned the trust of his quarterback and his head coach, being the primary target on nearly every pass play. With his first campaign as a starting receiver under his belt and having another offseason to build rapport with his QB and play-caller, it is easy to assume he will have his most productive year yet in 2020.
Although he will be returning for another season with QB Patrick O’Brien, there are some elements that can hinder Jackson’s ability to put up statistics. Defenses now know just how talented he is and will presumably double team him at a much higher rate. He will also be limited to fewer games due to the current pandemic as most programs are canceling all their out of conference contests. Despite these setbacks, the Rams senior has all the physical ability and receiving skills to end the season as one of the best in the nation.
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. Jackson will likely total over 1,200 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020, will it be enough for him to receive the accolade?