It’s been close to happening before, and now it has.
Clemson’s Tee Higgins had overtaken Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy for the top spot in my receiver rankings. Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner has showcased the same burst, twitchiness, and long speed from a season ago but simply hasn’t produced anywhere close to his 2018 production. He has seven catches for 92 yards in his last two games, an offense-dominated Iron Bowl and a throttling of Western Carolina.
Conversely, Higgins has been incredibly consistent all season. Of late for the Tigers, he has a touchdown in four-straight games, and while not being high volume (only 43 receptions on the year), Higgins seemingly demonstrates his full skill set every week.
And this is not to say Jeudy has fallen off the map. He’s only moved down one spot in my rankings. But Higgins has better size at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, creates separation well himself, tracks it a little better down the field and is efficient after the catch.
Here’s the latest Wide Receivers Watch.
1. Tee Higgins, Clemson: Stock Up
Higgins had three catches for 101 yards with two scores against South Carolina, and here’s the description of all of those grabs. The first was a gorgeously timed slot fade in the end zone in which he beat press at the line, accelerated, and caught the football over his shoulder near the back pylon. The second was a deep angle route in which he ran past everyone for a long, easy touchdown. The third was a snag near the sideline and featured a Reggie Bush-ian back juke to pick up a few extra yards. Higgins is a silky smooth wideout with awesome size, plus skills to beat press, and surprising long speed. He deserves this top spot.
2. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: Stock Down, Slightly
Jeudy had five grabs for 26 yards against Auburn, and that incredibly pedestrian stat line included a drop. He does move in a way other receivers don’t. There’s no doubting that. But it’s gotten to the point where I wonder why, despite his rare suddenness, has Jeudy not been more productive this season.
3. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: Stock Down, Slightly
Lamb now has six catches for 52 yards in his last two games. For as athletically gifted as he is after the catch and how awesome he tracks it, is he a sharp route runner? I think Lamb will be a good pro. But I’m starting to think he’ll take some time to acclimate to the pro game as he improves as a separator.
4. Henry Ruggs, Alabama: Stock Up
Ruggs had six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, and his score was an awesome demonstration of his change-of-direction smoothness and the fact that he can easily create separation even in tight near the end zone, as he caught a pass from Mac Jones on a corner route from the slot in which his acceleration off the line and through his break got him wide open. He also made a nice adjustment on back-shoulder toss up the right sideline then flipped on his insane afterburners to pick up a nice chunk of yardage. Ruggs cruises, but is pretty twitchy too.
5. Ty Johnson, Minnesota: Stock Steady
In Minnesota’s loss to Wisconsin, Johnson had eight snags for 89 yards and a score, and the touchdown came late when the game was out of reach. As usual, he was reliable making tough grabs out of the slot and routinely beat press coverage. He would’ve gone over 100 yards had he reeled in a perfectly placed back-shoulder toss in the third quarter. In the snowy conditions, it was a solid albeit unspectacular game for the productive wideout. It’ll be fascinating to watch Johnson and Minnesota in a big bowl game.
6. Laviska Shenault, Colorado: Stock Down
Shenault had four catches for 43 yards and added 25 yards on five carries. He and the next receiver in my rankings are ultra talented and can erupt down the field or after the catch at any time. However, they’ll (likely) enter the NFL with a handful of dud games on their collegiate resumes.
7. Jalen Reagor, TCU: Stock Up, Slightly
Reagor had six catches for 57 yards and displayed his insane athletic gifts on a 70-yard punt return, his second such score of the season. Early in the game, he was hit as he tried to catch a slant, the ball popped up into the air and was intercepted. Not totally his fault, but it was a pass that should’ve been caught. Reagor got open on a comeback in the first half … but the ball skipped to him. Yes, I’m a broken record with this, but with better quarterbacking, we could’ve seen an electric season from the bouncy, dynamic Reagor. Instead, we got 43 catches for 611 yards with five scores. With TCU missing out on a bowl game and Reagor only a junior, expect him to hover well below the radar for the early portions of draft season until the combine.
8. Bryan Edwards, South Carolina: Stock Steady
Edwards finishes his South Carolina career as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards, but that illustrious career ended unceremoniously as he couldn’t suit up against Clemson due to injury.
9. Michael Pittman, USC: Stock Steady
Pittman and the Trojans were off over the weekend after their win over UCLA a week ago, but won’t play in the Pac 12 title game because of Utah’s win over Colorado. At 8-4, a decently high profile bowl game awaits for USC.
10. Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty: Stock Down
In his quietest game of the year, AGG had just 29 yards on four grabs in Liberty’s win over New Mexico State. The Flames went 7-5 in their first year in FBS, so they’re going bowling.
Honorable Mention: Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
Claypool has seven touchdowns in his last five games, including two in the rivalry win over Stanford in Palo Alto on Saturday. One of his scores was a fine display of his high-point abilities at 6-4 and 229 pounds. Also, on that play, Claypool lulled the defender to sleep by starting his route somewhat slow then accelerating as they got down the field. Claypool is not going to separate often, but at his size, with his power forward rebounding skills, he’ll have value on Sundays.