HSING-HAN CHEN | THE DAILY EVERGREEN
The ball is snapped. Quarterback Anthony Gordon catches the snap. Drops back in the pocket, maybe avoiding a blitzing defender. He cocks his arm back, winds up and throws a perfect spiral to Easop Winston Jr. Or Dezmon Patmon. Or Brandon Arconado. Or Tay Martin.
You get the gist. There are a lot of Cougar receivers catching passes from Gordon. So many receivers that Washington State University has the best group of wide receivers in the nation.
Brandon Arconado was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list last week. The award is given to the best receiver in college football after each season. Arconado joins teammates Dezmon Patmon and Easop Winston Jr. on the list.
Arconado’s inclusion gives WSU more players on the list than any other team in the country other than Alabama, who has four. That puts them ahead of powerhouse wide receiver factories like Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State.
Also last week, Pro Football Focus ranked all the wide receiver corps in the NCAA. WSU came in at number five on that list.
Coming in it five out of 130 is no small feat. Especially considering the teams ranked ahead of them: Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
All four of those teams are led by legitimate round one or two NFL-caliber players. Guys like Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, Ceedee Lamb and Tyler Johnson.
WSU does not have that level of talent but they do have something that sets them apart. Something that makes their receiving corp the best in the nation: depth.
None of those other top teams come close to producing a group of receivers as deep as the one WSU trots out o the field every Saturday.
WSU has seven receivers with over 15 catches, and six of them have over 25. Alabama is the only other team in the group that has three receivers with over 25 receptions, still only half of what WSU has.
Based on those stats it is clear that WSU and Alabama are the cream of the crop when it comes to wide receivers.
Alabama has probably the best receiver in the country and another one who will also get drafted in the first half of round one of the NFL Draft. They also have a third receiver who has more yards and touchdowns than the other two.
If a receiving corp was made up solely of three players then Alabama would take the cake. But it is not. And that is why WSU’s position group is better.
Alabama’s fifth receiver has 12 receptions for 300 yards. Their sixth has 21 yards on three catches.
For comparison, WSU’s fifth receiver, Travell Harris, has 28 catches for nearly 400 yards. And their sixth receiver, Tay Martin, possibly their most talented pass catcher, has 26 catches for just under 300 yards.
Everybody has heard the saying “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” WSU’s weakest link is pretty strong. Way stronger than Alabama’s three catches for 21 yards.
So while they may not have the same amount of next-level talent as other schools, the strength of WSU’s receivers is their depth. They can go eight players deep and kill any secondary out there by making four-player platoon swaps without skipping a beat.