One more month until Oregon State opens up their football season! Today, we continue our look at the best players on Oregon State’s schedule in 2018.
This time around, it’s the best wideouts that will line up against the Beavers.
#5 - Tyler Vaughns - USC
The redshirt sophomore from Pasadena had a breakout freshman year in 2017 with 57 catches for 809 yards and five touchdowns. That receiving yardage total was second on the team only to Deontay Burnett, who’s now off to the NFL. With Burnett gone and the Trojans likely relying on a freshman quarterback, Vaughns role on the Trojans’ offense is only going to increase.
The jury is still out on if USC can return to the form of nearly 7000 yards that they produced in 2017, but if they can it will likely be at least partly thanks to Vaughns. The former four star recruit (and number two wideout in the nation in his high school days) redshirted in 2016 then seized his opportunity the following year.
Vaughn’s biggest game of his first year came against Arizona State last October when he looked near unstoppable with six catches for 126 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. One of those scores was from 42 yards out and reminiscent of some of the other great playmakers in USC football history.
Against Oregon State, Vaughns had a decent day with five balls for 68 touchdowns and a 37 -yard touchdown. Vaughns beat the Beaver secondary over the top for that score on a pretty little lob by Sam Darnold. A year later, Vaughns is looking bigger, better, stronger and the OSU DBs will hopefully look the same. The Beavs host USC on November 3rd.
#4 - K.J. Hill - Ohio State
Hill has been touted by some experts as the most underrated player on Ohio State’s roster. Seeing as Hill is a former four-star recruit and the former top recruit in the state of Arkansas from the class of 2015, that’s saying something. The rising junior caught more balls than anybody on the Bucks’ roster in 2017 (56) and had the second most receiving yards with 549.
Hill may not have had the amount of crazy scores as some of the other players on Ohio State’s roster in 2017, but he was the most dependable target. He shined in the Bucks’ win against Penn State last year with 12 catches for 102 yards a week after catching seven for 80 yards and two TDs against Nebraska.
Despite missing the spring to recover from a shoulder injury, Hill still expects to be a big part of what Ohio State’s offense wants to accomplish this season. That makes sense considering he is one of the more experienced guys on their roster in a year when most of the team’s offensive backfield are underclassmen. That shoulder injury shouldn’t be too limiting, considering how well rehab seems to be going for the Little Rock native.
K.J. Hill pulling a tire while wearing a sling. Hill had rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder in January. pic.twitter.com/Lxrio6UdYD— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) March 8, 2018
Hill (and let’s face it, the rest of Ohio State’s team) could create some problems for the Beavers in that season opener on September 1st.
#3 - JJ Arcega-Whiteside - Stanford
The Stanford offense has plenty of names that are going to be big contributors this year, Bryce Love and K.J. Costello included. But don’t forget about Arcega-Whiteside. The senior led the Cardinal in receiving yards last season with 781 yards and nine touchdowns.
Arcega-Whiteside had a few key moments in 2017, including six catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon. The 6’3”, 221 pound South Carolina native also stepped up with five catches for 130 yards against Washington. Against Oregon State though, he wasn’t much of a factor (three catches, for 30 yards) as the Cardinal squeaked by 15-14 in that game.
That big frame allows him to work well in the red zone and catch some tough balls in traffic: a skill that will likely help the Cardinal get back to yet another bowl game this season. Will Arcega-Whiteside and the Cardinal get a bigger margin of victory against the Beavers on November 10th this year?
#2 - Vic Wharton III - California
A senior in 2018, this season could be Vic Wharton’s biggest yet. Wharton has seen a steady improvement every year since 2014. As a freshman, Wharton caught just five passes for 64 yards. Then as a sophomore, that total jumped to 28 balls for 293 yards. Now, after catching 67 passes for 871 yards and five touchdowns in 2017, it seems to fair to say that Wharton could eclipse 1000 yards this year.
Wharton’s 2017 saw the Tennessee native become perhaps the most important piece of Cal’s offense, second only maybe to running back Patrick Laird. Wharton had several impressive games, but his biggest day may have been his performance against Oregon State. He had eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in that game. Wharton also had a fantastic day in Cal’s season opening win against North Carolina last season with five catches for 167 yards, including a beautiful 67-yard touchdown.
Look for him to be a name that CFB and NFL Draft analysts bring up this season and on October 20th when Cal comes to Corvallis. Wharton is arguably the second best receiver in the Pac-12, second only to this next guy...
#1 - N’Keal Harry - Arizona State
The rising junior returns more total receiving yards and receiving yards per game than any one in the Pac-12. His 1142 receiving yards (off 82 catches) were good for 14th in the nation in 2017. He also had 8 touchdowns, including a seventy yarder in a loss to USC.
No other wideout on OSU’s schedule fits the description of “human highlight” reel more perfectly than Harry. To see what I mean, go watch many of his...well, highlight reels, all over the internet.
In his freshman year back in 2016, Harry caught 58 passes for 659 yards and five scores, plus two rushing touchdowns. After showing just how talented he was with catches like his one-handed TD snag against UTSA that year, he saw his role grow into being the favorite target of Manny Wilkins.
Harry’s biggest game of his sophomore season came against the Oregon Ducks when he caught seven passes for a whopping 170 yards and a 52-yard touchdown as the Devils pulled out a 37-35 win. He also had a 13-catch day for 148 yards against Texas Tech when ASU lost in a 52-45 shootout. The Beavs managed to mostly hold him in check though, with three catches for 68 yards in their meeting last season. Time will tell if OSU will repeat that performance in Tempe on September 29th.
Best Players Oregon State Will Face in 2018