#1 - Tylan Wallace - Oklahoma State
When you’re a finalist for an award that goes to the best wide receiver in football, odds are you’re probably one of the toughest covers in the nation. That’s precisely the case with Tylan Wallace, who very easily could wreak havoc on Oregon State’s secondary in Week 1. In the best sophomore season from an OK State wide receiver since Justin Blackmon, Wallace had 86 receptions last year for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns on 17.3 yards per catch. All of those ranked in the top 15 nationally. He was First Team All-Big 12, a first team All-American by ESPN and The Sporting News, second team All-American by AP, Sports Illustrated and USA Today as well as Oklahoma State’s team MVP.
Boy that’s a lot of accolades. And there’s a good reason for them. He had seven 100-yard receiving games last season and was the first player in Cowboys’ history to post two 200-yard receiving games against ranked opponents in the same season (222 yards against Texas and 220 against Oklahoma, both with 10 catches). Yeah, he’s not going to be fun to defend.
#2 - Cedric Byrd - Hawaii
The Rainbow Warriors have historically been a team who loves to throw the football. They aren’t quite as electric as when Colt Brennan slung it for over 5,500 yards and 58 touchdowns in 2006, but they’re still effective in that area. Cedric Byrd looks to be the main guy catching passes in this offense. The senior is an extremely efficient receiver on a pass-happy, chaotic football team. Last season he had 970 yards and nine touchdowns on 79 catches. He was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List last season before John Ursua took off as the top guy. After primarily playing in the slot last season, he could cause a lot of problems on the edges for opponents.
#3 - Aaron Fuller - Washington
There are some unknowns surrounding Washington offensively, specifically regarding how Jacob Eason will fill in for Browning. One certainty is Aaron Fuller will be one of his go-to targets in 2019. The senior has caught 100 passes for 1,349 yards the past three seasons and transitioned into the primary pass-catcher last season. He put up big games against Auburn (seven catches for 135 yards) and Ohio State (seven for 80 in the Rose Bowl). Athlon Sports projected Fuller to finish second-team All-Pac 12 at the receiver slot. If Eason can get the ball to him consistently, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to attain such honors.
#4 - Dezmon Patmon - Washington State
Mike Leach has made his position on having a balanced offense clear, stating with a vigor unique to the air-raid/pirate king that “There’s nothing balanced about 50 percent run, 50 percent pass, because that’s 50 percent stupid.” That statement alone makes it very clear that the Cougars are going to continue throwing the ball a lot, and Dezmon Patmon seems primed to be one of the guys. He was their leading receiver last year at 816 yards for five touchdowns. Washington State has no dearth of talented receivers, but Patmon stands out for now as the alpha.
#5 - Theo Howard - UCLA
Howard wasn’t amazing last season, but honestly, UCLA as a whole wasn’t great. The senior had 677 years on 51 receptions and only four touchdowns, but it was very much so a transition year for the Bruins, and they probably are at least one year away from really exploding. Still, Chip Kelly has to have something up his sleeve for year two, right? As one of the top receivers coming back for the Bruins, the senior is expected to start figuring things out and get going.