2019 Preseason All-American Projections: Wide Receivers

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2019 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2020 NFL Draft.

First-Team Wide Receivers:
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
This was a no brainer because Jeudy was the best receiver in college football in 2018. NFL scouts who were attending Alabama’s practices in the fall of 2017 told me that Jeudy was the next great Crimson Tide receiver to keep the tradition going under Nick Saban that has seen elite receivers like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley dominate the competition. Those scouts had very good foresight as that season Jeudy only totaled 14 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season was a different story when Jeudy took over as the No. 1 receiver replacing Ridley. The Alabama passing attack was also much more potent with Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback instead of Jalen Hurts. Jeudy was a sophomore sensation, recording 68 receptions for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. He deserved and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for being the best wide receiver in college football.

Jeudy has an easy schedule in the first half of the year to produce plenty of highlight-reel plays while beating up on weak competition. He has a lot of talent around him other receivers and running backs who make it harder for teams to send lots of extra attention his direction. And most important of all, Jeudy has an excellent quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who can get him the ball. The 2019 season should be a prolific year for Jeudy that lands him lots of awards, including being a First-Team All-American.

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Picking Lamb is a similar no-brainer to Jeudy, but due to playing in a point-machine offense in a conference with little semblence of a competent defense. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound Lamb should have his way with the weak Big XII secondaries and produce a huge junior year as the Sooners’ leading receiver.

Lamb didn’t get the attention of teammate Hollywood Brown, but Lamb was very good for the Sooners in 2018. He hauled in 65 receptions for 1,158 yards with 11 touchdowns on the season. His average of 17.8 yards per catch illustrated the quickness he has and his ability to produce big plays. In 2017, he had 46 receptions for 807 yards and seven scores.

With Brown in the NFL, Lamb should be the No. 1 receiver for the Oklahome offense, and under head coach Lincoln Riley, it hasn’t mattered who the quarterback was as Oklahoma has constantly lit up the scoreboard. Lamb looks poised for a huge year with lots of postseason honors.

Second-Team Wide Receivers:
Collin Johnson, Texas
Johnson has a lot going for him to have a big 2019 season. He has an experienced quarterback in Sam Ehlinger, who showed some nice chemistry with Johnson last season. Texas enjoys playing weak defenses in the Big XII, and with Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the NFL, Johnson is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the Longhorns.

In 2018, Johnson had 68 catches for 985 yards and seven touchdowns. He possesses mismatch size, but he does not play as big as he should. He doesn’t bully corners or do as well as one would expect at leaping to high point the ball over receivers. Johnson has some quickness, and he can sink his hips better than one would expect for such a big receiver. He has issues tracking the ball and playing it in the air, but he has some impressive movement skills for a big wideout. Johnson has the upside to be better this fall and could easily win a lot of accolades at the end of the year.

Tee Higgins, Clemson
As usual, the Clemson Tigers will have a lot of attention paid to them coming off winning the National Championship, plus having a star quarterback generates a lot of hype. Higgins came into his own in 2018 and became a steady producer for the Tigers. He totaled 936 yards on 59 receptions with 12 touchdowns on the season. Hiigns is capable of producing more, but Clemson has a lot of receivers to split up targets, so that could reduce the stat line Higgins produces compared to some of the other top receivers in college football.

Third-Team Wide Receivers:
Laviska Shenault, Colorado
Shenault was one of the more steady wide receivers in 2018, totaling 86 receptions for 1,011 yards with six touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is the No. 1 receiver for Steven Montez and has made the Buffaloes quarterback look good at times. They could produce a big year playing in a lot of shootouts, which could land Shenault some postseason honors.

Jalen Reagor, TCU
Reagor impressed team evaluators last year by showing speed, route-running, and an ability to produce points. The sophomore totaled 72 receptions for 1,061 yards with nine touchdowns. In 2017, he collected 33 catches for 576 yards and eight scores. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder Reagor lacks height, but he makes up for it with play-making ability. Like many of the players listed above, Reagor also enjoys the benefit of the generally soft coverage is seen in the Big XII.

Honorable Mentions: Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden, USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson, Alabama’s Henry Ruggs, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, North Texas’ Rico Bussey Jr., Ohio State’s K.J. Hill and Florida’s Van Jefferson.

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