2020 Preseason All-American Projections: Wide Receivers

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2020 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 2021 NFL Draft.

First-Team Wide Receivers:
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

This was a no-brainer, as Chase was the best receiver in college football in 2019, averaged 21.2 yards per reception over 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. His dominance helped LSU’s other receivers and its tight ends to produce big seasons as well. The Tigers had a dream season going undefeated and winning a National Championship with Chase being an integral player to their success. One could make a strong argument that he was the best player on the team.

Chase has an excellent skill set, and his raw talent could be enough to produce another big year despite extra coverage that will be sent his direction. The first thing that stands out about Chase is his ability to separate, which is helped by his speed. He has a burst off the line with sudden explosivity to quickly create space between himself and cornerbacks. Chase is fast through his routes, and defensive backs have a near impossible task of running with him. On top of off-game breaking speed, Chase is a quality route-runner and is sudden in out of his breaks. Being fast and sudden translates to Chase being a dangerous yards-after-the-catch weapon. He is elusive in the open field, possessing good moves to dodge tacklers and vision to see openings for longer gains.

It may be hard for Chase to duplicate his production without Joe Burrow at quarterback, but Chase is too talented to be kept down too much and LSU will be sure to get creative to get him the ball. While he may not produce as a large of a stat line in 2020, he still should be one of college football’s best wideouts.

DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Smith went under the radar in 2019 due to playing with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, but Smith is a good prospect in his own right. Team sources said that of those three Alabama receiver prospects, who were all eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, Smith could have the best hands and is the most consistent down-in-and-down-out. Even with the ball being spread to Jeudy, Ruggs, Smith, and Jaylen Waddle last year, Smith managed to produce well, totaling 68 receptions for 1,256 yards with 14 touchdowns. He put together a record-setting game of 11 receptions for 274 yards with five touchdowns against Ole Miss.

Smith is a tough receiver who has demonstrated quality speed, route-running and superb ball skills. He also has proven run-after-the-catch skills and is able to pick up yards after contact and dodge defenders. Smith is fabulous with his body control along the sideline to adjust to passes and stay in bounds as a runner. With Jeudy and Ruggs in the NFL, Smith could be the No. 1 receiver for Alabama in 2020 and produce a huge year that lands him a lot of postseason awards.

Second-Team Wide Receivers:
Chris Olave, Ohio State

The Buckeyes had other good receiving talent with more experience, but Olave became their most dynamic receiver playmaker during the 2019 season. He was a big-time point producer and looked like he was just getting started while totaling 849 yards and 12 touchdowns on only 49 receptions. He has quality height to him with speed to get downfield. Olave could produce a huge junior year thanks to a more experienced Justin Fields at quarterback.

T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech

Team sources say that Vasher jumped out at them last year with his style of play, which is similar to Bengals star A.J. Green. Vasher (6-6, 210) has excellent height, and scouts say he plays fast for that size. While he is not a burner, given his length and size, he has very good speed and quickness. Evaluators say he has outstanding to exceptional hands, superb ball adjustment, and is decent running after the catch. Vasher should dominate the weak Big XII defenses in 2020, and he could produce a big year that lands him a lot of postseason honors.

Third-Team Wide Receivers:
Seth Williams, Auburn

Williams broke out for Auburn in 2019, making some clutch plays downfield for the Tigers. On the year, the big receiver had 59 receptions for 830 yards and eight touchdowns despite playing with a freshman quarterback. As a freshman, Williams had 26 catches for 534 yards and five scores. Williams has the upside to produce a huge junior year if the Auburn passing offense makes strides in its second season with Bo Nix at quarterback.

Tamorrion Terry, Florida State

Terry recorded 44 receptions for 892 yards and eight scores in 2019. He took a touchdown 75 yards against Boise State. Team sources are high on Terry’s potential with his excellent combination of size and speed. The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder is fast for a big receiver and has athleticism. As a redshirt freshman, Terry had 35 receptions for 744 yards and eight touchdowns. He has the upside and skill set to produce a big senior year if Florida State can provide him with competent quarterback play.

Honorable Mentions: Purdue’s Rondale Moore, Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, Houston’s Marquez Stevenson and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman.

2020 Preseason All-American Projections:
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P

2020 Preseason Postseason Award Projections:
Thorpe Award | Biletnikoff Award | Outland Trophy | Rimington Trophy | Mackey Award | O'Brien Award | Doak Walker Award | Jet Award | Walter Camp Award

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