2019 Preseason Award Projections: Biletnikoff Award

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 next fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2020 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Biletnikoff Award is given to the most outstanding receiver in college football. The Biletnikoff Award’s committee states, “Any player, regardless of position – wide receiver, tight end, slot back, and running back – who catches a pass is eligible for the award.” All that being said, the award always goes to a wide receiver. Last year’s winner was Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy.

Biletnikoff Award Winner:

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

The Biletnikoff has not had a repeat winner since Justin Blackmon did it at Oklahoma State in 2010-11. Thus, the odds are against Jeudy winning it again, but he has a lot going for him to produce another huge season for Alabama.

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 had 14 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season was a different story, as 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, turning 68 receptions into 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. He deserved and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as 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 in other receivers and running backs who will 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 and help him land lots of awards and put him in contention to win back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards.

Biletnikoff Runner-Up:

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

The Biletnikoff Award has favored Big XII receivers in recent years, and that is understandable because the conference’s terrible defensive talent produces some massive production for the its members’ wideouts. Thus, I think Lamb has as good a shot as anyone to win the Biletnikoff Award for 2019. I gave the edge to Jeudy because he has an excellent quarterback coming back and Lamb will have a new starter to work with at Oklahoma.

Lamb didn’t get the attention of teammate Hollywood Brown in 2018, but Lamb was very good for the Sooners. 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 totaled 46 receptions for 807 yards and seven scores.

With Brown in the NFL, Lamb should be the No. 1 receiver for the Sooners’ offense in 2019, and under head coach Lincoln Riley it hasn’t mattered who the quarterback has been, as Oklahoma has constantly lit up the scoreboard. Lamb looks poised for a huge year with lots of postseason honors, so he is a top candidate to win the Biletnikoff Award.

Biletnikoff Dark Horse:

Jalen Reagor, TCU

Reagor impressed team evaluators last year, 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 some other recent winners of the Biletnikoff Award, Reagor also enjoys the benefits of the soft coverage that is seen in the Big 12. It wouldn’t shock me if Reagor produces a huge year and wins some postseason honors.

Honorable Mentions: Texas’ Collin Johnson, Clemson’s Tee Higgins, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, 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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