With more SEC offenses evolving into pass-heavy schemes, the conference claims a number of elite receivers heading into 2016.
One reliable option at receiver is not good enough to be among the best passing teams in the league. Defenses in the SEC are too good at taking away a team’s top option in the passing game, and that can lead to frustration from an offensive standpoint.
What really sets offenses apart is the luxury of more than one steady option at wide receiver to take away any potential double teams from opposing defenses. Let’s take a look at the SEC’s top receiver tandems heading into the fall.
Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds – Texas A&M
It’s hard to find a better wide receiver corps than at Texas A&M. Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds lead a pack of talented receivers, which also includes Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil.
Last season, Kirk took the SEC by storm in his freshman season, as he racked up the third-most receiving yards in the conference with 1,009. He also totaled 80 receptions and seven touchdowns. Reynolds, who is the veteran leader of the group, was not far behind his young counterpart with 907 yards and five touchdowns on 51 catches.
With the Aggies hoping to have more stability at quarterback (Trevor Knight), the potential is great for this dynamic duo.
Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural – LSU
One of the more under the radar receiving rooms in the SEC can be found at LSU. While defensive coordinators worry about slowing down Heisman Trophy candidate and Tigers running back Leonard Fournette, LSU wideouts Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural are looking to add another dimension to the Tigers offense.
Dupre has shown how good he can be throughout his career, and last season was no different. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound wideout totaled 43 receptions for 698 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. His teammate, Dural, added 28 catches, 533 yards and three touchdowns last year. If LSU quarterback Brandon Harris can finally make the big jump in production that many have anticipated throughout his career, Dupre and Dural should feast on SEC secondaries.
Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart – Alabama
Although Texas A&M’s Kirk was fantastic during his freshman season, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley was the best freshman wide receiver in the SEC last year. He finished second in the league with 1,045 receiving yards and also had 89 receptions and seven touchdowns. Now, Ridley has a year under his belt and is looking to take another step forward in the Crimson Tide offense.
Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart should help that cause, as he is also an ultra-talented playmaker for the Crimson Tide. Stewart posted 63 receptions, 700 yards and four touchdowns in 2014. As long as Alabama can find steady play at quarterback, Ridley and Stewart should give opposing teams fits.
Then again, Robert Foster could be the No. 1 receiver on Alabama’s team this year. He missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury. And that’s not including Gehrig Dieter, a 1,000-yard receiver for Bowling Green last year who may start in the slot.
Damore’ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyejo – Ole Miss
Despite losing Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss still has one of the conference’s best collection of pass-catchers heading into 2015 thanks in large part to the tandem of Damore’ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyejo. But don’t also forget about guys like tight end Evan Engram and wideouts Markell Pack, Demarkus Lodge, Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
However, things start with Stringfellow and Adeboyejo, and it’s easy to see why. Stringfellow will move into the Treadwell role this fall after posting 36 receptions, 503 yards and five touchdowns last season. Adeboyejo added 38 catches for 604 yards and seven touchdowns. With Chad Kelly back at quarterback, there should be plenty of chances for this tandem to wreck havoc throughout the SEC.
Fred Ross and Brandon Holloway – Mississippi State
Although Mississippi State lost two big playmaking wide receivers in De’Runnya Wilson (NFL draft) and Fred Brown (dismissed from team), the Bulldogs still have some talent at wide receiver, including one of the SEC’s best pass catchers in Fred Ross.
Ross was one of four players to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards a year ago as he totaled 88 receptions, 1,007 yards and five touchdowns. His counterpart this season will be senior Brandon Holloway, who had 33 receptions for 396 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Mississippi State still has to figure out who will start at quarterback, but whomever wins the job will have the luxury of throwing to one of the SEC’s best wide receiver tandems.