Welcome to the “WR U” edition of the NFL University series. As we covered in the kickoff article to the series, Miami University or “The U” is aptly nicknamed. They’ve given the NFL more than 30,000 PPR fantasy football points since the year 2000. But what university should truly be given the coveted “WR U” title? That’s where this article comes in.
Since the year 2000, almost exactly 1,000 different wide receivers have logged a catch in the NFL. Among those 1,000 wide receivers, about 240 universities and community colleges are represented. But where do the top producing wide receivers come from?
If we look at just the top 15% of producers at wide receiver (players with at least 700 PPR points since 2000) we find only 85 schools are represented among that cohort. Yes, that will exclude some of the most recent individual producers, but we’ll get to that. When we look at schools that gave us just three receivers with 700 or more PPR points since 2000 we’re already down to 16 schools.
Miami (NFL University) has had three unbelievable top producers in Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Santana Moss. LSU gave us Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Dwayne Bowe, Eddie Kennison, and even long-time role players like Brandon LaFell and Devery Henderson. Florida sent the always under appreciated Darrell Jackson, Percy Harvin, Jabar Gafney, and steady contributors Ike Hilliard, and Travis Taylor.
But only one school has gifted the NFL with eight wide receivers that have scored at least 700 PPR fantasy points since 2000. Only one school has seen eight first round wide receivers produce in the NFL since 2000. Only one school has provided us with 117 collective seasons of NFL production at the wide receiver position in that same time frame. And only one school can be the true WR University.
Drum roll please …
The real WR U is — and I hate to admit it because I’m a Purdue University alum — “The” Ohio State University.
Yes, a few other schools came close, but Ohio State has dominated wide receiver production since 2000. Joey Galloway, Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn, Terry Glenn, Michael Jenkins, Brian Hartline, David Boston, and Michael Thomas have all scored over 700 PPR in that time span. And Michael Thomas is far from done.
Cris Carter was still finishing up his Hall of Fame career in the early 2000s. Terrelle Pryor splashed at quarterback and converted to wide receiver. And even Curtis Samuel looks promising now for the Panthers. The list goes on.
Starting in 2019 the Buckeyes get two more potential producers: Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. As outlined in the Adjusted Production Index for this season, neither prospect has a solid production profile. However, both are in what seem to be good situations. Campbell has Andrew Luck throwing him the ball. McLaurin is competing with basically just Josh Doctson and (always hurt) Paul Richardson.
Ohio State’s WR U momentum doesn’t look it’s going to be slowing down any time soon, but there have certainly been some challengers rise up in recent years.
“Ah, yes, this looks more like I expected.” — Most of you, probably.
Yes, indeed, LSU and Clemson have absolutely dominated wide receiver production since 2014.
The legendary 2014 receiver class definitely helped LSU quite a bit. Both Beckham and Landry have logged over 1,100 PPR in their still young careers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries, and Martavis Bryant have all produced at times, representing Clemson. It’s still crazy that all four were on the same 2012 Clemson roster.
Alabama was a virtual zero at the wide receiver position until Julio Jones came along. But now with Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, and even Robert Foster producing, Alabama could continue rising.
California still has DeSean Jackson, Keenan Allen, and Marvin Jones racking up points for them. USC has JuJu Smith-Schuster and Robert Woods. But which school looks like they have some future players in the pipeline ready to continue the battle for WR U status?
Alabama is certainly making a strong case to become the next generation’s WR U. According to the latest Rotoviz Devy Rankings, Alabama currently has three of the top 13 future NFL wide receivers on their team. Jerry Jeudy just won the Biletnikoff Award for being voted college football’s best receiver. Henry Ruggs holds the Alabama state record in the 100m dash and looks like he’s even gotten faster in college. And Jaylen Waddle just dropped a 45/848/7 true freshman season. The Crimson Tide have some ground to make up if they want to be considered “WR U,” but they’re well on their way.
Clemson may not have three of the top 13 in the Rotoviz Devy Rankings, but they might end up with four. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross are both top nine according to our team. Both are likely locked for top end draft capital already. But Clemson also just added top rated true freshman Joe Ngata and Frank Ladson. Ngata is 6 feet 4 inches and already up to 215 pounds. He should be able to win outside right away. Ladson is a little scrawny right now, but may already be the best route runner of the bunch.
Oklahoma just sent Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the NFL via the first round to the Baltimore Ravens. They have 2020 eligible CeeDee Lamb in the pipeline as well. He should easily eclipse 1,200 yards this season as the alpha for the Sooners and see significant draft capital. Once Lamb leaves, the Sooners have two top incoming freshman as well in Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease. Haselwood is more like Hollywood Brown. Wease plays like Lamb.
USC has one of the best trios at wide receiver in the nation right now: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns, and Michael Pittman. If that crew pans out the Trojans could continue their dominance at the position as well.
But as for the real WR U, Ohio State looks like they’re safe for now. K.J. Hill (another impressive speedster) could end up surprising us with some draft capital in 2020. And they just nabbed possibly the best wide receiver recruit in the nation in Garrett Wilson. He’ll immediately plug into the Buckeye offense as an early producer. Unless something changes quickly, Ohio State looks like they’ll hold the WR U crown for quite some time.
As college football season approaches, I’ll be diving further into “NFL U” type teams and the players on their current rosters that could be scoring fantasy points in the NFL shortly. We still have to tackle quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends!
As always, reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM if you have questions or suggestions. And keep living that Dynasty Life!
Image Credit: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Justin Jefferson.
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