However the two players most worthy are Dez Bryant from the high powered Oklahoma State offense and rising sophomore Julio Jones from Alabama.
Dez Bryant (6’2”, 215 lbs)
Entering his junior season Bryant is coming off a 1,480 yard and 19 touchdown year in Stillwater as the best recognized face of Mike Gundy’s fast break spread attack. Bryant’s production at 113.9 yards per game is equally as astounding as the 87 receptions that he amassed just a season ago and the high flying Cowboys appear poised to attack this season in the same manner.
He’s an explosive athlete capable of making highlight reel catches from anywhere on the field and he’s made a living on elevating to catch the back shoulder fade and the jump ball from quarterback Zac Robinson. Not only does he elevate to high point the ball but his body control and ability to make sure catches with his hands make him incredibly difficult to defend.
After the catch Bryant is equally as difficult; he’s a true burner whose body control in jumping to catch the ball is also exhibited in his running ability. He stops on a dime, changes direction fluidly and his field vision is exceptional. Bryant not only possesses the acceleration to separate from defenders, the ability to out jump cornerbacks but also the speed to outrun pursuit.
Julio Jones (6’4”, 210 lbs)
Jones was the number one recruit in the nation entering his freshman year with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide last season. Although he suffered from wrist and shoulder injuries Jones led the Tide in receptions (58) and yards (924). In other words he played as advertised by his recruiting hype. The rising sophomore is an exceptional route runner with a tremendous feel for the game and the body to take the SEC beating.
Under Saban’s pro styled offense Jones did most of his damage running three and five step drop routes with most of his longer work coming off the Tide’s dangerous play action game. He gets in and out of his breaks with great quickness, catches the football with his hands and is a load to bring down after the catch.
As just a freshman he exhibited serious discipline in finding holes in zones, gaining separation from defenders and making the big catch when Alabama needed one. Although he’s not the speed demon other receivers are Jones showed himself more than capable of breaking big gains and getting behind defenders to make huge grabs.
Both receivers have the size and speed to be solid both in college and at the next level. They also both put up strong numbers in the system in which they perform however only one can truly be crowned the nations best.
That player is Julio Jones.
Yes, Dez Bryant has the edge in yardage and touchdowns and the junior has compiled a body of work that makes him appear to be untouchable. Jones will never equal Bryant’s catches or per game yardage either, but when ranking receivers the system they play in cannot be the only determining factor.
Julio Jones was the only legitimate receiving threat on the Tide’s run-centric and defensive lead unit. On the flipside Bryant played along side NFL tight end Brandon Pettigrew and future NFL draft picks Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter in a fast break spread offense attack.
System is not the only reason my nod goes to Julio Jones; the big game performance during the season also gives the edge to the youngster. While Bryant had monster games of 236, 171 and 166 yards, all of which trumped Jones’ best efforts of 128, 124 and 94 yards; Bryant’s best games came against the less than juggernaut caliber squads of Houston, Iowa State and Troy. He also piled up 10 of his 19 touchdowns in these blow out efforts.
Julio Jones put up his aforementioned best efforts against LSU, Florida and Georgia; the #32, #22 and #9 defenses and best teams on the schedule from a season ago. In Bryant’s three biggest games; Texas, OU and Texas Tech he only reached 74, 91 and 86 yards respectively in each of the loss.
For this upcoming season Bryant must show up in those Big XII South contests for the Cowboys to have a shot at the elusive divisional title. With that said although Jones didn’t put up the monster season of Bryant he did show up big in the Tide’s biggest contests and that is why the sophomore is this years Best of the Best at Wide Receiver.