The status of the 2020 college football season remains unknown despite fall practice being scheduled to begin in three weeks.
As of this moment, Tennessee is still set to open year three of the Jeremy Pruitt era against Charlotte on Sept. 5 in Knoxville. That could change if the SEC follows the Big Ten’s lead and shifts to a conference-only schedule.
However, for the time being, Rocky Top Insider is still pressing forward under the assumption that there will be a 2020 season. Leading up to the beginning of fall practice, we are sorting through the best players at each position Tennessee is currently scheduled to face this season.
Next up, we take a look at the 10 best wide receivers the Vols will go up against.
No. 1 — Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (Oct. 24)
Waddle is the third-highest graded returning receiver in the SEC according to Pro Football Focus. The speedy junior wide receiver caught 33 passes for 560 yards and six touchdowns last season while leading the nation in punt return average with 24.4 yards on 20 returns. He also returned one punt for a touchdown. As Alabama’s kick returner, he returned five kick-offs for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Waddle totaled 1,227 all-purpose yards on the season, which ranked third on Alabama’s roster. He was the only wide receiver in college football with over 12.0 yards after the catch per reception in 2019.
No. 2 — Devonta Smith, Alabama (Oct. 24)
Smith doesn’t flash the way Waddle does, but he’s as sure-handed a receiver as you’ll find in the country. PFF graded him as the fourth-best returning receiver in the SEC following a breakout junior season for the Crimson Tide, recording 68 catches and leading the team with 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In his three years at Alabama, Smith has only four drops for a remarkable drop rate of 2.9 percent, according to Sports Info Solutions (the average among wide receivers is 8.4 percent).
No. 3 — George Pickens, Georgia (Nov. 14)
Waddle and Smith are the third and fourth-highest graded returning receivers returning in the SEC, respectively, but Pickens earned the second-highest grade among returning wideouts in the conference. As a freshman last season, Pickens played in all 14 games. He made two starts and finished with 49 catches, 727 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns, all of which were team highs. Pickens did not drop a pass all season.
No. 4 — Charleston Rambo, Oklahoma (Sept. 12)
Oklahoma must replace three of their top four receivers from last season following the departure of first round draft pick Ceedee Lamb. On top of having to replace quite a bit of production, the Sooners’ wide receiver depth is a huge concern going into the season. Star freshman Jaden Haselwood is dealing with a torn ACL, UCLA grad transfer Theo Howard is dealing with a torn Achilles, and sophomore Trejan Bridges will be suspended for the first five games of the season.
Charleston Rambo will be available for the Sooners, however. Rambo was the team’s second-leading receiver last year, catching 43 passes for 743 yards and five touchdowns. Lamb stole all of the attention last season, but Rambo did flash big-play ability on multiple occasions.
No. 5 — Trevon Grimes, Florida (Sept. 26)
Like Oklahoma, Florida also has to replace quite a bit of production at the wide receiver position as it loses four seniors. Still, the Gators have a talented receiver room, and they’re led by Trevon Grimes. The former Ohio State transfer made 11 starts in 13 games last season and had 33 catches, 491 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Over three years in Gainesville, Grimes has appeared in 27 games. He has 62 career receptions for 875 yards and five touchdowns.
No. 6 — Treylon Burks, Arkansas (Oct. 31)
There may be plenty of perceived weaknesses going into Sam Pittman’s inaugural season at Arkansas, but receiver is not one of them. Burks is the best of the talented group. Last season, as a true freshman, he led the team in receiving with 475 yards on 29 catches, starting nine of the 11 games he played. His lone touchdown catch was called back due to a penalty. Burks was also an electric punter returner for the Hogs.
No. 7 — Kadarius Toney, Florida (Sept. 26)
Toney will assist Grimes in replacing the four wide receivers lost to graduation for the Gators, and Toney has the experience, as well as the ability, to be one of the best wide receivers in the conference. The rising senior was banged up for most of the 2019 season, but he still managed to catch 25 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown.
As a sophomore, Toney averaged 10.9 yards on 46 total touches.
No. 8 — Damon Hazelton, Missouri (Oct. 3)
Hazelton is a graduate transfer for the Tigers this fall. At Virginia Tech last season, he hauled in eight touchdowns and 31 catches for 527 yards on his way to earning All-ACC honorable mention. The year prior, Hazelton earned second-team All-ACC honors as he led the team with 51 receptions for 802 yards and eight touchdowns.
Hazelton arrived at Virginia Tech after transferring from Ball State. As a freshman at Ball State in 2016, he made an appearance in 11 games with seven starts at wide receiver and earned the John Hodge Award, presented to Ball State’s top freshman. He led the team with four touchdown receptions and finished second on the team with 51 receptions and 505 receiving yards.
No. 9 — Trey Knox/Mike Woods, Arkansas (Oct. 31)
Paired with Burks, Trey Knox and Mike Woods help form a tremendous trio of wide receivers for Florida graduate transfer Feleipe Franks to throw to.
Woods was the Razorbacks’ leading-receiver last year, catching 33 passes for 423 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns.The rising junior serves as the vocal leader of the group, while Knox was a piece of one of the best freshmen receiver duos in the country along with Burks. Knox started in 11 games and finished the season with 385 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 13.8 yards per catch and ranked third among all SEC freshman receivers in yards and yards per catch.
No. 10 — Victor Tucker, Charlotte (Sept. 5)
Tucker has been Charlotte’s top receiver the past two seasons. In 2018, he was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team and was the third-most productive freshman wide receiver in the entire country with 54 catches and 712 receiving yards. A year later, Tucker hauled in 52 catches for 909 yards and seven touchdowns to earn honorable mention conference honors. He enters his redshirt junior season on the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, which is given to the nation’s top receiver.