1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Jaxon Smith-Njigba set program records for Ohio State in receptions (95) and receiving yards (1606) as a sophomore while competing for targets with the 10th and 11th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Now he is the undisputed alpha in a loaded Buckeye receiver room. We already saw what Smith-Njigba can do without Wilson and Olave in the Rose Bowl performance where he had a school-record and all-time bowl game record 347 receiving yards. He broke out against Nebraska with a 240 yard showing, third-most in Ohio State history, in a game that Wilson missed. CJ Stroud may be the best quarterback in the country and Smith-Njigba is the best receiver in football. The Buckeye offense will break more records. Smith-Njigba is not just the runaway favorite for the Biletnikoff, but a legitimate Heisman contender.
2. Xavier Worthy
2021 Freshman All-American Xavier Worthy has already proved that he is one of the most talented wideouts in the nation. Worthy now has an upgrade at quarterback with transfer Quinn Ewers. The two will make up a game-changing dynamic duo. Head coach Steve Sarkisian will continue to implement his all gas, no brakes offense in year two. Wyoming transfer Isaiah Neyor (also on the Biletnikoff Award Watchlist) and Worthy form the top receiver duo in the Big 12. Sarkisian was the conductor of the 2020 national-championship-winning Alabama offense that had an electric receiver duo in Heisman winner Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. There is room for two elite receivers in this offense and I expect Worthy to take his play to another level this season.
3. Kayshon Boutte
Kayshon Boutte is the next in line for LSU’s wide receiver factory. His athletic ability is on par with former Tigers such as Odell Beckham Jr and Ja’Marr Chase. He may be the most explosive receiver in all of college football. His sophomore season was cut short due to injury but he still put up over 500 yards and nine touchdowns. It was recently announced that Boutte will wear the historic number seven jersey, following in the footsteps of players like Patrick Peterson, Leonard Fournette, and Derek Stingley. This reinforces that Boutte will be the centerpiece of the Tigers offense. His upside is as high as any player in college football. Health concerns and uncertainty at quarterback could hold Boutte back, but he could very realistically be the second LSU Tiger to win the Biletnikoff in four years.
4. Jordan Addison
Jordan Addison’s decision to transfer to USC was the biggest and most controversial move of the off-season. Addison already won the Biletnikoff last year so he could receive some voter fatigue, but will benefit from being in a new high-powered offense. Caleb Williams should be one of the top passers in the nation, and Lincoln Riley has consistently produced top receivers like CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown. The last receiver to win back-to-back Biletnikoff’s was Justin Blackmon in 2010 and 2011. Addison and the new-look Trojans may undergo a bit of a learning curve in year one of the Riley era which won’t be conducive to Addison putting up crazy stats, but nonetheless he will still be an elite receiver.
5. Cedric Tillman
The Tennessee Volunteers had one of the most prolific offenses in all of college football in 2021 and Cedric Tillman was a big reason why. His 1081 receiving yards were fifth in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), only behind top-50 draft selections Jameson Williams, Wan’dale Robinson, John Metchie, and Treylon Burks. Also returning for the Volunteers is quarterback Hendon Hooker who threw for 31 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions last season. Tillman and Hooker have the best quarterback to receiver connection in the conference. Year two in Josh Heupel’s up-tempo offense should be even more productive for Tillman. If Tennessee is able to position itself as a contender in the SEC, Tillman will certainly be a big reason why and will receive Biletnikoff hype for play.
Quintin Johnston, TCU
Dontaviyon Wicks, Virginia
AT Perry, Wake Forest
Tyler Harrell, Alabama
Marvin Harrison Jr, Ohio State