Like every season, college football will send a warm farewell to seniors and those entering the draft.
While the presence, prestige, and highlights of those will be left in a cloud of dust, the football roads, now unfurled, will be handed down to newcomers and returners.
For our 2015 outlook, we flip to the wide receiver position to view some notable players who will be household names come next fall.
KD Cannon – Baylor
Attempting to be as unbiased as I can, the wideout from Baylor will certainly top the lists of previews, outlooks, and media guides across the nation.
Baylor. Wide receivers. Draft. The common theme is trending the past few years while the NFL has sought out a pipeline in Waco as the speed at Baylor has transferred to the NFL with the likes of Kendall Wright (Tennessee) and Terrence Williams (Dallas Cowboys). This year sees Baylor parting ways with senior wide receiver Antwan Goodley, leaving Cannon to spark the Bears in his second season.
Following the era of Robert Griffin III, the Bears reloaded with Nick Florence, who was then replaced with Bryce Petty, and all he did was toss his name out as a Heisman candidate for much of the 2014 season.
Will Baylor make it four-straight strong quarterbacks since being relevant?
Not sure that it really even matters, to be honest.
Running back Shock Linwood defies any fan’s thought that Baylor is a strict air-raid offense. The two-dimensional scheme assists Baylor a hundred times more, and when you can effectively run the ball, that’s when the vertical passing game is unstoppable.
For Cannon, he fits in the Baylor system like a glove and is quite possibly the best fit of any receiver in college football.
Purely, and I mean purely, a dynamicwide receiver, Cannon’s grew throughout the season as his home-run-threat abilities were matched with underneath routes and check downs for Petty.
With the wealth distributed in the five-wide offense that Baylor presents, Cannon’s 1,030 yards in 2014 could make an immense step up for the Bears in his sophomore season.
Pharoh Cooper – South Carolina
With Cooper sporting one of the grandest names in college football, SEC defenses will be highly mismatched whenever a meeting with the Gamecocks takes place.
South Carolina’s 2014 season was subpar if we’re killing the ‘Cocks with kindness. Six tallies were made in the loss column with four by seven points or fewer. Close defeats will likely result in improved seasons forthcoming, but USC struck gold in 2014 with Cooper.
Farewell Connor Shaw, and enter Dylan Thompson. The South Carolina offense, like most SEC squads, turned to high-tempo pace with Cooper flourishing with the new quarterback. Ending the year at no. 18 in yards in ’14 (1,136), Cooper’s role will increase with multiple years already under his belt.
I mentioned the names of LSU’s Malachi Dupre and A&M’s Speedy Noil in my previous column regarding wide receivers, but Cooper’s name will emerge atop the SEC in ’15.
Jared Dangerfield – Western Kentucky
New level, no problem for the junior out of West Palm Beach, Florida as he and the WKU offense surfaced out of nowhere in 2015. The junior college transfer’s inaugural year in the Conference USA was a bright one as Dangerfield led the ‘Toppers to a 7-5 season and a victory in the Bahamas Bowl.
Tied for 13th in the country with 11 scores, the junior’s team-leading 825 yards deceived many considering the Hilltoppers’ offense contained six, count it six, receivers that caught 30+ passes, scored three or more touchdowns, and notched 450 yards or more.
Impressive? More like unheard of.
What should give shivers up the spines of college football fans is the fact that the Hilltoppers will bring back gunslinger Brandon Doughty and his 2014 statistics of 4,830 yards and 49 touchdowns.
While Marshall loses a highly-touted quarterback in Rakeem Cato, Western Kentucky may shove any offensive competitors out of the way and solidify its position as one of best units not only in conference play but the country as a whole.
If that is the case, watch out for Dangerfield after his initial season in Division-I blossomed. While topping those numbers in 2014 remains a tough feat, returning a quarterback in Doughty will only assist him.