2022 Biletnikoff Award Watchlist: Who Are the Top WRs in College Football
The 2022 Fred Biletnikoff Award will be rewarded to the best receiver in college football as determined by a national selection committe of over 600 journalists. The award is named after Fred Biletnikoff, a 1960s Florida State wide receiver who is widely considered to be one of the greatest wide receivers of all time on the collegiate and professional level. The award started in 1994 with the best receiver of the year winning the award. There are many factors that go into it such as receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, major big plays or moments, etc.
Many players that have won this award have gone on to have major NFL success including Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Ja’Marr Chase, and so on. It’s important to know what players are going to be considered for this award as these guys will not only affect the upcoming college football season, but because some of these guys could become household names if they eventually wind up in the NFL for a prosperous career. While there are many great receivers coming to play this season, these are some of the players I believe will be the leading contenders for this year’s Biletnikoff Award:
Biletnikoff Award Contenders
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba will not only be a leading candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, but also as a potential Heisman candidate. He is currently +2500 on his Heisman odds and the highest out of any receiver. The junior will come in as WR1 on a high-powered Ohio State offense this season. He will have a fellow Heisman candidate in C.J. Stroud throwing him the pigskin so he will have a great opportunity to fill the stat sheet with yards and touchdowns. It’s not just who’s throwing to him a reason why he is so high. Smith-Njigba is one of the most talented wide receivers in the country and showed that last season with Ohio State as an already important factor in the Buckeyes offense. The Rose Bowl allowed him to truly show off his most impressive game to date where he was able to grab 3 TDs and 347 yards against Utah. Keep your eye on Smith-Njigba to be a major threat this college football season.
The advanced analytics love Jaxon Smith-Njigba. In fact, his 2021 season was arguably the most efficient year for a WR in recent history.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) August 10, 2022
Jordan Addison: Southern California
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner has plenty of reasons on why he could repeat and take this trophy home yet again. Jordan Addison enters his third season in college football but will be entering his first season with a new team in the USC Trojans. Addison played at Pitt his freshman and sophomore season and was teamed up with QB Kenny Pickett last season where he led the league in receiving touchdowns with 17. He was also able to go for 100 catches and 1,593 yards on his way to winning this award last year. Now he joins a newly equipped USC team with offensive guru head coach Lincoln Riley. Riley brought with him Heisman candidate QB Caleb Williams that will surely give Addison plenty of chances to have another breakout receiving season. Addison currently is +7000 to win the Heisman as well, so also could be something to keep your eye on. Since the beginning of this award, only two other players have won the award twice in a row in Michael Crabtree and Justin Blackmon. Addison has a great chance at joining them depending on the kind of season he has.
Marvin Harrison Jr.: Ohio State
Another Ohio State Wideout that has a good chance at winning this award is Marvin Harrison Jr. He may not be getting as much hype as Smith-Njigba but expect Harrison Jr. to have a monster season this year where he could surpass his teammate as WR1. Regardless, the two will be an elite combo that will give Ohio State the strongest receiving weapons in the country. He is the son of NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison and is starting to show he has many similar wideout skills as his old man. Playing only as a reserve freshman last season, he was only able to go for 139 yards and 11 receptions. He also didn’t get his first start until the Rose Bowl last season. In that game he caught three TDs and went for 71 yards. Expect him to truly come into full form this season as he will get a complete season of starting under his belt.
Brock Bowers: Georgia
The first Tight End to make the list from the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Brock Bowers came in as a true freshman last year and had an incredible season where he caught 13 TDs and 882 receiving yards. Bowers broke single season Georgia records for not only most touchdowns by a tight end, but for most yards by a freshman as well. Bowers went on to be named First-Team All-SEC for a tight end. He was also named as SEC Freshman of the Year and a Second-team All-American. Bowers enters his sophomore season as the projected best Tight End in the country and if he continues with his stats from last year, he can find himself competing with wide receivers for the Biletnikoff Award this season.
#UGA offensive coordinator Todd Monken had a lot to say recently about his tight end group.
What makes it the best group in college football?
Read the details on Dawg Posthttps://t.co/w2PMh24ltg
— DawgPost (@Dawg_Post) August 12, 2022
Kayshon Boutte: LSU
Kayshon Boutte might be the most talented receiver out of any in this upcoming college football season and may be a huge prospect in next year’s NFL Draft. Coming off an ankle injury, expect a big season out of Boutte as a true junior. Boutte was only able to play in six games last season before his injury, but he was still able to go for nine TDS and 509 yards before his season was cut short. He did so as well in a down year for LSU and their offense. With a new Brian Kelly-led Tiger team with a new offensive coordinator, the offense will have a little bit of a jumpstart where Boutte will be looked at as the catalyst to getting this new Tiger era started. Boutte will be expected to have a big NFL career one day, but for this year I expect a huge season with the Tigers where he has a very good shot at hoisting the Biletnikoff Award.
“Can he be the best receiver in the country? I think he can be.”
Brian Kelly applauding Kayshon Boutte in his opening press conference of fall camp🐯 pic.twitter.com/7N3Md8xUIO
— Mik’d Up (@Mikdup_8) August 6, 2022
Michael Mayer: Notre Dame
Another Tight End to make the watch list is Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer. Mayer comes into this season a junior and fresh off a season where he was named Third-team All-American by the AP. Mayer had seven TDs and 840 yards last season and he will be an important part in the Irish’s transition to a new QB in either Tyler Buchner or Drew Pyne. As last season’s QB Jack Coan is gone, Mayer will be a major target with their new quarterback. The Irish will have a new head coach this season but Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees will still be calling the plays that will continue to keep Mayer as one of the most targeted Tight Ends in the country. He is a projected high draft pick next season and don’t be surprised that he makes a run at the Biletnikoff before heading to the NFL.
Jayden Reed: Michigan State
Jayden Reed enters his fourth season in College Football and one of the oldest on this list at 22 years old. He started his career in 2018 at Western Michigan before transferring to Michigan State. After redshirting in 2019, he has played two seasons with the Spartans but it was his 2021 campaign that has his name on this list. Last season he was able to put up ten touchdowns and 1,026 receiving yards on top of that. Reed and Spartan QB Payton Thorne are a good combo that will make sure Reed gets plenty of chances to keep his TD and yard statistics near the top of the Big Ten. He finished last year as Second-Team All-Big Ten and has an opportunity to compete for First-Team this year along with Smith-Njigba and Harrison Jr. With the departure of running back Kenneth Walker, Michigan State may be more pass heavy this season and Reed will be that top target this year that could give him a run at being the top receiver in the country.
Marvin Mims: Oklahoma
Marvin Mims led the Sooners in receiving yards last season with 705 yards and will be an important player in this new look Oklahoma team under new head coach Brent Venables. Mims also had five TD receptions last season in a year where Oklahoma went under a quarterback change midseason. Mims was named to Second-Team All-Big 12 in 2021 and he has a good chance at continuing to play at an All-conference level this season as well as he will be matching up with new starting QB Dillon Gabriel. If the Sooners have a dominant Big-12 season, Mims will be a big reason as to why.