Over next two weeks I’ll take a look at the top five players at each position Auburn will face this fall.
Between Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Terrace Marshall, and Elijah Moore, the SEC was absolutely loaded with playmakers at wide receiver last season. On paper, there isn’t as much proven production returning this fall so chances are good some names not on this list will explode to become the next big time wideouts in the conference. For now though I am focusing on more proven products.
Here are the five wide receivers AU fans should know heading into 2021.
5.) Kearis Jackson (Georgia)
2020 Stats: 36 rec 514 yds (15.8 avg) 3 TD
Career Stats: 41 rec 593 yds (14.3 avg) 3 TD
With George Pickens likely to miss much of, if not all of the 2021 season due to an injury, look for Kearis Jackson to take an even larger role this fall. The former 4-star Auburn target lit up the Tigers last fall to the tune of 147 yards on 9 catches. Christian Tutt struggled all night to match up with the shifty playmaker in the slot. Luckily, Auburn has a plethora of different options to throw at him this fall. They’ll need them because Jackson is likely to be on of UGA’s leading receivers in 2021.
4.) Kayshon Boutte (LSU)
2020 & Career Stats: 45 rec 735 yds (16.3 avg) 5 TD
All the weapons from that 2019 offense are gone. Their prized 5-star tight end Arik Gilbert is now in Athens. That highly rated running back room as disappointed thus far. There’s still lots of questions surrounding the quarterback position. Who exactly can LSU fans put their faith in to be the leader of this offense this fall?
That’s easy. Kayshon Boutte.
Sporting the most Louisiana name of all time, the former 5-star exploded late in the season after Max Johnson’s insertion at QB. Boutte went over 100 yards in LSU’s final 3 games including catching 14 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Rebels. That high level of play continued into the spring and he heads into the fall as LSU’s one proven weapon on that offense. The Tigers always seem to have an NFL wideout somewhere on the field and chances are good Boutte will be that guy in 2021.
3.) John Metchie (Alabama)
2020 Stats: 55 rec 916 yds (16.7 avg) 6 TD
Career Stats: 59 rec 939 yds (15.9 avg) 6 TD
Metchie started the season as Bama’s #3 WR but following Waddle’s injury he emerged as Devonta Smith’s robin. When teams spent too much time focused on shutting down Smith (though no one was actually successful) Patriots backup quarterback Mac Jones could just bomb it to Metchie in a 1 on 1 situation. The former blue chip product of Hightstown, NJ is poised to take over as the Tide’s top wideout and will likely be Bryce Young’s favorite target this fall.
2.) Treylon Burks (Arkansas)
2020 Stats: 51 rec 820 yds (16.1 avg) 7 TD 15 carries 75 yds (5.0 avg)
Career Stats: 80 rec 1,295 yds (16.2 avg) 7 TD 24 carries 110 yds (4.6 avg)
Say what you will about Chad Morris as a playcaller (and man do Arkansas fans on the internet have plenty to say) but the man could recruit some skill talent. Burks flashed as a true freshman in 2019 on an awful Arkansas team before blossoming into one of the top wideouts in the conference last season on an improved but still mediocre Arkansas team.
Possessing a ridiculous frame at 6’3” 232 lbs, he’s a nightmare in jump ball scenarios but what makes him deadly is his surprising speed after the catch. Per PFF, Burks ranks 10th among Power Five receivers over the past 2 seasons in 20-plus yard receptions with 17. He’s a big play waiting to happen and a future NFL Draft pick.
1.) Jahan Dotson (Penn State)
2020 Stats: 52 rec 884 yds (17.0 avg) 8 TD
Career Stats: 92 rec 1,575 yds (17.1 avg) 13 TD
Other players on this list might have higher grades on PFF or might be ranked higher by NFL Draft experts but for my money the toughest matchup this fall for Auburn’s defensive backfield is on Jahan Dotson. He doesn’t have the size of some of these other guys on the list but more than makes up for it with his leaping ability. And his hands? Ya they are pretty good.
Most valuable WR returning to CFB in 2021:— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 3, 2021
Jahan Dotson, Penn State pic.twitter.com/sYhiylua5a
The Nittany Lions will likely move him all over the field hunting advantageous matchups. He’s an explosive weapon on the outside and is at his best when lined up off the line of scrimmage and can get a clean release. This will be a great early test for NFL 1st round hopefuls Roger McCreary and Dreshun Miller.