The Pac-12 has always been lauded as a quarterbacks conference. Some of the best arms to pass through college football and eventually the NFL got their start on the West Coast, and eye-popping numbers are no surprise on this side of the country.
With such immense talent at the quarterback position, you would figure these future pros have plenty of options to choose from in terms of where to sling the ball. This year, that will be the case, but the Pac-12 lacks star power at wide receiver.
This week, the staff at House of Sparky voted on our Pac-12 Power Rankings at wide receiver, and here's what we came up with.
The Trojans earn this spot by virtue of one player. Yes, Marqise Lee is that good. With 118 catches, 1721 yards, and 14 touchdowns last season, Lee was far and away the conference's most productive receiver. Stopping USC is all about slowing down Lee, and for some teams, that's simply impossible.
Who else does USC sport at receiver? Nelson Agholor and Victor Blackwell. Each are viable options and have the speed to beat opponents down field, so that makes shutting down Lee all the more difficult.
What do you get when you have one of the conference's top receivers and three four-star recruits at the position? A damn good receiving corps.
Kasen Williams caught 77 passes last season, and is Keith Price's favorite target, even with Austin Seferian-Jenkins on the field. With highly touted recruits like Darrell Daniels and John Ross coming in, Washington should have one of the most balanced offenses in the conference.
It doesn't really matter who the Ducks line up out wide. We know every guy on that roster is a speed demon with game-breaking ability and when you have Marcus Mariota, things will open up.
With that being said, having Josh Huff doesn't hurt. According to Bleacher Report, the Ducks list 16 receivers on their roster, so we have a feeling they'll find someone to line up opposite of Huff who can be productive. Perhaps De'Anthony Thomas sees time at receiver, or they go the traditional route with Keanon Lowe and Daryle Hawkins. Either way, they'll be good.
4. Oregon State
Aside from Lee and Williams, the conference's best receiving threat resides in Corvallis. You may not have heard of Brandin Cooks, but by the end of the season, you will. Cooks averaged more than five catches per game last season and with the departure of Markus Wheaton, that number figures to rise this year.
The Beavers are a little green in terms of experience, as Kevin Cummings (28, 328 yards, 2 TDs) is their next option, but the Beavers earn our number four spot because we believe Cooks is primed for a 100-catch year.
5. Washington State
Washington State can hurt you in a variety of ways. (I bet that's something you didn't expect to read this year.) What the Cougars lack in the running game, they make up for through the air as they have six legitimate options to throw to.
Bobby Ratliff led the group with 747 yards last season, but Dominique Williams, Gabe Marks and Isiah Myers each surpassed 500 yards through the air last season. In all honesty, this group has the talent to be higher in the rankings, but the offensive line doesn't give its quarterbacks enough time to find the receivers.
New coach Mike MacIntyre doesn't have an abundance of talent to work with, but he should take a liking to his receiving corps this season. Led by Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce, the Buffaloes actually have the potential to beat teams through the air this season.
The pair might not challenge Marqise Lee for conference supremacy, but coupled with Tyler McCullough, the Buffaloes have three options to pass to on any given play.
Rumor has it that the Utes spring game has fans in Salt Like City excited about the possibility of an aerial attack this season, and that's a change from recent years.
With Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott coming back, the Utes have plenty of experience to draw from as well as an exciting crop of young players who hope to become difference makers early on in the season.
Shaquelle Evans headlines a rather underwhelming group of receivers for the reigning Pac-12 South Champions. Evans is a threat and he will see plenty of double teams this season, because Brett Hundley really doesn't have many other players to throw to.
The loss of tight end Joseph Fauria will hurt the Bruins, especially considering they have a converted quarterback in Darius Bell switching to the position. However, Hundley is as talented as any quarterback in the conference, so don't get sucked into think UCLA is going to become a running team anytime soon.
9. Arizona State
At long last, we've finally circled around to the Sun Devils. Kevin Ozier is the No. 1 target for quarterback Taylor Kelly in terms of receivers, but he might finish third or fourth on the team in catches because of Chris Coyle, Marion Grice, and a newcomer like Jaelen Strong.
In a dream scenario, JUCO transfer Strong becomes a starter early on, and his presence frees up Rick Smith to thrive in the slot. Even if this does happen, the Sun Devils will still rely on their running game above all else.
Do the Cardinal pass the football to anyone besides their tight ends? We'll find out that answer early on this season, as Ty Montgomery figures to be the go-to guy outside the hash marks.
Stanford sits at No. 10 and not dead last because of potential. With such a potent ground game, teams will stack eight and sometimes nine guys in the box against the Cardinal and beg them to throw the football. When that happens, expect the Cardinal to have success because Kevin Hogan can toss the rock.
Chris Harper is the top returning guy for the Golden Bears and even he remains somewhat of a mystery. He caught 41 passes for 544 yards last season, but he just doesn't get talked about like most number one receivers do.
With the loss of Keenan Allen, Bryce Treggs will have to step up after finding his way as a contributor last season. We know Sonny Dykes wants to go up-tempo, but it remains to be seen if he has the puzzle pieces to do so.
Does it pain us to put the Wildcats 12th? Of course not. It does pain us to see top receiver Austin Hill go down with an ACL injury because we wish injury and pain upon no one.
The Wildcats have David Roberts, but aside from that, expect a whole lot of Ka'Deem Carey this season. Because without a proven quarterback or proven receivers, throwing the football seems rather unappealing with an All-American in the backfield.
Previous Pac-12 Rankings