Top Returning ACC Wide Receivers For 2017

    Who are the top returning wide receivers in the ACC for 2017?

    March 8, 2017

    The top returning ACC wide receivers for 2017 will look to usher along a new crop of quarterbacks to the league.

    Passing games in the ACC are likely to take a step back in 2017. Not only are the league’s top quarterbacks from 2016 headed to the NFL, but so are four of its best wide receivers, Mike Williams, Amba Etta-Tawo, Isaiah Ford and Ryan Switzer. It could be a good year to be a defensive back in the conference, provided field-stretchers like Miami’s Ahmmon Richards, Pitt’s Jester Weah and Clemson’s Deon Cain aren’t next on the schedule.

    Top Returning ACC Wide Receivers

    5. Jaylen Smith, Louisville

    Through two seasons, Smith has been what might be described as a small batch producer for the Cardinals. He caught fewer than 30 balls in each of those campaigns. However, his role is set to expand now that last year’s top three pass-catchers are gone. Plus, Smith is able to create mismatches with his 6-4, 210-pound frame, turning last year’s 27 receptions into 599 yards and six touchdowns, including the last-minute game-winner against Virginia.

    4. Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech

    Phillips is staring at an enormous opportunity—and responsibility—in 2017. The Hokies will be without three of last year’s key components to the passing game, QB Jerod Evans, WR Isaiah Ford and TE Bucky Hodges. It’ll be up to Phillips, who begins his senior year with 165 career catches, to be the adult in the passing attack room. Fortunately, he has excellent hands and will extend plays, which will assist the development of whoever replaces Evans behind center.

    3. Deon Cain, Clemson

    Cain has proven he can stretch defenses, catching 72 balls for 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first two seasons as a Tiger. But that was when he had Deshaun Watson delivering the ball and a bunch of capable receivers also running routes. Now that a new quarterback will be broken in, it’ll be up to Cain, Hunter Renfrow and Ray-Ray McCloud to keep the passing game humming. While Cain can be spectacular on deep routes, he must improve his ball skills on the routine and intermediate throws.

    2. Jester Weah, Pittsburgh

    Weah didn’t catch a single pass in his first two seasons as a Panther. And then he went from 0-60 in a flash, apropos for the former high school track star. The light went on for the big-play Weah, who parlayed 36 receptions into 870 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s set at the measurables, 6-3 and 210 pounds with explosive speed and leaping ability. If he continues to sharpen the finer points of his game, he and transfer QB Max Browne will be lethal this fall.

    1. Ahmmon Richards, Miami

    Veteran Stacy Coley was supposed to be the Canes’ long ball hitter last season. But then Richards zoomed past him, as if he was an opposing defensive back. He has legitimate track speed, which he used to catch 49 passes for 934 yards and three touchdowns as a precocious true freshman in 2016. While Richards averaged more than 19 yards per reception, it was his advanced ball skills and route running that really have the coaching staff excited about his future in Miami.

    MORE: Top Returning Wide Receivers In College Football For 2017


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