Some college football programs just know how to produce NFL talent. From the notable quarterback factory at USC to Alabama’s knack for churning out star running backs, these schools have the right coaches and culture. But what about wide receivers? Which schools are the best at turning top recruits and hidden gems into valuable NFL players?
ESPN recently broke down every position and the schools that prepare their players for the NFL best. The schools see a wide variety of different coaches and traditions. Some provide a lot of top-tier talent, while others provide a plethora of mid-range players. The resulting list is as unpredictable as it is informative. These were the best schools according to their methodology.
5. LSU Tigers
ESPN went out of its way to call LSU the most surprising team on the list. This is because the Tigers have a knack for finding NFL dark horses who weren’t necessarily big names in the college world. According to ESPN, LSU has just five all-conference seasons from receivers and one All-American, Josh Reed.
However, if fans want to see what these Tigers do in the NFL, look no further than Cleveland. The Browns will have one of the most exciting receiving cores this season with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
4. Oklahoma State Sooners
The talent pool from Oklahoma State sprawls over several decades, like Tommy McDonald in the ’50s, Tinker Owens in the ’70s, and more recent players like Sterling Shepard. On top of these players, stars like James Washington, Justin Blackmon, and Dez Bryant all caught passes in Oklahoma before playing in the NFL.
3. Florida State Seminoles
Everyone from Kelvin Benjamin to Anquan Boldin got their start as Seminoles. If you look at some of the best seasons both in the NFL and college, there’s a good chance you’ll find quite a few Seminoles on the list. The list sprawls across time, too, as decades-old careers started at Florida State. These include Ron Sellers, who dominated in the 1960s, and Fred Biletnikoff, who ruled years earlier.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes have one of the most storied football programs of all time, so of course, they’re well-represented at wide receiver. Alumni include stars like Ted Ginn Jr., David Boston, and Michael Thomas. It also runs far deeper than any small list of names. Cris Carter, Santonio Holmes, and Terry Glenn also played for the storied program.
While Ohio State may have made headlines for the wrong reasons after the Urban Meyer scandal, it’s safe to say they’ll continue producing talent for many years to come.
1. USC Trojans
Perhaps the least surprising, the USC Trojans have given the NFL some of its greatest receivers. In the last 15 years, USC has produced three 3,000-yard receivers, Marqise Lee, Dwayne Jarrett, and Juju Smith-Schuster. This ties the school with Oklahoma for most on the list. The Trojans have five All-American seasons from receivers, which often bodes well for the NFL.
From NFL heroes of yesteryear like Lynn Swann to more recent stars like Smith-Schuster, USC not only shows a knack for current talent. Its history is built on its ability to churn out some of the biggest names ever.