AAC WR Rankings 2023: Joshua Cephus, De’Corian Clark are the Top Duo This Fall

One of the top duos in college football, UTSA wide receivers Joshua Cephus and De'Corian Clark dominate the new-look AAC WR Rankings for 2023.

The American Athletic Conference is set to be vastly different in 2023 from the AAC versions we’ve seen over the years. And one thing is clear, the offensive prowess that the UTSA Roadrunners bring to the table are sure to make their presence known.

2023 AAC WR Rankings

Unlike our previous rankings (QB and RB), the AAC WR rankings for 2023 are shedding light on more individuals than units. While the quarterback rankings in each conference outlined the strength of a clear-cut starter, they were still based on the strength of the QB room in some situations, albeit by a small amount.

The 2023 AAC WR rankings are truly a list of the best wide receivers we project to see on the field based on what they’ve shown in their collegiate careers to date. Some players are expected to break out, but this list aims to highlight the known commodities at this stage of the offseason.

Wide receiver play comprises far more than statistics, and the more a receiver has shown over his time on the field, the higher they’ll rank here.

1) Joshua Cephus, UTSA

Joshua Cephus returns for a fifth year in San Antonio as a player who isn’t your typical receiver. He stands at 6’3″ and lines up primarily inside. Cephus uses a quick release to beat defenders off the line of scrimmage and dominates the short-to-intermediate area of the field.

Cephus has an elite ability to separate along his routes and, most notably, after the catch. He’ll run by defensive backs with speed, toast middle-of-the-field defenders with his routes, and nab anything thrown his way with safe, secure hands.

With Zakhari Franklin’s transfer, Cephus is the top dog in town and if he can line up outside with the same success that he’s shown on the inside, the sky is the limit.

MORE: Frank Harris Leads AAC QB Rankings

2) De’Corian Clark, UTSA

The second of the duo at UTSA that will certainly make AAC fans remember the Alamo is De’Corian Clark. A dominant receiver who has no trouble winning on the outside, Clark has an ability to take over games. Through his career, he’s nearly averaged 14 yards per catch, a ridiculous feat consider the talent Clark’s had in his receiving room with him.

Given Clark’s terrific size and secure hands, the Roadrunners should have no trouble deploying both he and Cephus against what looks to be overmatched secondaries in the AAC this season. With Oscar Cardenas over the middle, these pass-catchers are sure to give defenses trouble in 2023.

3) Dante Wright, Temple

Remember the name: Dante Wright. The speedster in the middle of the field is a weapon in all senses of the word as a pass catcher for Temple. Seldom used at Colorado State in 2022 after Jay Norvell brought basically the entire Nevada team with him to Fort Collins, Wright transfers in to Temple, where he’ll make for an elite pairing with E.J. Warner.

Wright can win with speed on the inside, defeating linebackers, safeties, or nickel defensive backs tasked with covering him. But what sets Wright apart from most slot receivers of his stature is the fact that he’s also a contested-catch wizard. He’ll defeat bigger defensive backs with an uncanny ability to time and attack the football in the air.

Wright is also a terrific return man and one of the most slippery receivers to track down in the open field.

4) Jha’Quan Jackson, Tulane

There are plenty of targets to fill for the Green Wave and maybe no more electric player to fill them than Jha’Quan Jackson. The speedster — who finally got that punt return touchdown last year — is set to fill the shoes and eat the targets of both Duece Watts and Shae Wyatt in 2023.

Feeding Jackson the ball is a smart choice, as he averaged over 17 yards per catch last year and over 10 yards after the catch per reception. There are few receivers in the country with the elusiveness after the catch that Jackson possesses.

5) Roderic Burns, North Texas

A tank on the inside, Roderic Burns plays a bullying type of football from the slot for North Texas. In their wide-open offense, Burns was far more than just a ‘slot receiver’ by name and rather a focal point of the offense. That was for good reason, as he also ripped off chunk play after chunk play for the Mean Green.

Burns is shifty for a bulky man of his size (5’9″, 200), and he’s shown he can handle the rock anywhere on the field during his time at North Texas. It’s his time to shine after Jyaire Shorter transferred out and he should draw many favorable matchups given North Texas’ expected run game prowess in 2023.

6) Tauskie Dove, Memphis

After four years and some spotty success at Missouri, Tauskie Dove has his eyes set on disrupting the AAC WR rankings in 2023. Dove hauled in nearly 100 receptions during his four years with the Tigers, playing a primary role in their passing game success back in 2021.

Dove is a big man with an expanding route tree. He’ll win all over the field, but Seth Henigan’s big arm will be useful with Dove’s deep-field prowess.

7) Luke McCaffrey, Rice

What a fun journey it’s been for Luke McCaffrey. After two years of playing quarterback at Nebraska and another dabbling at the position for Rice, McCaffrey found a successful home at receiver in 2022.

McCaffrey is a threat with the ball in his hands, no matter which way you slice it. The Rice offense successfully manufactured touches for McCaffrey as the season started in 2022. He showed an ascending skill set at the position and could just be sniffing his ceiling after a six-touchdown season last year.

8) Key’Shawn Smith, SMU

Key’Shawn Smith isn’t the only Miami Hurricane to look for greener pastures under head coach Rhett Lashlee at SMU this fall. In fact, he’s not the only former Miami Hurricane receiver transferring to SMU and finding themselves on this list of top AAC WRs in 2023 either.

Smith is a potential star at the position, winning downfield when it matters the most and against any type of defender. He has an alpha receiver attitude and goes toe-to-toe with any top cornerback on the opposite side.

At SMU, Smith’s ability to win outside-inside will be put on display this fall if all goes according to plan.

9) Demeer Blankumsee, Memphis

Down the field or off screens, Demeer Blankumsee is a stud. His game wasn’t predicated on contested catches at Toledo, but when the situation presented itself, it was Blankumsee who won the contested battle more often than not.

He’s a slot receiver’s slot receiver and brings with him an ability to shake defenders with a quick first step or just downright run past slower box defenders in coverage. Given Seth Henigan’s pocket prowess, Blankumsee’s ability to get open quickly should make for a favorable season in production and success alike.

10) Amad Anderson Jr., Temple

Rebounding past the potential he flashed at Purdue all those years ago, Amad Anderson Jr. finally found his footing with solid quarterback play at Temple down the stretch in 2022. Anderson hauled in multiple 100-yard games over the back half of the season and did so by winning off the line of scrimmage in the blink of an eye.

With another year in the system and some talented receivers around him, Anderson’s leadership will go a long way toward ushering in a potentially dynamic offense at Temple this fall.

11) Jordan Kerley, SMU

It doesn’t matter where Jordan Kerley gets the ball, he’s a threat to make something happen. Kerley flashed his after-the-catch ability in both of the last two seasons, but most notably in 2022 when he broke off multiple big plays with his YAC success.

Kerley is a big man with a nimble game. His athleticism is what separates him from the rest, but his versatility is also in the equation as one of the top versatile options in the conference this season.

12) Jordan Smart, North Texas

After dominating at UT Permian Basin, Jordan Smart flashed what made him a highly-recruited transfer portal option in 2021. Smart ripped off 331 yards on just 21 catches, flashing his hands and his ability to make big plays happen.

Smart has the ability to outperform linebackers or safeties in coverage, while North Texas’ offense plays to his strength when they can find a mismatch on the inside for him to exploit.

13) Romello Brinson, SMU

Joining his teammate in transferring in from Miami, Romello Brinson and Smith make up a potentially dynamic duo at receiver for the Mustangs in 2023. Brinson flashed brilliance at times for Miami, most notably with his ability to track the football and secure it no matter the accuracy or placement.

MORE: College Football Impact True Freshmen Wide Receivers

Brinson has a ways to go in terms of consistency, but, given the highlight-reel receptions he’s shown to be capable of producing, he may be a household name by midseason.

14) LaJohntay Wester, FAU

Lajohntay Wester isn’t the biggest player on the field, but it never seems to matter. Wester is one of the top interior playmakers in the conference and has been so for the past two seasons.

The FAU offense features him heavily, and Wester typically pays off those targets with a run-after-the-catch ability that is among the best in the conference.

15) Naiem Simmons, USF

An all-conference selection last year with Wagner, Naiem Simmons has some lofty expectations set for him in 2023. The Bulls will certainly look to feature his ability to win following a reception, as he’s averaged over eight yards after the catch over the past two seasons.

Simmons is quick and has terrific hands. Finding a way to get him the football will be key for USF, as he’s also a potential replacement for Brian Battie on returns.

16) Joseph Scates, Memphis

Joseph Scates has been around the college football block — that’s for sure. After three years at Iowa State, Scates found greener pastures at Memphis, fielding career-high marks in each receiving category.

A hulking receiver, Scates wins with his physicality and presence on the outside. He will dominate smaller defenders and use his plus-athleticism to make something out of nothing, no matter the situation.

17) Jake Bailey, SMU

The fourth Mustang to crack the top 20 and the sixth overall on our list, Jake Bailey had a quiet 2022 season with just four games of action after sustaining an injury last fall. Prior to that, Bailey was a terrific inside receiver who shined in 2021 with Rice.

If his production over his two fully-healthy games is any indicator (12-205-1), Bailey will be an incredibly nice complement to a potentially dangerous offensive attack in Dallas this fall.

18) Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, UTSA

A mainstay on the UTSA roster, Tykee Ogle-Kellogg enters his sixth year with the program. Ogle-Kellogg has tremendous size and has proven to be a reliable player over his career with an average of nearly 14 yards per catch.

Though he has yet to truly achieve perhaps his full potential, Ogle-Kellogg is in position to dominate from the outside in the UTSA offense in 2023. At 6’5″ and 210 pounds, Ogle-Kellogg is set to be a mismatch to AAC defenses this fall if he can stay consistent.

19) Phat Watts, Tulane

An injury limited his 2022 season to just two games but make no mistake about it, Phat Watts flashed some top-tier ability during his first two seasons at Tulane. He wins on the inside and has terrific strength at the position.

Watts has great straight-line speed and plenty of juice in his routes. If he stays healthy, the Green Wave have a star in the making as Phat can take the mantle his twin brother — Deuce Watts — formerly held in the Big Easy.

Honorable Mention

  • Je’Quan Burton, FAU
  • Roderick Daniels Jr., SMU
  • Moochie Dixon, SMU
  • Dontae Fleming, Tulane
  • Lawrence Keys III, Tulane
  • Jsi Hatfield, ECU
  • Ja’Mori Maclin, North Texas
  • Tyson Thompson, Rice
  • Damon Ward, North Texas