Returning to the Big Ten in 2023 is the nation’s top playmaker at the wide receiver position. As Marvin Harrison Jr. reclaims his spot as the Big Ten’s best pass catcher, how many more Ohio State players make our Big Ten WR Rankings for the 2023 season?
2023 Big Ten WR Rankings
Unlike our previous rankings (QB and RB), the 2023 Big Ten WR rankings are shedding light on individuals more 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 Big Ten WR rankings portray 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) Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
The easiest decision to make a specific receiver No. 1 in his conference, Marvin Harrison Jr. is not only WR1 in the Big Ten, but he is also the top receiver returning to college football in 2023. Quite literally, everything Harrison Jr. does is at elite levels, and he’s the first-ever Ohio State receiver to earn unanimous All-American honors.
Harrison Jr. will be a constant force opposing defenses have to account for and yet, there won’t be much those defenses can do as Harrison Jr. is the best receiver independent of quarterback talent in college football.
He’ll create natural separation with his elite route-running ability or use his ridiculous body control to make highlight-reel catches look routine. Harrison Jr. is must-watch television for what is more than likely his last season in Columbus before heading to the NFL.
2) Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
All Emeka Egbuka did in 2022 was haul in over 1,100 yards and double-digit touchdowns, pairing with Harrison Jr. to form the best WR duo in college football. Egbuka has tremendous versatility and the ability to win at every level.
He has terrific hands and elite creation capacity after the catch. With great size and an even more impactful frame, Egbuka is one of the hardest receivers to bring down in the open field in all of the Big Ten.
When it boils down to it, Egbuka would likely be the top returning receiver at any other conference in the country — he just isn’t second-best on his own team.
3) Tyrese Chambers, Maryland
Given a sound quarterback, Tyrese Chambers is one of the top receivers in the entire nation. Chambers rounded out a terrific breakout year in 2021 with some highlight-reel moments in 2022 despite poor quarterback play at FIU before ultimately landing with Maryland this season.
Chambers has size and speed, knowing how and when to utilize both to his advantage. He’ll high-point the football incredibly well down the field or catch short-area comeback routes, turning them upfield for large gains in the blink of an eye.
At his best, Chambers is a dynamic, dominant WR1. Taulia Tagovailoa has the tools to find Chambers at every level of the field as he’s a proven threat to take the ball the distance no matter his location on the field.
4) Isaiah Williams, Illinois
As shifty and elusive as they come in the open field, Isaiah Williams just needs the ball in his hands — it’s as simple as that. Williams comes fully equipped with running back-style moves in the open field and a full arsenal of routes at his disposal.
Though targeted heavily in the short area (and even behind the line of scrimmage), Williams ripped off nearly 10 yards per catch last season, most of which came after the catch.
That doesn’t mean he can’t get open downfield as he’s proven to be as shifty on his routes as he is after the catch. For Illinois, it’s just a matter of manufacturing touches for one of the sport’s most dynamic players.
5) Chris Autman-Bell, Minnesota
The career leader in total yards returning to the Big Ten, Chris Autman-Bell was limited to just three games last season. However, in those three games, CRAB hauled in over 200 yards and was close to averaging 20 yards per reception.
The Minnesota offense changes when Autman-Bell is in the lineup — for the better — and Athan Kaliakmanis has a clear-cut No. 1 in what has developed into an underrated wide receiving corps.
Autman-Bell is dynamic both at the catch point and with his crafty routes, serving as a dual threat of sorts at every level. He’ll run well after the catch and has improved his hands over the years.
6) Corey Crooms Jr., Minnesota
Transferring from Western Michigan after four seasons with the Broncos, Corey Crooms Jr. was consistently one of the top MAC receivers over the past two years. With 11 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards in his past two seasons combined, Crooms is one of the most experienced receivers returning in all of college football.
With his transfer to Minnesota, Crooms can rely on finding a home over the middle of the field — a place he thrives. Crooms can get open quickly and could develop into one of Kaliakmanis’ top targets.
7) Jeshaun Jones, Maryland
When healthy, Jeshaun Jones is certainly a top-five receiver in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, Jones has played the majority of a season just twice in his five years with Maryland.
Still, Jones enters the year off a career rebounding year, hauling in career-highs in every major receiving category except touchdowns. He is a versatile route runner who can line up anywhere and win just about everywhere. Jones is fast as he is quick and presents a massive frame for an even bigger catch radius.
Staying healthy will be his only real hindrance to becoming one of the top pass catchers in the Big Ten.
8) Cornelius Johnson, Michigan
The big man in Ann Arbor has put up sound numbers over the past three seasons for Michigan. He wins with his size on the outside and is as big of a big-play threat as there is in the conference.
Johnson does have some consistency issues, but those are all put aside when he rips off huge chunk plays for the Wolverines. Adding to his dynamics, Johnson is also a great threat after the catch due to his size, balance, and play speed.
9) Naseim Brantley, Rutgers
Get to know the name Naseim Brantley, folks. The well-traveled big man enters the Rutgers lineup after dominating every year prior. Brantley has stops at Sacred Heart and Western Illinois in his bag, proving to be too much to handle at both levels.
He had 1,261 yards in four years at Sacred Heart with eight touchdowns, while he more than doubled his touchdowns in one year at Western Illinois with nine. At 6’4 “, 200 pounds, Brantley knows how to use his size and his surprising agility for a man his size.
He’s an after-the-catch threat as well as a big-play weapon who averages over 16 yards per catch in his lifetime.
10) Billy Kemp IV, Nebraska
Making the move out west to Nebraska from Virginia, Billy Kemp IV is one of the most experienced players in all of college football. After two remarkable seasons in 2020-21, Kemp and the UVA offense cooled off under new leadership in 2022. Marred by tragedy in the end, Kemp transferred to Nebraska to revitalize his promising career.
At his best, Kemp is a dominant interior weapon for an offense. He’ll burst open with quick releases off the line of scrimmage and does a great job of maximizing every opportunity with some talented run-after-the-catch skills. He’s quick and tough to defend, using his hands and footwork all over the field.
11) Chimere Dike, Wisconsin
The sky could be the limit for Chimere Dike in the new age of Wisconsin football this fall. Dike, who broke out a season ago, returns as a productive receiver with slick routes and sticky hands.
Though the offensive philosophies are going to change in Madison (and the quarterback), odds are Dike gets even more targets than ever before. In the mold of Josh Downs at North Carolina, Dike’s usage package should see him targeted in the short area of the field and over the middle, a place he already thrives as a receiver.
12) Julian Fleming, Ohio State
Rounding out the trio in Columbus, Julian Fleming finally broke out in 2022. Fleming built consistency on top of an already elite athletic profile with his work last season. In doing so, Fleming made himself more than just a plug-in option in the place of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and, instead, into a viable WR3 in the Buckeyes’ rotation.
Fleming showcased great skills after the catch as well as an ability to separate all over the field. He’ll be welcomed back and have more favorable matchups in 2023, something that should help Ohio State’s new quarterback this fall.
13) Tre Mosley, Michigan State
For a big receiver like Tre Mosley, there is a surprising burst and athleticism to his game. He wins from inside, getting as close to the quarterback as possible, but wins all the same as an outside receiver.
Mosley is physically dominant with his size on smaller defensive backs but also fast enough to defeat linebackers or safeties tasked with covering him. He’s consistently been a top threat for the Spartans, and though we have questions at the quarterback position, his reliability should be counted on for whoever is throwing passes this season.
14) KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State
It took a bit, but KeAndre Lambert-Smith showcased his talent in 2021 for Penn State. The speedster has now recorded seven touchdowns in the last two seasons and averaged well over 15 yards per reception since that 2021 campaign.
Improving his consistency is the only thing left in Lambert-Smith’s arsenal to add, as he’s a talented player both before and after making receptions.
15) Daniel Jackson, Minnesota
A potential home-run threat whenever he touches the ball, Daniel Jackson is electric. He had a career year in 2022, seeing his usage step up after Chris Autman-Bell’s departure from the lineup. With Autman-Bell back, Jackson likely did enough to still see his fair share of targets in 2023.
He’s a dynamic route runner with speed for days. Jackson can cut on a dime and has terrific body control all over the field. If he can play more consistently against top-tier competition, he could become much more than the No. 3 in a talented receiver room.
16) Bryson Green, Wisconsin
Another big-time transfer into the conference, Bryson Green heads to Madison after two productive seasons at Oklahoma State. From Stillwater, Green hauled in career numbers a season ago, including five touchdowns and over 16 yards per catch.
He’s a large-framed receiver with a lot to like about his game on the outside. There’s a quick release he possesses at the line and soft hands at the catch point. The surprising part about those aforementioned skills is that he does so with solid speed all over the field.
Green could become a household name in Madison this season.
17) Elijah Spencer, Minnesota
After a near-1,000-yard season at Charlotte, Elijah Spencer has taken his talents north to Minnesota. Spencer is a versatile and all-around terrific receiver. He can win with speed and win with his separation ability.
Taking his talents to the Power Five level will certainly test him, but against Maryland last year, he nearly broke the 100-yard mark on just four receptions, and against South Carolina, scored a touchdown against a vaunted Gamecocks defense.
Spencer may be the real deal, and if all goes to plan, this is his absolute floor in the Big Ten WR rankings.
18) Kaden Prather, Maryland
From Morgantown across I-68 to College Park, Kaden Prather makes the transfer from West Virginia to Maryland this fall. Prather headlines a talented incoming class for the Terrapins after he showcased potential elite skills at WVU.
He’s a highlight-reel catch connoisseur and has a sound knack for finding the soft spots in all kinds of coverages. Prather can win at the catch point with his massive frame and even larger catch radius and has perhaps even better body control through the reception.
19) TJ Sheffield, Purdue
It will be an interesting turn of events for the Purdue Boilermakers as they adjust to life after Jeff Brohm as their head coach. As it stands right now, the top returning receiver is TJ Sheffield, and new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense could fit his skill set well.
MORE: Big Ten RB Rankings 2023
Sheffield played primarily outside in 2022 and struggled downfield. However, when he was targeted in the short to intermediate areas, he thrived. Finding a role for him in Harrell’s offense isn’t difficult, it’s just ensuring he can use his skills in the best way possible for his route to a higher ranking here.
20) Roman Wilson, Michigan
A valuable contributor over the past two seasons, Roman Wilson’s usage package seemed to rise when it mattered most for the Wolverines. In total, he’s hauled in over 350 yards in each of the past two seasons with seven touchdowns.
Wilson will win from the inside working out just fine, but really does a great job of manufacturing open lanes over the middle of the field. Given space to work with, Wilson is also dominant after the catch and could be a real weapon with more touches this fall.
- Skyler Bell, Wisconsin
- Zavier Betts, Nebraska
- Kaleb Brown, Iowa
- Pat Bryant, Illinois
- Cam Camper, Indiana
- Josh Fleeks, Nebraska
- Montorie Foster Jr., Michigan State
- Isaiah Garcia-Castenda, Nebraska
- Kyion Grayes, Ohio State
- A.J. Henning, Michigan
- Keontez Lewis, Wisconsin
- Malik McClain, Penn State
- Nico Ragaini, Iowa
- Noah Rogers, Ohio State
- Kaden Saunders, Penn State
- Carnell Tate, Ohio State
- Harrison Wallace III, Penn State
- Casey Washington, Illinois
- Marcus Washington, Nebraska
- E.J. Williams, Indiana