The MAC presents an entertaining brand of college football every single season. In 2023, the MAC WR Rankings are indicative of a new set of faces to know, a returning force, and potentially one talented room no one saw coming.
2023 MAC WR Rankings
Unlike our previous rankings (QB and RB), the 2023 MAC WR rankings 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 a small amount.
The 2023 MAC 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. There are certainly some players who are expected to break out, but this list aims to highlight the known commodities at this stage of the offseason.
Wide receiver play is far more than statistics, and the more a receiver has shown over his time on the field, the higher they’ll rank here.
1) Odieu Hiliare, Bowling Green
A master of highlight-reel catches, Odieu Hiliare announced his presence on the big stage with Bowling Green in 2022. Hiliare hauled in 58 receptions for 747 yards and six touchdowns, but that doesn’t nearly encapsulate all he did a year ago.
The Alabama A&M transfer snagged multiple highlight-reel catches, including a ridiculous sideline reception against Marshall, a game-winner against Akron, and a historic 256-yard outing against Toledo.
Hiliare has immaculate body control and safe hands at the catch point. He’ll pull away from defenders with shifty feet on his routes or just simply snatch the ball away from them at the catch point.
When you talk about playing bigger than your stature, Hiliare has to be the top player that comes to mind. He’ll cruise past 2,000 career yards this fall and etch his name into the BGSU record books before likely making the NFL leap next April.
MORE: MAC QB Rankings, 2023
2) Trayvon Rudolph, Northern Illinois
This fall marks the return of one of this generation’s top receivers as Trayvon Rudolph is set to see action once again after missing all of 2022 with a knee injury. When healthy, there are few receivers who can do what Rudolph can with and without the ball in his hands.
When you discuss shifty receivers, you have to talk about Rudolph. If that discussion also considers the other intangibles of an elite receiver, you still have to talk about Rudolph.
A former freshman All-American, Rudolph is a wizard with the ball in his hands, and Northern Illinois sorely missed him a season ago.
3) Sam Wiglusz, Ohio
From Columbus to Athens with great success, Sam Wiglusz made his trek to southern Ohio well worth it in 2022. After four years with the Buckeyes, Wiglusz transferred to Ohio and exploded onto the scene.
With 73 receptions and 877 yards to his credit, Wiglusz was certainly quarterback Kurtis Rourke’s top target for a reason. Wiglusz always found himself open, whether it was a quick route over the middle or breaking off his route and flashing quick hands on the boundary.
He didn’t command a ton of attention to start 2022, but even when he did garner the opposing CB1, it didn’t seem to matter.
4) Jerjuan Newton, Toledo
With his breakout season behind him, the expectations are high for Jerjuan Newton in 2023. Newton set all-new career-best figures in every major receiving category in 2022, finishing with 53 receptions, 830 yards, nine touchdowns, and a second-team All-MAC finish.
He’ll line up outside and win or come across the formation with great success. Newton can catch the short-area passes and turn upfield well, but he really flashed downfield with his ball-tracking skills and speed on deep shots.
Another year of Dequan Finn to Newton, Maddox, and Co. is a scary thing for MAC defenses.
5) Tanner Knue, Eastern Michigan
Row the Knue as Tanner Knue returns to Eastern Michigan for another season with hopes of expanding on his career-best season in 2022. Knue is a shifty receiver with a surprisingly full route tree and an ability to control and contort his body at the catch point.
Despite standing just 5’11” and 177 pounds, no ball is truly out of reach for Knue, as he can climb the ladder and snatch any pass. He’ll maintain possession through the ground, absorb hits, and even bounce off would-be tacklers after the catch.
Despite his smaller stature, Knue has proven to be one of the better receivers in the MAC in terms of converting contested catches and turning something into nothing from the short area of the field.
6) Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim, Bowling Green
What a ridiculous pipeline the Bowling Green program has built down at Alabama A&M, as Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim is the next man up. As a freshman, Ibrahim finished top 10 in every major receiving category in the SWAC and was a Jerry Rice Award finalist.
He plays much larger than his 6’1″, 190-pound frame, indicated by his career average of 14.5 yards per catch. There’s wiggle in his game and stickiness to his hands. Ibrahim will stick with every pass thrown his way and somehow maximize every chance he gets.
After dominating at A&M with his former and now teammate again Odieu Hiliare, the sky is the limit for this duo, which is almost certainly the best duo in the MAC.
7) Alex Adams, Akron
There was a reason Alex Adams was recruited by and played for LSU. While it didn’t work out for the Tigers, Akron and Adams have developed something potentially very special.
After transferring in from Baton Rouge, Adams made quick work of MAC defenses, hauling in 850 yards and nine touchdowns on just 63 receptions. He wins everywhere on the field and has an effortless fluidity in his routes.
Adams will burn defensive backs with speed or simply put them in a spin cycle on his routes. He’s a deep threat and a middle-of-the-field savant. No. 7 on these MAC WR Rankings is his floor.
8) Daniel George, Akron
Another big-program transfer to Akron that paid large dividends in 2022, Daniel George made his way over from State College. If it wasn’t Adams winning on the outside, it was George dominating against smaller or slower defensive backs.
Turning heads in all the right ways, George proved too much for MAC defensive backs both after the catch or along his routes, as he flashed as a natural separator. Increasing his strength at the catch point would take his game to the next level, but with his separation abilities, that would just be icing on the cake.
9) Ahmad Edwards, Ball State
After helping Jacksonville State usher in a new era, longtime Gamecock WR Ahmad Edwards transferred to Ball State quietly this summer. During his time at JSU, Edwards hauled in over 1,100 yards over his four seasons and offers up an imposing presence on the outside this fall.
The 6’1″, 185-pounder on the outside has an impressive wingspan and, with his burst to the football, is never really out of a play. Edwards can plant his foot and get upfield in a heartbeat after the catch as well. He gave Ball State a viable WR1 the second he committed.
10) Devin Maddox, Toledo
While Jerjuan Newton feasts outside for the Rockets, Devin Maddox has made a living on the inside for Toledo over the past few years. Maddox has averaged at least 13.5 yards per catch in each of the past two seasons and hauled in at least three receiving scores in each of his four years on campus.
Maddox doesn’t have the largest frame, but he uses it to his advantage, squeezing through middle-of-the-field gaps in coverage and shimmying his way to yards after the catch. He’ll maximize every reception and can do so against any type of coverage defender.
11) Miles Marshall, Miami (OH)
After a 33-game career at Indiana, Miles Marshall transferred east to Oxford and slowly made his way to a solid season for the RedHawks. Down the stretch, Marshall showcased why he was a four-year player for the Hoosiers, making multiple receptions in all but two of his final six games, doing so by dominating smaller coverage defenders outside.
Marshall, at 6’4″, 217 pounds, brings with him a big frame with surprising play speed. He’ll go up and high-point the football well but also has terrific body control through the reception. With the majority of his reps happening in the back half of the season, the best may still be yet to come from Marshall.
MORE: MAC RB Rankings, 2023
12) Gage Larvadain, Miami (OH)
A highly-decorated receiver from SE Louisiana, Gage Larvadain enters the fray at Miami on the heels of a 59-catch, 731-yard season in 2022. In his two years with the Lions, Larvadain hauled in 1,252 yards and seven touchdowns, proving to be too much for Southland competition.
He was named the Southland Freshman of the Year in 2021 and averaged 13 yards per catch during his two years with SE Louisiana. Coming to Miami, Larvadain will likely factor inside as a short-area threat, as his terrific get-off at the line of scrimmage will be put to good use as a first-read option.
13) Kacper Rutkiewicz, Northern Illinois
Kacper Rutkiewicz is the epitome of playing bigger than you are. After averaging over 17 yards per catch in three seasons at Illinois State, Rutkiewicz transferred to Northern Illinois and repeated that feat with the Huskies.
He hauled in 23 receptions for 390 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 17 yards per catch once again. A surprisingly versatile weapon, Rutkiewicz is also terrific after the catch. There is some serious wiggle to his game after hauling in receptions, and he’ll fight forward for extra yardage on every play.
14) Jacoby Jones, Ohio
A highly-coveted JUCO transfer, Jacoby Jones had a great debut year for the Bobcats. After hauling in 45 receptions for 776 yards and six scores, it was clear why.
Jones has surprising strength in his lower body and with his hands, dominating any contested catch his way. He’ll fly high for receptions or just simply find a way to get open from route breaks.
No level of the field is safe from Jones, as he can attack defenders anywhere on the field.
15) Jalen McGaughy, Central Michigan
While the usage of his size went down with Bert Emanuel’s rise at quarterback, Jalen McGaughy still presents a viable threat at every level of the field for the Chips. McGaughy stands at 6’4″ and 225 pounds, physically dominating most defensive backs or linebackers in the MAC.
McGaughy burst onto the scene with his performance against Oklahoma State in Week 1 last season but stymied his production following that performance. If that game against OSU is any indicator of his high-level play, Emanuel has a clear-cut No. 1 to use at his disposal.
16) Hamze El-Zayat, Eastern Michigan
A standout at Fordham, Hamze El-Zayat was an All-Patriot League player after an embattled career with the Rams. El-Zayat made a living over the middle of the field for Fordham and was a consistent, reliable threat underneath.
He averaged 10 yards per catch with 40 receptions for 400 yards in 2021 — his last season of action — as he’s officially ready to go with EMU in 2023. There’s a lot to like about the former two-sport star, especially with the weapons around him.
17) Jehlani Galloway, Western Michigan
Once upon a time, Jehlani Galloway hauled in two touchdown receptions as a member of Boston College. After four seasons with the Eagles, however, Galloway found greener pastures at Western Michigan.
Transferring in a season ago, Galloway showcased why he was coveted by ACC programs back in 2018, reaching all-new career-highs in receptions and yards. He can line up just about anywhere on the field but really shines on the outside.
Galloway can use the sidelines to his advantage and isn’t afraid to break inside on his releases to test the middle of the field.
18) Boobie Curry, Buffalo
After a promising season in 2021 with Arizona, Boobie Curry transferred north to Buffalo for 2022. Though limited in action this past season, Curry’s body of work at Arizona is enough to warrant a place on our MAC WR rankings.
Curry is a big-play threat with the ability to attack vertically in the receiving game. He has great hands at the catch point and can separate along vertical routes. Staying healthy and adding to his route tree will only do him and the Bulls favors in 2023.
19) Anthony Sambucci, Western Michigan
Breaking out in a way during the 2022 season, Anthony Sambucci saw his first real action as a college athlete and rewarded the Broncos at times down the stretch of the season. Sambucci has some juice in his legs and presents a terrific catch-point threat with sure hands.
MORE: MAC RB Rankings 2023
Sambucci isn’t afraid to mix it up in the downfield blocking game as well, rounding out an ascending profile for an every-down receiver.
20) Qua Sanders, Buffalo
A potential big-time addition to the Buffalo lineup, Qua Sanders transfers in after three seasons at Jones College. There, Sanders hauled in 63 catches for 702 yards and five scores.
Sanders adds a large catch radius to the Bulls’ receiving corps, as his 6’2″ frame is only made bigger by his athletic ability and the timeliness of his leaps at the catch point.
21) Miles Cross, Ohio
Breaking out in 2022, Miles Cross showcased his talents in multiple outings a season ago. Cross hauled in multiple receptions in all but two games a year ago and put his all-around abilities together against Miami (OH) as his shining moment.
He ripped off multiple big-time receptions in that outing as a glimpse of what might be to come for the big man outside. At 6’1″ and 213 pounds, Cross moves well and has the versatility to line up on both sides of the field.
Honorable Mention MAC WRs
- Stephan Bracey Jr., Central Michigan
- Kenny Brewer III, Central Michigan
- Dom Grguric, Bowling Green
- Darrell Harding Jr., Buffalo
- Cole Harrity, Buffalo
- Christian Hilton, Ohio
- Marlyn Johnson, Buffalo
- Terry Lockett Jr., Eastern Michigan
- Austin Osborne, Bowling Green
- Tyler Watson, Ohio