The Pac-12 is ripe with talent at the receiver position. Stacking them up in our 2023 Pac-12 WR rankings ahead of the college football season was an eye-opening exercise. Which receiver reigns supreme, and which wide receiving corps has the claim to be No. 1?
2023 Pac-12 WR Rankings
Unlike our previous rankings (QB and RB), the 2023 Pac-12 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) Rome Odunze, Washington
After a breakout performance in 2022, Rome Odunze returns with his quarterback Michael Penix Jr. for another year at Washington. This duo is poised to contend for the top QB-WR duo in all of college football in 2023.
Odunze had three games over 150 yards and put up impressive numbers against impressive defenses to boot. Odunze is a gifted route runner and has surprising speed for his size and frame. He doesn’t give defenders anything and wastes no motion on his routes.
At 6’3″ and 200-plus pounds, Odunze is a physical mismatch for any defensive back that can’t meet his stature. Add that to the fact that he can run right by defenders, and you’ve got a complete receiver.
2) Dorian Singer, USC
If there was a quieter 1,000-yard receiver last year than Dorian Singer, point me in their direction. Thriving at Arizona last year, Singer makes the move to USC, where he’ll have the nation’s top quarterback throwing him the ball in a very friendly offense.
Singer takes the mantle of Jordan Addison as the WR1 in the prolific Trojans offense and can line up in a variety of alignments for USC. He’ll win from the inside just as quickly as he can pull away from defenders on the outside.
He improved his hands from his freshman season and remains one of the shiftiest receivers after the catch in all of college football.
3) Troy Franklin, Oregon
Flashing brilliance in 2022 with the Ducks, Troy Franklin exploded onto the scene a year ago. With immaculate body control along the boundary and perhaps even better ball-tracking skills, Franklin is much more than just a massive receiver with a huge catch radius.
In fact, Franklin has an elite all-around game as a receiver and can win at every level. Franklin possesses terrific athleticism and some of the best vision before the catch as well as after. He’s a contender for one of the top receivers in the country as he battles it out in his own conference with some of the best on a daily basis.
4) Jalen McMillan, Washington
While his teammate put on dominant displays from the outside, Jalen McMillan picked apart defenses over the middle of the field. A special receiver with or without the ball in his hands, McMillan made mincemeat of defensive backs in his wake in 2022.
Returning as a pair of 1,000-yard receivers, McMillan and Odunze pair up to form one of the top returning duos in all of college football. McMillan utilizes a lightning-fast first step off the line of scrimmage to defeat his defenders but can run a full route tree and naturally separate along the way.
5) Jacob Cowing, Arizona
The top returning receiver in all of college football in terms of yards, Jacob Cowing is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. After transferring from UTEP in 2022, Cowing feasted on unwitting Pac-12 defenses with the Wildcats last season.
He’s shown to have immaculate hands and a game-changing ability. Cowing is quick and fast but plays a much bigger game than his frame would indicate. He’s not just a shifty slot receiver, in fact, he can win from anywhere on the Arizona offense and can find himself open at every level.
He’s one of the top receiving threats in all of college football, and another shining example of how stacked the Pac-12 is in terms of receivers for 2023.
6) Jeremiah Hunter, Cal
A big play waiting to happen, Jeremiah Hunter exploded for the Cal offense in 2022. In fact, Hunter was about the only explosion offensively for the Golden Bears a season ago. With a new offense in place, Hunter can rely on his innate ability to outmuscle, outplay, and outsmart defenders on the outside for another dominant season.
Hunter has a large catch radius and ridiculous length, and he uses it incredibly well. He’ll high-point the football and flash late hands to defeat defenders in close proximity all the same.
7) J.Michael Sturdivant, UCLA
After a terrific 2022 season at Cal, J.Michael Sturdivant has taken his talents south to UCLA and joined the Bruins through the transfer portal. Sturdivant, a high-profile recruit, has track speed and showcased that during flashes at Cal.
While the Golden Bears’ offense wasn’t quite as exciting, Sturdivant showcased his own set of exciting intangibles that Bruins fans ought to be enamored with by the season’s end. He can sky to the football as a dominant contested-catch guy while also presenting as a cushion-eater with his speed.
8) Travis Hunter, Colorado
Let it be known that if Travis Hunter actually played wide receiver full-time, he probably would finish the season ranked No. 1 here. Hunter is as gifted as they come as a football player, no matter his position, and his sporadic play at wide receiver at Jackson State showcased that.
Hunter can sky to the football and has arguably the best ball skills of any player in the Pac-12 this season. His hands are like glue, and he has a surprisingly strong route tree for a player who splits his reps between offense and defense.
9) Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona
At a massive 6’5″, 205 pounds, Tetairoa McMillan is as big of a mismatch in coverage as anyone else in America. McMillan uses his frame incredibly well, dwarfing smaller defensive backs with his length or simply outmuscling them along his routes.
McMillan is a technically-savvy route runner to boot and can track the football with terrific vision. After a dominant freshman season, Arizona fans have to be ecstatic that he’ll be a Wildcat for the next two seasons — at least — because he has “NFL WR” written all over him.
10) Mario Williams, USC
There is a lot to like about Mario Williams and his place on the USC roster. He’s familiar with his quarterback and the offense as he enters Year 3 with Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley.
But can he maintain his consistency over the stretch of a full season? Williams has top-tier talent as a route runner and as a true threat with the ball in his hands. Missed times and costly drops at times are certainly a bugaboo for him going forward.
If he’s tightened that up, the sky is the limit for Williams in LA.
11) Tez Johnson, Oregon
One of the biggest names to enter the Pac-12 through the transfer portal is Tez Johnson. Sure, not many Power Five football fans are aware of just how good Johnson is, as he hails from Troy, but the Oregon staff clearly did.
Johnson has a full route tree, is as quick as a hiccup, and is one of the most dangerous men in all of the country with the ball in his hands. No defender is safe when Johnson is around, as he’ll leave them gasping for air either along his routes or after the catch.
MORE: Pac-12 QB Rankings 2023
12) Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington
The third in a terrific trio at Washington, Ja’Lynn Polk quietly had a great season for the Huskies in 2022. Polk, who transferred in from Texas Tech back in 2020, flashed early in the season as one of the more reliable threats in this UW offense.
As Odunze and McMillan continued to come along strong, the targets didn’t dwindle for Polk, giving an indication of just how talented he is. Adding consistency with his hands is all that’s left for Polk as a still-ascending player.
13) Tahj Washington, USC
A highly-decorated receiver with a proven track record, Tahj Washington has played a little bit of everything for USC and Memphis over the years. His best year yet, however, was 2022, when he played the majority of his snaps as a secondary read on the inside.
Washington is as quick as you’d imagine and presents a real problem for defenses to contend with. Once Washington does haul in the reception, he’s a threat to take it the distance no matter where he is on the field.
14) Brenden Rice, USC
A highlight-reel player worthy of the name, Brenden Rice has forged his own path during his time in college. After two years of glimpses of his talent, Rice found the big stage with USC in 2022.
Rice has terrific body control along the boundary and a ridiculous set of catch-point skills. What’s surprising about the 6’3″ receiver is his ability after the catch, as he’s uniquely elusive after making every reception.
15) Elijhah Badger, Arizona State
Very quietly, Elijhah Badger ripped off an impressive season for Arizona State in 2022. He won with quickness and smarts, running savvy routes and playing backyard football very well.
Still, Badger went largely unnoticed despite multiple 100-yard games and some highlight-reel moments. At 6’2″ and nearly 200 pounds, Badger has the size advantage against most defensive backs and knows it.
16) Devaughn Vele, Utah
When you talk about elusive players after the catch, you’d be wise to bring Devaughn Vele into that conversation. Despite standing at 6’5″ and over 200 pounds, Vele has surprising moves for a big man. That is, after all, why he was returning punts for Utah a season ago.
Vele has great straight-line speed but also a shiftiness to his game. He’s a big man who plays a much smaller game than his frame would indicate. And yet, he’ll win contested catches like you’d expect him to.
17) Kyle Williams, Washington State
Kyle Williams put forth a terrific career at UNLV. With three straight seasons of at least 400 yards and multiple touchdowns, Williams had a career year in terms of scores and yards after the catch, playing in just nine games for the Rebels in 2022.
He transferred into Washington State as one of three receivers who have recorded over 1,000 yards in their careers. Williams presents the biggest mismatch of the trio entering the picture in Pullman, as he’s at his best immediately off the line of scrimmage with his fast first step and terrific short-area quickness.
18) Xavier Guillory, Arizona State
The Arizona State offense got a lot better when they grabbed Xavier Guillory from the transfer portal. Guillory, who stands at 6’2″, played three sound seasons with Idaho State, ending his career on a high note with the Tigers, hauling in 785 yards and four scores.
He has a lifetime yards-per-catch figure of over 15 yards and wins all over the field. Guillory has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself in 2023 as one of the top incoming receivers in the conference.
19) Mycah Pittman, Utah
The Utes got a big-time potential playmaker at the receiver position as Mycah Pittman proved to be unstoppable from the slot in 2022 for Florida State. The former Oregon Duck has short-area quickness that is unmatched by most defenders and uses his athleticism to spring open quickly underneath.
Pittman is a valuable addition to the Utah receiving corps due to his ability to separate quickly as he requires safety help over the middle, freeing up Vele on the outside for favorable matchups.
20) Melquan Stovall, Arizona State
The well-traveled Melquan Stovall brings his talent to Arizona State after following his previous coaching staff to Colorado State in 2022. While things didn’t go as planned due to an injury, Stovall will look to rebound on the 2021 form he showcased at Nevada, where he was one of the nation’s top slot targets.
Stovall is an elusive man after the catch and presents an issue with his speed. He knows when to use his athleticism, and middle-of-the-field defenders usually have difficulty sticking with him. Stovall has great hands and a fabulous get-off at the line of scrimmage.
If all goes to plan, Stovall is one of the top slot receivers once again, and the Sun Devils hit a home run in the portal.
21a) Josh Kelly, Washington State
So good we couldn’t even separate them, Josh Kelly and his new teammate Isaiah Hamilton rank 20a and 20b here. Making up the other portion of the 1,000-yard trio that transferred into Washington State, Kelly enters the picture after four seasons at Fresno State.
Kelly has a great size-to-speed ratio, and he understands when to throttle up to blow by defenders or when to hit the brakes and leave them skating on ice. He can win from a variety of alignments as well as at multiple levels of the field.
21b) Isaiah Hamilton, Washington State
Hamilton joins the picture in Pullman after five seasons at San Jose State. While he never quite reached the potential that he showcased during that ridiculously successful 2019 season, Hamilton still hauled in at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.
He’s a terrific interior threat and was at his best when he was targeted over the second line of the defense. The intermediate level is his area of expertise, and given the nature of the new receiving corps for Washington State, he may just be best suited there once again.
- Mavin Anderson, Cal
- Silas Bolden, Oregon State
- Kyle Ford, UCLA
- Anthony Gould, Oregon State
- Brian Hightower, Cal
- Jimmy Horn Jr., Colorado
- Kyron Hudson, USC
- Kris Hutson, Oregon
- Traeshon Holden, Oregon
- Giles Jackson, Washington
- Michael Jackson III, USC
- Montana Lemonious-Craig, Arizona
- Money Parks, Utah
- Jake Smith, Arizona State
- Leyton Smithson, Washington State
- Jordyn Tyson, Arizona State
- Lincoln Victor, Washington State