(Taking a quick peruse around the various team message boards, it's quite interesting and humorous to find that just about every fanbase feels they have the best group of wide receivers in the conference. So I decided to do some research and come up with my own ranking of this position group from top to bottom.
There are several known commodities across the conference including players like Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Chris Olave ect. And just as Ohio State fans are excited to see our young playmakers emerge as household names, fans of other teams are expressing the same sentiment for their young guys as well. This is just my opinion and i'm sure there will be disagreements, especially from Michigan & PSU fans lol..but this is how I see it as we enter the 2020 season. I'm sure some teams will move up as their unproven guys emerge. Let's get to know some names that will breakout this year in the B1G)
Considerations: (Returning production/experience, overall depth, talent/potential)
Key Departures: TE Brycen Hopkins: NFL Draft - used heavily in passing game)
Headliner: Rondale Moore - Sophomore (2020 Pre-Season American. 2018 B1G Freshmen of the Year, 2018 1st Team All American - 17 Career Games - 143 Receptions 1645 Yards w/ 14 receiving TDs)
Budding Star: David Bell (6'2/205 Indianapolis, IN)- Sophomore (2019 B1G Freshmen of the Year, AP Freshmen All-American - Led the conference with 86 receptions at 1035 Yards for 7 TDs)
On The Rise/Next In Line - Four Star Sophmore Milton Wright (6'3/200 Louisville, KY) 2019: 288 Receiving Yards w/ 1 TD-- Amad Anderson Jr (5'11/175) 2019: 31 receptions/343 yards w/ 3 TDs
Proven Depth -- Before Rondale Moore's arrival, Purdue used Senior Jackson Anthrop in a similar H-Back/WR do it all capacity as a special teams returner, slot receiver and even in run game sweeps & reverses. In three years he has 92 receptions/817 yards & 6 receiving TDs
Notable Newcomers - True Freshmen Four Star Maliq Carr (6'5/230 Oak Park, MI), Four Star Adur-Rahaan Yaseen (6'2/195)
-- Jeff Brohm has done a great job at using his offensive scheme coupled with his recruiting chops to attract big time skill talent from across the country. Rondale Moore & David Bell were recruiting coups at the time as both could be playing at Ohio State or any other big time program right now.
I'm a little biased because I've watched David Bell all through HS into his freshmen year at Purdue..he's a special WR who reminds me of a young Michael Thomas. He's strong, physical, very tough, great route runner and is just an all around winner - his has a Terry McLaruin attitude..real tough dude.. Brohm used his Louiville connections to nab Milton Wright who had a bevy of SEC offers and he was able to grab two 2020 four stars out of Michigan in the last recruiting cycle. Needless to say Purdue's skill guys will be heard from in upcoming seasons as long as their HC is still there.
#2 Ohio State
Key Departures (KJ Hill, Ben Victor, Austin Mack)
Headliner: Junior Chris Olave (San Marcos, CA): Biletnikoff Watchlist - 2019 - 48 Receptions/840 Yards 12 TDs
Budding Star: Sophomore Garrett Wilson (Lake Travis, TX) - 2019: 30 Receptions/432 Yards for 5 TDs
On The Rise/Next In Line - Sophomore Jameson Williams (St. Louis, MO - 6-2/188 - 2019: 6 receptions/112 Yards -1 TD
Depth & Notable Newcomers - Senior Demario McCall, Senior Jaylen Harris, Redshirt Freshmen Kamryn Babb, Freshmen Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr, Jaxon Smith-Nijgba, Mookie Cooper
-- We all know how talented this group is and if they perform up to expectations they will be one of, if not the best group in the country right up there with Alabama. However, entering the season I feel Purdue gets the slight edge as tops in the conference because their top tandem is just as good as Ohio State's (for now) with a little more proven depth behind Moore & Bell
Key Departures (Donovan Hale, Nick Westbrook)
Headliner - Senior Whop Philyor (2nd Team All Big Ten 2019 - 70 Receptions 1002 for 5 TDs)
On The Rise: Senior Ty Fryfogle (2019 45 Receptions 604 yards 3 TDs)
Next In Line: Redshirt Sophomore Miles Marshall (16 receptions 196 yards 1 TD
Projected Depth/Wildcard - Donovan Hale & Nick Westbrook played a lot of football for IU and their production will be a challenge to replace. But Whop Philyor & Ty Fryfogle emerged as formidable threats in 2019 for QB Michael Penix to target. Miles Marshall is looking to build on his 2019 season as the 3rd option and they are expecting two deep contributions from a converted RB in David Ellis & Jacoby Hewett. TE Peyton Hendershot will play a prominent role in the pass game.
Also insiders within the program are raving about true freshmen WR Rashawn Williams, a 2020 Four Star recruit out of Detroit King HS who spurned the Spartans & Wolverines (link -- Why Rashawn Williams chose Indiana over Michigan & Michigan State: https://usatodayhss.com/2019/rashawn-williams-chose-indiana-over-michigan-michigan-state -- he's tabbed as IU's highest ever ranked football recruit
Key Departures (None: Iowa returns their top seven reception leaders from 2019)
Headliner: Senior Ihmir Smith-Marsette (Newark, NJ) 6-1/180 - 2019 All Purpose Star - Big time threat in special teams and as a WR - 2019: 44 receptions for 722 yards & 5 Tds
Budding Star: Senior Brandon Smith (6’2/220) Missed 5 games in 2019 - 33 catches 439 Yards 5 TDs in 8 games
Next In Line - Tyrone Tracy Jr. Sophomore (5-11/200) - 2019: 36 receptions 589 yards 3 TDS
Proven Depth - Sophmore Nico Ragaini led all WRs with 46 receptions in 2019 from his slot position
Room Outlook: In the year 2020 with limited practices, experience is key and Iowa returning their entire WR room will be vital for the new QB replacing Nate Stanley. Smith-Marsette is known nationally due to his special team exploits, but Iowa fans view Tyrone Tracy Jr. as the most versatile WR in the group with speed to burn as well. He came on strong late in 2019 scoring touchdowns vs Minnesota & Southern California. Penn State & Michigan have more talented youngsters than Iowa, but experience versus potential gets the nod in this ranking.
Key Departures (DJ Turner: Transfer Pitt)
Headliner - Junior Dontay Demus Jr. 6-3/220 - Preseason All Big Ten - 2019: 41 receptions for 625 yards & 6 TDs
On The Rise - Jeshaun Jones - Redshirt Sophomore - Returns from season ending 2nd year injury to build on true freshman season where he tallied 20 receptions for 271 yards & 5 TDs
Next In Line - Five Star Freshmen Rakim Jarrett
Deph - Maryland Coach Mike Locksley feels comfortable in going 6 deep with his WR rotation in 2020. Juniors Brian Cobbs & Daryl Jones are in the two deep with experience looking to make contributions. - Jones returns as the top outside backup WR -looking to build on his 9 reception 158 yard Soph season - Cobbs had 19 receptions for 293 yards in 2019 - This may be one of the more talented groups that nobody knows about outside of College Park, MD.
Key Departures (Ricky Smalling)
Headliner - Senior Josh Imatorbhebhe (6-2/220) Former USC Trojan first season with the Illini tallied 33 catches for 634 yards and 9 touchdowns in 11 games
On The Rise - Trevon Sidney & Brian Hightower - Sidney is another transfer from USC - caught 16 passes for 123 yeards & 1 TD in 2019
Next In Line - Casey Washington - as true freshmen caught 11 passes for 132 yards
Proven Depth - Junior Donny Navarro - as a sophomore finished with 27 receptions 345 yards and 2 TDs
Room Outlook-- Lovie Smith hit the transfer portal heavy in recent years & has brought in a multitude of skill players. Josh Matorbhebhe's brother Daniel also transfered in (from Miami)..he's slated to play TE. Their starting TE will be former Five Star prospect Luke Ford who originally committed to Georgia. Also look out for Desmond Dan -6-3 transfer from New Mexico State who caught 37 passes for 491 yards & 3 TDS in 2018 before transferring - Another impressive looking group looking to make noise in 2020
Key Departures: Tyler Johnson
Headliner - Junior Rashod Bateman 2020-Pre Season All-American (60 Receptions 1219 Yards 11 TDS
On The Rise - Junior Chris Autman-Bell (28 receptions/371 for 5 TDS
Next In Line/Room Depth - Freshmen ( Fort Lauderdale, FL - 6-0/175) Douglas Emilien - Freshmen Daniel Jackson - Minnesota is also counting on Seth Green, a 6'4/230 utility guy who they have used as a wildcat QB in 2019 (13 rushing TDS) They will also use Senior walkon Clay Geary & Mike Brown Stephens, a redshirt freshmen in the slot
Room Thoughts- Rashod Bateman is a national star who may very well be the best WR in college football. Bateman & Tyler Johnson formed one of the top tandems in the country last year. The challenge for QB Tanner Morgan & company will be to find other threats as defenses attempt to bracket Bateman in 2020. Chris Autman-Bell will be counted on big time to step up as a reliable number two threat & they have high hopes for freshmen florida speedster Douglas Emilen. But right now as we enter the season their overall depth isn't at the level as other teams in the conference. Perhaps they should be higher due to Bateman alone.
#8 Penn State
Key Departures (KJ Hamler - NFL, Justin Shorter - Transfer Portal)
Headliner - Junior Jahan Dotson (5-11/182) 3rd leading WR in 2019 w/ 27 receptions - 488 yards & 5 TDs
On The Rise - Daniel George - Redshirt Junior at 6-2/210 - 11 career receptions for 212 yards and 1 TD - Longest pass reception for TD in program history 95 yards vs Kent State
Next In Line - Cam Sullivan Brown - Like George - looking to step up as a contributor building on his career 12 receptions (105 yards)
Wildcard - Freshmen Parker Washington 5-10 Four Star prospect out of Texas named as a starter
Depth - Lots of unproven talent in State College after dealing with some attrition due to graduation & the transfer portal - A name to keep an eye is four star Keandre Lambert, Pre-season All American TE Pat Freiermuth will be a big part of the passing game as they bring along the young WRs.
Key Departures (Donovan Peoples Jones - NFL, Tarik Black - Transfer Texas, Nico Collins - Opted Out)
Headliner - Junior Ronnie Bell (2019 48 Receptions for 758 yards just 1 TD)
Budding Star/On The Rise - Giles Jackson (142 all purpose yards w/ 3 TDS)
Next In Line - Mike Sainristil (145 Yards TD vs Notre Dame)
Projected Depth - Cornelius Johnson (Big Body WR) , AJ Henning (highly touted freshmen),
Room thoughts - Similar to Penn State, UM lost some key guys who would have been sure starters on this team in Black & Collins. Addition by subtraction? Michigan fans sure hope so. I like Ronnie Bell as a player and we saw what Giles-Jackson is capable of in the 2019 Game. Yet, that's obviously not going to be enough if Michigan wants to contend in the East. If Johnson, Sainristil, Wilson and an unproven youngster step up this group will be higher in the rankings by the end of the year. But as we can see from this list...there are numerous WRs in the Big Ten who would be Michigan's top WR right now.
Key Departures (JD Spielman - Transfer TCU, Kanawai Noa - Graduation, Mike Williams, Graduation)
Headliner - Sophomore Wandale Robinson (10 games - 40 catches 452 yards 2 TDs 88 rushes 340 yards 3 TDs)
On The Rise - Kade Warner (limited in 2019 due to injury - 7 games 8 catches 101 yards - solid possession receiver named a captain for 2020)
Next In Line - Omar Manning (JUCO 6’4 225) getting rave reviews out of Lincoln
Projected Depth - Scott Frost is still trying to find a solid rotation of WRs to compete in the West. Lots of question marks for this position group. Wandale Robinson is another one of those do it all guys who is a threat from anywhere on the field. They feel like they will be able to rely on Kurt Warner's son Kade. Omar Manning is the wildcard for Nebraska..former four star recruit out of GA..he's a big body with speed. After that they have Iowa transfer Oliver Martin whose eligibility status is still up in the air. Walkon Levi Falck is slated play this year as well. From there Nebraska is hoping to get contributions from a group of unproven redshirt & true freshmen that includes Chris Hickman, Demariyon Houston, Alante Brown, Zavier Betts
Key Departure (AJ Taylor graduation, Quintez Cephus NFL, Aron Cruickshank Transfer Rutgers)
Headliner -Senior - Danny Davis III - 37 Career games with 13 starts at WR - 96 career receptions for 1,086 yards & 11 TDs
On The Rise - Senior Kendrick Pryor (Played three seasons - caught 23 receptions each in 2018 & 2019 for a total of 3 TDS
Depth - Senior Jack Dunn - Adam Krumholz
Wildcard to watch out for: Chimere Dike
Room thoughts - Another team looking to replace significant production from last year. Ohio native Danny Davis emerges as the most productive returning WR with another proven player in Senior Kendrick Pryor. Similar to West rival Nebraska..Wisconsin will need some unproven guys to compliment their usual strong running attack. News out of camp has program insiders excited about three guys to look for. AJ Abbott, Taj Mustapha & Chimere Dike
Key Departures (None at WR)
Headliner - Aron Cruickshank (Transfer from Wisconsin) Brooklyn, NY native is a big play threat likely to play slot WR for Rutgers. Had a 95 yard kick return for a TD in the Rose Bowl.
On The Rise - Senior Bo Melton - 2019: 30 receptions for 427 yards & 2 TDs
Next In Line - Senior Shameen Jones - 2019 17 receptions for 170 yards 1 TD
Depth & Projection- This could be a sneaky good position group for Greg Schiano. Aron Cruickshank headlines an impressive group of transfers opting to play in Piscataway including former Buckeyes Brendan White & Malik Barrow. Bo Melton has played a lot of Big Ten football and should form a good one-two punch along with Cruickshank. Isaiah Washington is a Sophomore from Trinity Christian in Florida (same HS as Shaun Wade & Tyreke Johnson) who is looking to build from his freshmen season of 18 receptions for 272 yards & 1 TD. Upperclassmen Shameen Jones & Paul Woods round out the two deep for the Scarlet Knights.
#13 Michigan State
Key Departures - Darrell Stewart, Cody White)
Headliner - Jayden Reed - Transfer from WMU - in 2018 he recorded 56 catches for 797 yards & 8 TDs
On The Rise - Jalen Nailor - Speedster out of Bishop Gorman HS - 2019: 9 receptions for 128 yards
Next In Line -Redshirt Sophomore Tre Mosley - His second season was cut short with a season ending injuiry - in his true frosh year he had 21 receptions for 216 yards and 1 TD in 6 games
Depth - CJ Hayes - Freshmen Ricky White - will use TE Trenton Gillison heavily in pass game.
Thoughts: Mel Tucker has an uphill battle in just about every facet of his team this season. His best WR production wise is a transfer from Western Michigan..that about says it all. Tre Mosley & Jalen Nailor will need to step up in a big way to help out their struggling quarterbacks. Early on, Tucker would be wise to not deviate much from the Tresselball like strategy established by Dantonio in years past to put his team in favorable positions to compete. There's hope yet with Jayden Reed, in 2018 he tallied four 100 plus yard receiving games for Western Michigan including a 121 yard 1 TD game against Syracuse.
Key Departure - Bennet Skowronek (Transfer: Notre Dame)
Headliner - Senior Riley Lees - team high 51 catches in 2019 for 430 yards & 2 TDs
On The Rise - Ramud Chaokhio Bowman - Senior looking to step up after becoming the 2nd leading pass catcher in 2019 with 17 receptions for 188 yards
Next In Line - Malik Washington - Undersized Sophomore Speedster out of GA has Evanston faithful excited as this year’s breakout player
Depth - Northwestern has several WRs looking to provide depth and make contributions in Senior Kyric McGowan, Juniors Jace James & JJ Jefferson. Genson Hooper Price & Bryce Kirts are redshirt freshmen who are the highest ranked wideout recruits in Northwestern History. Hooper Price is a big WR target at 6-5. They should also be bolstered by TE transfer John Raine who played for FAU alongside NFL TE Harrison Bryant in 2019 - Raine should be a reliable target for former IU QB Peyton Ramsey..he caught 38 passes for 343 yards & Six TDS at FAU last season.