There’s a quiet fire in wide receivers. They trot towards the sidelines out of the huddle, set their feet and stand perfectly still, revving their engines, prepping to go 0-to-60 in milliseconds once the ball is snapped.
Wide receivers can stretch an offense’s range and give defenses fits. Speed, agility and hand-eye coordination that often seem otherworldly, there’s a reason top-tier wideouts are referred to as deep threats. And in the 2022 College Football season, there are plenty of wide receivers ready to make an impact for their team.
The season is almost here, but to hold you over until then, here is our list of wide receivers across the nation that we think you should keep your eyes on in 2022. Big things are ahead in their future!
10. Quentin Johnston, TCU
Quentin Johnson isn’t surrounded by elite playmakers at TCU, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t elite himself. Johnson only caught 33 passes in 2021, but it was what he did with those receptions that put him squarely into the first/second round draft prospect conversation. He put up 600 yards, six TDs and an 18.5 yards per catch average. Johnson looks to up his production in 2022 while TCU takes a backseat to most other schools in the Big 12. Make sure you tune in and keep an eye out for No. 1 in purple.
9. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
A.T. Perry and quarterback Sam Hartman lit up the ACC last year on their way to an Atlantic Division title and a spot in the ACC championship game. Perry was personally responsible for 71 receptions, 1,293 yards and 15 TDs, finding the endzone more times than Georgia’s Brock Bowers. The best news for Wake fans is that the duo is back again in 2022 and aiming to win the ACC championship before the NFL comes calling for both of them.
8. Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
Dontayvion Wicks was the bright spot in an otherwise mediocre season for the Virginia Cavaliers. He topped 100 yards receiving in six games, yet Virginia only won two of them. Still, Wicks did receive All-ACC honors for his 1,203 yards and nine TDs.
7. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
Cedric Tillman was electric in 2021 with 1,081 yards and 12 TDs. Scoring at least one touchdown in each of Tennessee’s last seven games, it will be interesting to see if Tillman can top last year’s numbers. But as the Vols begin their 2022 season, it’s possible Tillman can provide the spark for Tennessee to make an impact in the SEC.
6. Mario Williams, USC
You may look at Mario William’s 2021 stat line and wonder how a receiver with just 35 receptions, 380 yards and four TDs climbed to sixth on our list. Williams, a four-star recruit, entered the transfer portal after his freshman season last year and followed head Lincoln Riley to USC. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. If he is good enough for Lincoln to lure to USC, he is good enough for us, and we absolutely think you should keep an eye on Mario Williams in 2022.
5. Xavier Worthy, Texas
Xavier Worthy will step into the WR1 role in the Longhorns’ offense this year. Last year, he caught 12 touchdown passes as a freshman, setting multiple Longhorns records. With star quarterback Quinn Ewers transferred in from Ohio State, don’t be surprised if you find Xavier Worthy as one of, if not the top receiver in the country in 2022.
4. Josh Downs, North Carolina
Don’t tell Josh Downs that a 5-foot-10 180-pound receiver doesn’t make for an elite NFL prospect. He racked up 1,335 yards, eight TDs and a whopping 13.2 yards per catch last year. Based on his 2021 numbers, the UNC wideout is a first- or second-round prospect. Even though he doesn’t have Sam Howell under center this season, we don’t see any slowing down for one of the most dynamic receivers in college football.
3. Jordan Addison, USC
Jordan Addison definitely benefited from Kenny Pickett’s breakout playmaking in 2021. But, the star wideout left Steel City for USC this spring, and we think he is good enough to find similar success with Caleb Williams under center as well. Williams broke out for the Oklahoma Sooners last year by tossing 1,912 yards and 21 TDs against four interceptions in seven games. The Trojans are hoping the recent transfer wideout can find that form again, and if so, Jordan Addison will get the lion’s share of looks in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Perhaps 1,593 yards, 17 touchdowns and a 15.9 yards per catch average last year was just the beginning for Addison. After all, Addison did out-catch Alabama’s Jameson Williams, which is no small feat. Clearly, you and the NFL scouts should pay close attention. However, there already seems to be some issues between the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner and his new team, so things could change quickly for Addison as a Trojan.
2. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
Six games was all that Kayshon Boutte played in last year before an ankle injury ended his season. But six games was all it took for him to catch nine TD passes. Imagine what 12 games would do for his numbers. He is No. 2 on our list because of what he was able to accomplish in just half a season last year. Although his talent speaks volumes, his two previous ankle surgeries make his health questionable. We are hoping and betting he comes back better, faster and stronger. The 2022 season will be very telling for Boutte, but we may very well have the next Ja’Marr Chase on our hands. Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: he is someone you need to look out for in 2022.
1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba took a back seat last season to Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson in the OSU passing game. But with those two headlining the Buckeye’s 2022 NFL Draft class, Smith-Njigba becomes the premier wide receiver to watch out for in 2022. With Olave and Garret commanding most of the looks, Smith-Njigba still managed 1,606 yards, nine TDs and 16.9 yards per catch last season, including a stellar Rose Bowl performance of 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Look for opposing defenses to try and lock him down this year, as he will be the top threat in the high-powered OSU offense. Try is the operative word there. We are betting they won’t have much luck. The Buckeye star looks like a top-10 draft pick with no slowing down in sight. While Michigan may have hogged the spotlight in the Big Ten last season, Smith-Njigba and THE Ohio State Buckeyes are coming for the crown.