Recruiting class of 2016 position analysis: Wide Receivers
The race to National Signing Day has begun. Sports Illustrated and Scout.com have partnered to provide complete coverage of college football recruiting. Over the next two weeks, SI will roll out breakdowns of the top-ranked players at each position. Yesterday, we looked at quarterbacks, and today, we’re breaking down wide receivers. Follow along daily with conference-by-conference recruiting shows featuring analysis, breaking news, prospect breakdowns and much more all leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 3.
1. Nate Craig
High school: Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/208 lbs
National rank: 22
Scout.com scouting report: “This kid is a gazelle and on the field he runs like a deer. Craig won’t run the fastest forty in the country but between the lines he shows great speed and deep speed. Craig is strong and can be a physical wide receiver. He can get in and out of his breaks quickly and effortlessly. He’s smooth and deceptive. Craig's very well put together. Craig has good hands. In fact, this is one area that I have seen his game really improve this off-season.”
The latest: Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier visited Craig on Sunday, the final day before the recruiting dead period. Craig, who racked up 63 catches for 1,018 yards with 16 touchdowns this fall, backed off an early commitment to Auburn and plans to announce his decision on signing day. Florida, Florida State, Auburn, North Carolina, Ohio State and Ole Miss are all in the mix for him. His half-brother, four-star cornerback Jayvaughn Myers, decommitted from the Gators in November.
High school: Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
Height/Weight: 6’2”/172 lbs
National rank: 28
Status: committed to USC
Scout.com scouting report: “Vaughns is a tremendous two-way athlete with the ability to play multiple positions in college. He's a very talented receiver prospect but can also play corner or safety at the next level. He's a high level athlete with great hands and body control, is a smooth, polished route runner and shows a nice burst down the field. He'll routinely jump over defensive backs on fade routes and is already very good in red zone situations.”
The latest: Vaughns committed to USC in August, but Alabama is still in hot-pursuit of the receiver, sending ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi to visit Vaughns last week. He has an official visit scheduled with the Crimson Tide for January. On the positive side for the Trojans, Vaughns, who caught 79 passes for 1,230 yards with 13 touchdowns this season, expressed his support for Clay Helton getting his interim tagged removed. “This definitely solidifies my commitment,” he said.
High school: Sachse (Sachese, Tex.)
Height/Weight: 5’11”/195 lbs
National rank: 29
Status: committed to Baylor
Scout.com scouting report: “Duvernay is a wide receiver who is a valuable weapon in any offense. He plays mostly out of the slot and has the ability to take the underneath pass and turn it in to a big gain in a flash. He has the moves and the athleticism to make defenders miss, but the most special quality about his game is his burst and top-end speed. In the pads he is one of the fastest guys in the country. Additionally, he can make plays vertically down the field.”
The latest: Duvernay committed to Baylor on Nov. 20, picking the Bears over Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State. The speedster—he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash—should become the latest field-stretching threat in Art Briles’s offense. His brother, three-star athlete Donovan Duvernay, committed to Baylor in September.
High school: Navasota (Navasota, Tex.)
Height/Weight: 5’11”/171 lbs
National rank: 31
Status: committed to Baylor
Scout.com scouting report: “Dickson is a stats machine, putting up record-breaking numbers as a junior. He also stepped up on the big stage with a huge game to help his team capture a state championship. A very natural pass-catcher and route-runner. He gets open often, but also gets open down the field to make big plays. Shows good body control, hands and concentration, out-jumping or just simply out-playmaking defensive backs, who sometimes are even in double coverage.”
The latest: Dickson set a Texas high school record across all classifications with 76 career touchdown catches. He originally committed to Baylor, then decommitted and pledged to Texas before backing off that pledge and recommitting to the Bears on Nov. 10.
High school: Coconut Creek (Coconut Creek, Fla.)
Height/Weight: 6’4.5”/173 lbs
National rank: 32
Scout.com scouting report: “Tall wide receiver and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. Long arms, big hands, and he is very consistent with his hands. Big target to throw to and is only going to get better as he gets stronger. Fluid with sneaky speed down the field. A real go-to guy inside the red zone with his size and ability to out-jump defensive backs. Can catch the ball in traffic. Still raw as a route runner and can improve his burst out of breaks.”
The latest: It’s almost surely going to be either Florida or Ohio State for Victor, who enjoyed his official visit to Columbus in October. However, it’s worth noting that Victor seemed pretty excited about Miami’s hiring of former Georgia coach Mark Richt.
6. Theo Howard
High school: Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Height/Weight: 6’0”/174 lbs
National rank: 49
Status: committed to UCLA
Scout.com scouting report: “Howard may have more upside than any other WR out west. He's definitely the fastest and is one of the most explosive pass catchers in the nation. He's far from just a burner however, Howard is very polished, a natural pass catcher and smooth, precise route runner. He understands how to get open and then is very good after the catch. He has battled some injury issues the past year but if he can stay healthy, he could be a special player.”
The latest: Howard committed to UCLA on Nov. 1, picking the Bruins over USC, Texas A&M and Oregon after originally pledging to the Ducks in March. He has since signed financial aid papers with UCLA, allowing him to enroll early and begin forming a dynamic pairing with quarterback Josh Rosen.
High school: Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville, La.)
Height/Weight: 6’5”/230 lbs
National rank: 51
Scout.com scouting report: “Sullivan is going to make it tough on corners due to his size alone. He towers over many that try to cover him making him elite when it comes to jump-ball situations. Speed is solid down the field, but needs to improve quickness off the line of scrimmage and in/out of his cuts. Not great separation, but still raw in so many areas. Better than average athleticism for his position and has shown the ability to adjust to the ball well.”
The latest: Once an LSU commit, Sullivan reopened his recruitment in August and is now believed to be heavily considering TCU, where he took an official visit for the Horned Frogs’ Nov. 27 win over Baylor. Sullivan also took an official visit to Mississippi State on Nov. 14. However, the Tigers aren’t giving up on the in-state prospect and got him to take an official visit to Baton Rouge this past weekend. Sullivan plans to enroll early, so he’ll have to make a final decision soon.
High school: Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
Height/Weight: 6’2”/200 lbs
National rank: 52
Scout.com scouting report: N/A
The latest: McKinley reportedly cancelled his visit to UCLA this past weekend, effectively narrowing down his options to Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington. He already visited all three and plans to announce his commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. McKinley caught 53 passes for 1145 yards with 12 touchdowns this year, according to MaxPreps.
High school: Westfield (Houston, Tex.)
Height/Weight: 6’2.5”/189 lbs
National rank: 57
Status: committed to Houston
Scout.com scouting report: “Cleveland is a receiver who has all of the receiver skills you are looking for. He is a long and lean playmaker who has the ability to turn in big plays with his elite level speed. He is a game changer in that regard, posting a 4.38 40-yard dash at The Opening trials in Dallas. On his highlight tape it is easy to see why he is so desirable. he can turn in long runs, stretch defenses and is also a red-zone weapon with his size and physicality.”
The latest: The latest product of Tom Herman’s #HTownTakeover, Cleveland committed to Houston on Thursday despite heavy interest from Texas A&M, Arizona State, Oklahoma, TCU and Ole Miss, among others. Cleveland joins Westfield teammate Ed Oliver—the five-star defensive tackle is Herman’s biggest coup—in choosing to stay local with the Cougars. He is the third recruit in the class of 2016 rated four stars or higher by Scout.com to pledge to Houston.
10. D.K. Metcalf
High school: Oxford (Oxford, Miss.)
Height/Weight: 6’3.5”/206 lbs
National rank: 60
Status: committed to Ole Miss
Scout.com scouting report: “Metcalf is a big, physical wideout with the ability to make plays all over the field. He can be a yards after the catch wide receiver or one who streaks down the sideline to make a play on the deep ball. Really knows how to adjust to the ball. His size and strength allow him to be successful in traffic or making the touch catch across the middle. Not the fastest receiver, but can get behind the defenders deep. A big-play machine.”
The latest: Metcalf wrapped up his recruitment long ago when he elected to stay in town and commit to Ole Miss on June 8, 2013. On the field, Metcalf helped the Mississippi All-Stars beat the Alabama All-Stars for the first time in eight games with five catches for 151 yards Saturday. That came after his career at Oxford High reached a heartbreaking conclusion, when he was ruled down just short of the goal line on the final play of a 45–41 loss to Wayne County in the Class 5A state championship game.