One position that Al Golden undoubtedly recruited vigorously in this year’s signing class would be Wide Receiver. Angelo Louis-Jean, Malcolm Lewis, and Robert Lockhart are among a deep group that all hope to be the next big playmaker at “The U”. But who is the greatest WR to ever lace them up in Coral Gables? Based on production, explosive ability, and impact on team success I put together the following Top 5. (special thanks to all who voted on our poll to help influence this list)
Of note: My last two out were Eddie Brown, a key member of the 1984 National Championship team, and Leonard Hankerson who amassed 134 catches 2,160 yards, and 22 TDs but never played on an elite team.
#5 – Lamar Thomas. Thomas was lanky but acrobatic. Perhaps the best in the group at jumping over a defender and making an impossible catch, Thomas finished his UM career with 144 catches, 2,271 yards, and 23 TDs.
#4 – Reggie Wayne. Wayne was probably the best route runner in UM history. The future favorite target of Peyton Manning also had excellent hands and was money in the red zone. Wayne finished with a UM career best 173 catches to go along with 2,510 yards and 20 TDs.
#3 – Santana Moss. Moss electrified crowds as a returner, but was also an incredibly explosive WR. Moss is Miami’s all time leader in receiving yards with 2,546 as well as all-purpose with 4,394. He also is the greatest run after catch reciever the school has seen.
#2 – Andre Johnson. Johnson was CO-MVP of the 2001 Rose Bowl, and a beast on the field (just ask Nebraska or any current NFL CB). Miami has never had a more physical WR in its history. Johnson finished his UM career with 1,831 yards and 20 touchdowns even though he only started 2 years.
#1 - Michael Irvin. “The Playmaker” helped invent swagger. Always at his best in the biggest games, Irvin epitomized everything the 80′s ‘Canes were all about. He also finished as the all time TD receptions leader with 26 to go along with 143 catches and 2,423 yards.
As always amassing a greatest of anything NFL list proved to be much harder. Nonetheless here are my 10 greatest NFL WRs, again based of how profilic they are, ability to score, and team success.
#10 – Andre Reed. Had Buffalo won just one Super Bowl, Reed might be higher. Either way he was a consummate pro, wonderfully skilled, and one of the best players of his era. Reed finished his brilliant career with 951 catches, 13,198 yards, and 87 TDs.
#9 – Steve Largent. Largent was certainly not the biggest, or most athletic receiver on this list, but few found a way to get open better. Largent also had some of the stickiest hands of all time, and his quickness was underrated. He finished a great career with 951 catches, 13,198 yards, and 87 TDs.
#8 – Andre Johnson. I know what your thinking, UM bias. Perhaps a little bit…. But one can argue by the conclusion of his career, AJ could be even higher on this list (some more playoff experience would also help). Through his first 9 years Johnson has 706 catches, 9,656 yards, and 56 TDs. More importantly he has been the prototype of what a franchise player should be. If you don’t believe Andre is one bad dude, watch the video below:
#7 – Michael Irvin. Aside from the fact Johnson’s and Irvin’s names look nice together, I had to include “The Playmaker” because he was the unquestioned leader of the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 90′s. He truly was a clutch player and his 750 catches, 11,904 yards, and 65 TDs barely portray his toughness and skill.
#6 – Lance Alworth. It’s always hard to compare players from different eras, but based on highlights I’ve seen and testimony I’ve read, I think Alworth would have been unstoppable in any day. “Bambi” had incredible hands, explosive speed, and a swiftness that made defenders look silly. Alworth finished his career with 542 catches, 10,266 yards, and 85 TDs.
#5 – Larry Fitzgerald. Still in the prime of his career, Fitz has already caught 693 passes for 9,615 yards and 73 TDs. With just 8 seasons under his belt he has become the best combination of power, size, and sheer athleticism the NFL has ever seen.
#4 - Marvin Harrison. Yes I know having Peyton Manning throwing your way helps. But Harrison ran near perfect routes, caught everything that came his way, and was a perfect mix of explosive deep threat and reliable possession receiver. Harrison finished with 1,102 catches, 14,580 yards, and 128 TDs.
#3 – Cris Carter. Carter had incredible numbers finishing his career with 1,101 catches, 13,899 yards, and 130 TDs. But what makes Carter stand out more then the numbers is the spectacular nature of those many catches. Carter mastered working the sideline like no other receiver in history, yet at the same time could work the middle of the field and take a big hit from any DB in the league.
#2 – Randy Moss. He may have never won a title but can anyone say he didn’t impact every game he ever played in? Moss had a graceful stride when simply jogging, and 4.2 speed when he turned it on. Leaving defenders in his wake and opposing coaches breathless, Moss finished with 954 catches, 14,858 yards, and 153 TDs. He may also be the greatest leaper in NFL history. See below for my evidence:
#1 – Jerry Rice. The easiest slection of them all, Rice is a class of his own. Rice shattered NFL record books to the tune of 1,549 catches, 22,895 yards, and 197 TDs. He is also the greatest route runner, and best run after catch reciever the league has ever known. Some might even argue Rice as the greatest football player period of all time:
(Just missed the cut: Don Maynard, Terrell Owens, Isaac Bruce, Andre Reed, James Lofton, Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Raymond Berry,Wes Welker, Sterling Sharpe, & Charlie Joiner)
I hope everyone enjoys the lists, and provides lots of feedback. Keep an eye out for more lists in the not too distant future.