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2009 CFN All-Americans & Top Players - WRs
Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
Posted Aug 11, 2009

CFN 2009 All-Americans and Top 25 Players - Wide Receivers

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2009 1st Team All-Americans

Dez Bryant, Jr. Oklahoma State
Who was going to replace Adarius Bowman? That was the big question mark going into last season, and then Bryant went from being a rising star to, arguably, the nation's best receiver. At 6-2 and 215 pounds he has good size, and he plays even bigger with tremendous leaping ability and good hands. He has the speed to go along with the size hitting home runs from all over the field averaging 17 yards per catch. The knock on him was his inability to come up with big games against the top teams, catching three touchdowns against Houston, Troy, and Texas A&M, and four scores against Iowa State. And then he showed up big time against Oklahoma catching six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and 13 catches for 167 yards and a score against Oregon. On the year he made 87 grabs for 1,480 yard and 19 touchdowns, and now the spotlight will be on with top five draft pick talent if he can stay healthy. Dinged up at times throughout last year, he was out this spring getting his knee worked on.

Julio Jones, Soph., Alabama
Jones came to ast year as the sure-thing, no question top recruit, only ranking nationally behind Terrelle Pryor. Now he's just playing out the string before going off to the NFL. The 6-4, 210-pounder didn't disappoint as a true freshman leading the team with 58 catches for 924 yards and four touchdowns averaging 15.9 yards per grab. He was explosive and consistent, but for all the great things he did and all the great performances, like a five-catch, 124-yard day against Florida in the SEC title game, he didn't catch a touchdown pass over the final nine games of the year. That's just an aberration. Alabama's Mr. Football of 2007 is big, physical, and has track star speed being named the Alabama Track and Field Athlete of the Year two years ago.

25 Best Receivers

1. Dez Bryant, Jr. Oklahoma State
2. Julio Jones, Soph., Alabama
3. Arrelious Benn, Jr., Illinois
4. Mardy Gilyard, Sr., Cincinnati
5. A.J. Green, Soph., Georgia
6. Golden Tate, Jr., Notre Dame
7. Eric Decker, Sr., Minnesota
8. Dezmon Briscoe, Jr. Kansas
9. Naaman Roosevelt, Sr. Buffalo
10. Dexter McCluster, Sr., Ole Miss
11. Brandon LaFell, Sr., LSU
12. Damian Williams, Jr., USC
13. Phillip Livas, Jr., Louisiana Tech
13. Ryan Wolfe, Sr. UNLV
14. Kerry Meier, Sr. Kansas
15. Antonio Brown, Jr., Central Michigan
16. Mike Williams, Jr., Syracuse
17. T.Y. Hilton, Soph. FIU
18. Demaryius Thomas, Jr., Georgia Tech
19. James Rodgers, Jr. Oregon State
20. Adarius Johnson, Soph. Miami
21. DeAndre Brown, Soph. Southern Miss
22. Bryan Anderson, Sr. Central Michigan
23. Dion Morton, Sr. Colorado State
24. Jerrel Jernigan, Jr. Troy
25. Emmanuel Sanders, Sr. SMU
2009 2nd Team

Arrelious Benn, Jr., Illinois
Illinois was able to beat out Notre Dame and Florida State for the services of Benn few years ago in one of the nation's hottest recruiting battles, and he's been worth it. The 6-2, 220-pound junior has good size, tremendous toughness, and tremendous playmaking ability averaging 15.7 yards per grab while running for 101 yards and two scores. The team's second-leading wide receiver caught 21 passes, while Benn led the team with 67 grabs for 1,055 yards and three touchdowns. Quick enough to be used on punt returns, he uses that same ability to be able to start and stop on a dime when he gets the ball in his hands as a receiver. While he has been widely accepted that he has 4.33 speed, he's likely going to be around 4.45 when he's at the Combine in Indianapolis next April. Whatever he's at, he's plenty fast on the field.

Mardy Gilyard, Sr., Cincinnati
Two of last year’s top three pass-catchers may be gone, but Cincinnati has few concerns about its receiving corps thanks to the return of the 6-1, 190-pound senior. One of the nation’s most explosive all-purpose weapons, he took his game to a new level in 2008, catching 81 balls for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns. One of the team’s fastest players, he gets to second gear in a hurry, streaking past defensive backs and bolting through seams in the defense.

Honorable Mention

Dezmon Briscoe, Jr., Kansas
Briscoe turned out to be the team’s breakthrough player of the season finishing with 92 catches for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns highlighted by a 12-catch, 269-yard, two touchdown game against Oklahoma and an Insight Bowl MVP performance with 14 catches for 201 yards and three scores against Minnesota. The 6-3, 200-pounder earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors as he grew into a deadly all-around threat. With his size, defenders bounce off of him if they don’t wrap up. With his speed, he’s able to get by most of the slower defensive backs as long as he can beat the jam. While he’s growing into a No. 1 target, he makes the most noise when defenses have to concentrate on other areas. Briscoe destroys single coverage.

Eric Decker, Sr., Minnesota
Decker has grown into a special, NFL-caliber receiver following up a team-leading 67-catch season by making 84 grabs for 1,074 yards and seven scores. He was one of the nation’s hottest receivers throughout the first half of the season with ten catches against Northern Illinois and 13 against Indiana, but everything turned on one ill-fated play. Late against Northwestern, with the score tied, Decker missed a catch, it bounced into the defender’s hands, and the Gophers lost on a pick six. Decker was never the same with an ankle injury keeping him to just three grabs over the final three regular season games. At a rock-solid 6-2 and 215 pounds with good speed and great hands, he’s the Big Ten’s premier target and he should be on everyone’s All-America short list. The big question over the next year will be whether or not he wants to be a football player or go off to play baseball; he’s a star left fielder who was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers.

A.J. Green, Soph., Georgia
When it came to freshman wide receivers, the talk of the SEC last year was Alabama's Julio Jones. But Green was better with 56 catches for 963 yards and eight scores, averaging 17.2 yards per catch (while Jones, who didn't have Matthew Stafford throwing to him, caught 58 passes for 924 yards and four scores). The 6-4, 207-pound sophomore was consistent and explosive highlighted by an eight-catch, 159-yard, one touchdown day against Arizona State. Big and fast with great hands, he has the full complement of skills and will be used even more in a variety of ways. He ran four times for 61 yards last season and will see the ball on end arounds and on running plays, to go along with his duties as the No. 1 target.

Dexter McCluster, Sr., Ole Miss
He might only be 5-8 and 165 pounds, but McCluster is strong enough to carry the offense for stretches. Not only did he tie for the team-lead in receptions, catching 44 passes for 625 yards and a touchdown, but he was the leading rusher working out of the Wild Rebel formation, netting 655 yards and six scores. Extremely quick and hard to find because of his size, he's great at darting in and out of blockers and making big things happen. Texas Tech is still looking for him, after he ran for 97 yards and a score and caught six passes for 83 yards, but he didn't have a monster, signature game. Very steady and very consistent, he needs to stay healthy, considering he had problems with a shoulder injury early in his career. As long as he's on the field, he'll be a big-time weapon who'll get the attention of every defense.

Naaman Roosevelt, Sr. Buffalo
Roosevelt was able to finally focus on being just a receiver, after working as a backup quarterback as well as a receiver (after originally being recruited as a quarterback), he had a nice 2007 and then blew up last year with a school-record 104 catches for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unstoppable over the second half of last year, he went for 100 yards or more in five straight games highlighted by a ten-grab, 116-yard, three touchdown day against Ball State for the MAC title. He was also on the receiving end of the Hail Mary to beat Temple. Just a receiver again, the 6-0, 187-pounder won't better his numbers without Drew Willy throwing the ball, but he should still be every bit as dangerous.

Golden Tate, Jr., Notre Dame
Tate was a huge recruit for Charlie Weis a few years ago, but he struggled to do much in his first year, partly due to the problems across the board for the Irish offense. And then he blew up. One of the nation's premier deep threats, the 5-11, 195-pound speedster with 4.4 wheels averaged a whopping 18.6 yards per grab with a team-leading 58 catches for 1,080 yards and ten touchdowns. A consistent producer all season long, despite being shut out by Navy and catching just two passes for 15 yards, he started to really turn it on late in the year catching seven passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse and making six grabs for 177 yards and three scores against Hawaii. He missed most of this spring because he spent a bulk of his time playing baseball, but he'll be the No. 1 target on the outside X position come fall.