With the start of college football season just weeks away, now is as good a time as any to unveil our preseason position rankings.
Here is how we ranked the receivers/tight ends:
1. Clemson Tigers: Perhaps the best and deepest receiver group in the country, the Tigers should be even better this season with Mike Williams rejoining Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow and Jordan Leggett to form one pretty terrific starting receiver/tight end group. Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud have drawn positive reviews from coach Dabo Swinney so far during fall camp, too. This is an easy choice for No. 1.
2. Florida State Seminoles: There is no question the Seminoles have talent here, with Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield returning, along with the potential emergence of big, physical Auden Tate. Tight end Ryan Izzo is also back, giving Florida State a solid group that stands toe-to-toe with just about anybody. The key now is for more consistency from the group as a whole.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels: The Tar Heels, like Clemson and Florida State, also return their best pass-catchers from a year ago. Any incoming starting quarterback would love to have Mack Hollins, Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard as a starting trio of receivers. North Carolina isn’t shy about using its tight end, either. Brandon Fritts returns after catching four touchdown passes last season.
4. Louisville Cardinals: Though they aren’t household names (yet), every single Louisville receiver with significant playing time returns, led by Jamari Staples, James Quick and Jaylen Smith. Ja'Quay Savage could have a big season; Reggie Bonnafon is now at receiver. Then there’s the talent and depth at tight end, starting with Cole Hikutini (19 catches, 348 yards, three TDs).
5. Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies return the only 1,000-yard receiver in the ACC last season (Isaiah Ford), plus one of the best tight ends in the league (Bucky Hodges). No. 2 receiver Cam Phillips (49 catches, 582 yards, two TDs) is solid, too. But this is a group that needs to develop depth behind those three, especially in Justin Fuente's new up-tempo offensive scheme.
6. Miami Hurricanes: There is talent in this group, but there are questions, too. Can Stacy Coley live up to the potential he showed his freshman year? Can Braxton Berrios stay healthy and prove to be a go-to option? Can Malcolm Lewis return to form? Is freshman Sam Bruce ready to be a contributor? How about junior college transfer Dayall Harris? The tight ends strengthen this group: David Njoku, Chris Herndon and Standish Dobard are a quality trio.
7. NC State Wolfpack: NC State has dealt with shortcomings at receiver the past few years, and enters this season without Jumichael Ramos (knee), its second-leading receiver in 2015. Redshirt freshman Brian Sessoms also is out. But Jaylen Samuels and Nyheim Hines are special players, headlining a group that needs more out of Bra'Lon Cherry, Maurice Trowell and Stephen Louis.
8. Syracuse Orange: There is a tremendous amount of upside with this group considering the talent, experience, and move to a more up-tempo offense. Steve Ishmael, Brisley Estime and Ervin Philips are back after leading the way a year ago, and Maryland transfer Amba Etta-Tawo has put together a nice fall camp so far. Tight end Josh Parris also is back.
9. Duke Blue Devils: T.J. Rahming and Anthony Nash had productive seasons a year ago, but Max McCaffrey and Johnell Barnes are gone. So are tight ends Braxton Deaver and David Reeves, leaving the Blue Devils in search of depth and more consistency out of its tight ends and receivers. Freshman receiver Scott Bracey, expected to contribute, has been slowed by a hamstring injury during fall practice.
10. Pittsburgh Panthers: This is the position group on offense with the most questions, considering the strength at running back and on the offensive line. The dynamic Tyler Boyd is gone, but coach Pat Narduzzi believes he has talented players in Dontez Ford, Jester Weah, Zach Challingsworth and Quadree Henderson to help fill the void. Scott Orndoff started seven games at tight end last season.
11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Cam Serigne is one of the best tight ends in the ACC, and Cortez Lewis (47 catches, 611 yards, 4 TDs) has the potential to have an even bigger season at receiver. Tabari Hines and Chuck Wade are also back after solid freshmen seasons, and Alex Bachman, Scotty Washington and Steven Claude are expected to contribute heavily -- especially with Jared Crump sidelined indefinitely.
12. Virginia Cavaliers: Olamide Zaccheaus and Andre Levrone have been sidelined during camp, and so has Doni Dowling -- not exactly the best news for a Hoos receiving group that must replace top two receivers Canaan Severin and T.J. Thorpe. The opportunity is there for senior Keeon Johnson to have the best season of his career.
13. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Production dropped off dramatically a season ago in all areas of the Georgia Tech offense, especially at receiver. Coach Paul Johnson expects returning starters Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart to contribute much more. Freshman Jalen Camp has done well during fall camp, but it’s too early to tell whether he will play.
14. Boston College Eagles: The Eagles had the worst passing offense in the ACC last season, and leading receiver Thadd Smith had just 17 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Smith is back, and so are Charlie Callinan and Elijah Robinson. Coach Steve Addazio hopes improvement (and health) at quarterback helps this group, along with the addition of converted quarterback Jeff Smith.