Who will emerge as the Pac-12's new alpha receiver?

Seeing that 2014 was the Year of the Quarterback in the Pac-12, it's no surprise that wide receivers -- the most immediate beneficiaries of strong play under center -- registered a year of big numbers and iconic plays.

The Pac-12 boasted six 1,000-yard and three 100-catch receivers, the most of any conference in both categories. Perhaps most famously, the league laid claim to not one, not two, but three heartrending moments of pure receiver glory: The successful Hail Mary theatrics of Arizona's Austin Hill, ASU's Jaelen Strong and USC's Darreus Rogers won't soon be forgotten.

Now 2015 beckons with a blank canvas. Many of the pieces that singed box scores last year are gone. Washington State's Vince Mayle, who led the Pac-12 with 106 catches and nearly 1,500 yards, now wears a Cleveland Browns uniform. Nelson Agholor, the USC target of 104-catch fame, went in the first round. The NFL draft also claimed Strong, Stanford's Ty Montgomery, and Utah's Kaelin Clay.

But Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman isn't letting all these departures fool him into complacency.

"Offenses in this league is about the reload," he said. "And you better reload with them."

Two weeks into camp, Kaufman is consumed with stopping his own team's attack, which might now be the new headline attraction of the Pac-12 receiving world. Whereas alpha dog receiver status last season probably belonged to an individual target -- Agholor, Mayle, and Colorado's Nelson Spruce all made fine cases for that designation -- there's a strong argument to be made this year for Cal's whole unit, a remarkably balanced group highlighted by Kenny Lawler, Bryce Treggs, Stephen Anderson, and Trevor Davis.

"We have four or five guys who can go to another school, be a straight No. 1 option, and put up huge numbers," Treggs said. "But that's what makes us good. We're not selfish at all."

Stanford coach David Shaw agrees. He sees the Bears' receiving corps -- glued together by dart-throwing quarterback Jared Goff -- as the new dreaded entity in the 2015 version of the Pac-12.

"They're so dangerous, especially in a scheme that's very fitting of those guys," Shaw said.

Meanwhile, Cal coach Sonny Dykes -- the architect of that scheme -- points at the downfield blocking prowess of Oregon's receiving corps when he identifies the Pac-12's top dog.

"I think that's a very overlooked part of what makes their offense so good," Dykes said. "Their guys do a really good job of blocking and competing downfield. That's a big reason why they generate so many big plays offensively... [The Ducks] are the ones that stand out."

Of course, an individual target may still grab the league's alpha receiver designation. Not everyone has left the conference, after all. Colorado's Nelson Spruce, who tied Mayle for the Pac-12 lead with 106 catches last season, is a hungry contender entering his senior season.

“I’m also working to be quicker in and out of breaks,” Spruce said. “I want to show that I can be a little more explosive down the field.”

Meanwhile, Arizona's Cayleb Jones has been quietly readying himself for what many think will be a monster campaign. The redshirt junior, who amassed over 1,000 receiving yards while playing at 208 pounds last year, reports that he's packed on 16 pounds of muscle. Jones now boasts a 224-pound frame to go along with 6-foot-3 height. There may not be a more physically imposing Pac-12 receiver outside of Stanford's Devon Cajuste (6-4, 227 pounds).

But perhaps most importantly, Jones has now enjoyed over a year to build further rapport with quarterback Anu Solomon.

"I think I am really, really prepared," he told Scout's Jason Scheer.

Another candidate is 5-foot-9 Oregon State speedster Victor Bolden, who's said to have "limitless" potential in coordinator Dave Baldwin's new uptempo offensive system. The Beavers figure to use Bolden in a bevy of ways after his breakout 72-catch 2014.

The Mike Leach aerial machine should never be discounted in these types of discussions, either: River Cracraft brings big production back to Pullman, Gabe Marks returns after missing a year, and Dom Williams marked his arrival with an eight-catch, 164-yard spring game explosion.

When UCLA's Jordan Payton, ASU's D.J. Foster, and an electric USC bunch -- JuJu Smith and Adoree' Jackson are threats to score every time they touch the ball -- are added to the mix, it's clear that the potential for another season of Pac-12 aerial fireworks is there. The question simply centers around who'll lead the way. And along those lines, that group in Berkeley isn't shy.

"We want to prove that we're the best receiving corps in the Pac-12," Treggs said. "But we also want to prove we're the best in the country."