Now that practice is officially over, it’s time to begin our post-spring position rankings.
We continue our series today with the wide receivers and tight ends.
1. Alabama: The quarterback position is still in flux, but regardless of who starts, they are going to have plenty of weapons to throw to. There’s star power with sophomore Calvin Ridley, arguably the SEC’s top returning receiver. And there’s plenty of depth with ArDarius Stewart, a healthy Robert Foster and Cam Sims, and the addition of graduate transfer Gehrig Dieter. Oh, and who can forget what tight end O.J. Howard did against Clemson in the title game?
2. Texas A&M: Going into last season, it was ‘how will Christian Kirk make an impact with so many other mouths to feed at Texas A&M?’ All Kirk did was lead the team and finish among the SEC leaders with 80 receptions, 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns. Not bad for a true freshman. Kirk is back this season, along with Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil and Damion Ratley. It’s safe to say the Aggies are once again loaded at wide receiver.
3. Ole Miss: Considering the Rebels lost the SEC’s top receiver from a year ago in Laquon Treadwell, this might seem a little high. But there’s still plenty of talent with Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Markell Pack and Derrick Jones. Plus, the coaches like what they’ve seen this spring from redshirt freshmen DaMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson. And what solidifies their spot is Evan Engram, one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the league.
4. Arkansas: As good as Brandon Allen was last season, his receivers never got the credit they deserved. Led by Drew Morgan, this was a group that far exceeded expectations, and the good news is that they are all back -- Morgan, Dominique Reed, Jared Cornelius and even Keon Hatcher. The only major loss was tight end Hunter Henry, but the Razorbacks have a potential star in Jeremy Sprinkle, Henry’s counterpart from a year ago.
5. LSU: Not every team can say it had three wide receivers transfer in one offseason. Two were former ESPN 300 recruits. But despite those losses, LSU has one of the SEC’s top tandems in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. Thy have combined for more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons. There’s uncertainty behind them, but with more playing time, Tyron Johnson and D.J. Chark could both be potential breakout candidates
6. Kentucky: Don’t sleep on this group. Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker each flashed next-level ability at times last season. Just go put on the tape of the Auburn game, and you will see how good Johnson could be. And after those two, there are plenty of potential weapons with wide receivers Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet and Blake Bone, as well as tight end C.J. Conrad.
7. Tennessee: Despite all the talent on last year’s roster, no player caught more than 40 passes for the Vols. And their top receiver graduated. But between Josh Malone, Josh Smith, Preston Williams and Jauan Jennings, this should still be an improved group in 2016. The key will be finding a go-to No. 1 receiver, something Tennessee hasn’t had since Justin Hunter in 2012. The unit saw a slight boost in the rankings because of tight end Ethan Wolf.
8. Georgia: With leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell gone, there’s not a ton of experience in this group. Terry Godwin, a true freshman last season, is the top returning player, and after him, nobody caught more than 12 passes in 2015. There’s upside, though, with Reggie Davis, Isaiah McKenzie and Jayson Stanley. And the strength of this unit might be at tight end, where Jeb Blazevich and early enrollee Isaac Nauta formed quite a duo this spring.
9. Mississippi State: Losing both De'Runnya Wilson (NFL draft) and Fred Brown (dismissed) was a major blow for the Bulldogs, but they do return a star in Fred Ross. Last season, Ross was second in the SEC with 88 receptions, and he led Mississippi State with 1,007 yards and five touchdowns. He will be joined by Donald Gray, Malik Dear and Gabe Myles.
10. Florida: The status of star receiver Antonio Callaway remains unknown. He was suspended this spring for violating the school’s code of conduct policy, and no date has been given for his return. If and when he returns, the Gators might jump up a spot or two. Without him, they are having to rely on Brandon Powell, Ahmad Fulwood and junior-college transfer Dre Massey to pick up the slack. Tight ends DeAndre Goolsby and Cyontai Lewis will also play a role.
11. Auburn: The bad news is Auburn finished among the bottom of the SEC in wide receiver production a year ago. More bad news, top target Ricardo Louis is gone. The good news, though, is that the Tigers signed three ESPN 300 wide receivers -- Kyle Davis, Nate Craig-Myers and Eli Stove -- in the offseason, and all three are expected to come in and compete for playing time against the likes of Marcus Davis, Jason Smith, Tony Stevens and Ryan Davis.
12. Vanderbilt: Leading receiver Trent Sherfield is back. C.J. Duncan, a potential breakout player last fall, is back and healthy again after missing the entire 2015 season because of injury. Throw in Caleb Scott, Darrius Sims and DeAndre Woods, and the Commodores have a group with upside. The only major loss from a year ago is tight end Steven Scheu.
13. Missouri: What happens when you lose all three of your top receivers from the season before? Production drops off significantly. That’s what happened to Missouri last season. On the bright side, the team’s top two receivers -- J'Mon Moore and Nate Brown -- are back this year, plus the Tigers add another potential starter in Chris Black, a graduate transfer from Alabama.
14. South Carolina: Where do we begin now that Pharoh Cooper is gone? No returning player on the roster had more than 12 receptions last season. Maybe Deebo Samuel will have that breakout season that some predicted he would have this past fall. Also, don’t be surprised if true freshman Bryan Edwards earns a starting role. He impressed the coaches during spring practice.