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July 23, 2013

Ranking the Big Ten's wide receivers for 2013

Ranking the Big Ten Running Backs

The Big Ten hasn't been cranking out quality, NFL-ready receivers for some time, but that could change in 2013 as a host of prototypical wideouts look to emerge. Penn State's Allen Robinson has the measurables and already has the resume to be the league's best while Michigan's Jeremy Gallon is on the rise.

1. Allen Robinson, Jr. - Penn State
There is a lot to like about the 6-3, 211-pound prospect, starting with his physical size and skills, and this guy knows how to go up and get the ball, routinely making defensive backs look silly. Robinson is the reigning Big Ten Receiver of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection after making a Penn State single-season record 77 catches in recording just the third 1,000-yard campaign (1,013 yards) in school history. Robinson's 11 scores, meanwhile, rank second in the PSU single-season annals. A native of Michigan and a product of Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Robinson will have a good chance to break the career receptions record of 179 (he has 80) if he stays put for two more seasons.

2. Kenny Bell, Jr. - Nebraska
When you think of Nebraska, you don't think passing, and you certainly don't think receiver, but in Bell, the Cornhuskers return an All-Big Ten second-team selection. The 6-1, 185-pounder proved to be one of the top big-play threats in the conference, catching 16 balls of 20 yards or more while eight of his 11 scores covered 25 yards or greater. By comparison, Michigan's entire (returning) receiving corps combined for 19 receptions 20+ yards and two TDs of 25 yards or more. Bell would finish his sophomore season with 50 grabs for 863 yards, ranking first among league receivers with 40 catches of more with a per-reception average of 17.3 yards.

3. Jared Abbrederis, Sr. - Wisconsin
The 6-2, 188-pounder first caught our attention with a 72-yard TD catch against Indiana in his rookie year, and he then exploded onto the scene as a do-everything performer in his sophomore season, averaging 15.8 yards on 20 punt returns (with a TD), 24.8 yards on 28 kickoff returns and 17.0 yards on 55 receptions. Abbrederis came up big in the biggest games in 2011, leading UW to a win in the Big Ten Championship with 217 all-purpose yards while finishing with 346 all-purpose yards in a Rose Bowl loss to Oregon. The Wautoma, Wisc., native was back at it again in 2012, recording 49 receptions as his 124 career grabs stand just seven shy of fifth place all time, his 2,059 yards rank him sixth and his 16 TDs are three shy of third by Badger wideouts.

4. Jeremy Gallon, Sr. - Michigan
The 5-8 senior experienced two seasons within the 2012 campaign -- pre-Devin Gardner and with Devin Gardner. In eight games without Gardner, Gallon had 18 receptions for 318 yards and a score, averaging about 2.3 catches per game. In five games with Gardner under center, Gallon had 31 grabs for 511 yards and three scores, or 6.2 grabs per contest. If the QB-WR can capture that chemistry for an entire 12-game season, Gallon would be in line for a monster year (74 catches, 1,226 yards, 7 TDs). Though diminutive, Gallon plays big (ask any DB that), with 13 receptions of 20 yards or more, including nine of 30+ yards.

Others to Watch
Ohio State's Corey Brown had no problem talking trash to Michigan players last week and at least the senior could back up his mouth after catching eight passes for 95 yards and a score in last year's OSU win. Indiana will feature both Cody Lattimer and Shane Wynn this season, and with the return of QB Tre Roberson, they could put up some big numbers. Michigan State sophomore Aaron Burbridge should rank among the top four by year's end while he has a slew of teammates that, if they can fix their drop problems, have the chance to prosper. Finally, Nebraska has even more targets to throw to if Bell is covered, with  senior Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner underrated receivers.

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