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July 11, 2013

Is Oklahoma State really Wide Receiver U?

With Josh Stewart's emergence as the next go-to receiver for Oklahoma State, a lot of chatter has been going around about a new tag for the Cowboys.

Some used to call it Tailback U after a number of great running backs came out of Stillwater, including Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, and Terry Miller.

Those days are long gone, and not just in Stillwater, but around the nation. Offenses have gone away from their run-first attack and gone to pass-happy, spread approaches.

With that shift in the trend came big-time receivers in the conference, and the school in Stillwater has arguably had the most success in the department in the last couple of years, which has offhandedly become known as "Wide Receiver U" to Cowboy fans.

But how true is that term for Oklahoma State? Are they really the best school in the conference when it comes to pumping out receivers with piles of receiving yards by the time bowl season rolls around?

Let's investigate. First, we'll look at the overall yards per game since 2008, which was when the spread had really taken hold of almost every school in the Big 12.

There have been ten receivers average over 100 yards per game since then, and they're listed below.

Yards Per Game since 2008
Terrance Williams, Baylor, 2012: 140.9 ypg
Danario Alexander, Missouri, 2009: 137.0 ypg
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State, 2010: 128.5 ypg
Kendall Wright, Baylor, 2011: 127.9 ypg
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia, 2012: 124.8 ypg
Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas, 2009: 121.5 ypg
Justin Blackmon, 2011: 117.1 ypg
Ryan Broyles, OU, 2010: 115.9 ypg
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, 2008: 113.8 ypg
Jordan Shipley, Texas, 2009: 106.1 ypg

Three of them come from Oklahoma State, with Stewart narrowly missing being the fourth Cowboy on it after averaging 93.1 yards per game last season.

Blackmon's two Biletnikoff Award years were major for Oklahoma State, as well as Bryant's explosion of a year in 2008. Had the current Dallas Cowboy been eligible for the entire 2009 season, he likely would've added 100+ yards per game again, but there's no way of telling that now.

So the Pokes have three on the list of ten, with Baylor being the next-closest school at two receivers, though they occupy two of the top four spots.

But that's not all a receiver is measured by. It's tough to measure yards after catch and yards after contact for 130+ schools, stats which usually separate good receivers from the great ones, but one stat is extremely easy to keep.

Touchdowns by the receivers on that same list.

Touchdowns since 2008
Bailey, 2012: 25
Blackmon, 2010: 20
Bryant, 2008: 19
Blackmon, 2011: 18
Alexander, 2009: 14
Wright, 2012: 14
Broyles, 2010: 14
Shipley, 2009: 13
Williams, 2012: 12
Briscoe, 2009: 9

The list looks a lot more promising here, with the three huge receiver seasons at Oklahoma State showing up again, this time at the top of the list.

Only Stedman Bailey's huge 2012 beat out both seasons by Blackmon and Bryant's last full season at OSU, and Bailey had a second-round pick in the NFL Draft throwing to him that season.

The argument and nickname will likely carry on, as OSU hopes to latch on to Stewart (who had 7 touchdowns in 2012, for what it's worth) as the next big thing to come out of Oklahoma State after three huge seasons since 2008 and two first-round picks in the NFL Draft, but when you examine the facts, one thing is for sure; Oklahoma State is regularly producing top-level college receivers.

They might not quite be at the level of "Wide Receiver U" just yet, but at this rate, the Pokes will be there very, very soon.


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