The guys who like to go deep
Rivals.com College Football Staff Writer
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Who's the next Ted Ginn Jr.?
Rivals.com's list of the top 10 deep threats includes plenty of guys intent on inheriting the former Ohio State speedster's title as the most exciting player in college football.
This list features a couple of multi-purpose players who showcase the same combination of receiving prowess and kick-return skills that helped make Ginn a top-10 NFL Draft pick.
California's DeSean Jackson
set a Pac-10 record last year by returning four punts for touchdowns. Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter
scored on three punt returns and had two of those long runbacks against BCS bowl teams - Southern California and Boise State.
Some of the receivers on our list catch passes from NFL-caliber quarterbacks who are contending for All-America honors. Others are dealing with uncertain quarterback situations.
What they all have in common is the ability to stretch defenses and make big plays - no matter who's throwing the ball.
THE BIG-PLAY RECEIVERS 1. Mario Manningham, Jr., Michigan
: Manningham established himself as the nation's top deep threat during an amazing midseason stretch before suffering a knee injury last year. Manningham caught eight touchdown passes of at least 20 yards in a four-game span before that injury. That included a 69-yard score against Notre Dame, 41-yard scores against Michigan State and Minnesota, and a 38-yard touchdown against Wisconsin. He averaged 18.5 yards per catch last year and scored nine touchdowns despite playing in only 10 games. The return of quarterback Chad Henne should allow Manningham to continue to make an impact this fall. 2. DeSean Jackson, Jr., California
: Jackson showed his big-play ability by setting a Pac-10 record with four punt returns for touchdowns last season, but he's equally dangerous on offense. Jackson averaged 18 yards per catch last year and ranked second in the conference with nine touchdown catches. Five of those catches went for at least 27 yards (a 62-yard score against Arizona, a 48-yard reception against Minnesota, a 36-yarder against Oregon and 27-yarders against Portland State and Oregon State). 3. Adarius Bowman, Sr., Oklahoma State
: How big a deep threat is Bowman? Ask Kansas. Bowman caught 13 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns - three from at least 54 yards away - in a 42-32 victory over the Jayhawks last season. Bowman was no one-game wonder. His average of 19.7 yards per catch led all players who ranked among the top 20 receivers in yards per game. Eight of his 12 touchdown catches last season went for at least 25 yards, including a 75-yarder against Houston and a 69-yard score against Florida Atlantic. 4. Marcus Monk, Sr., Arkansas
: Monk had one of the most difficult jobs of any receiver in football last year. Arkansas rarely attempted to pass the ball, and opponents knew Monk was the target whenever the Razorbacks bothered to throw downfield. That didn't stop Monk from making at least one big play per game. Monk averaged 19.2 yards per catch last year - more than the top two guys on this list. He also had big-time performances against big-time teams. Monk had 50-yard touchdown catches against Auburn and South Carolina plus a 48-yard score against Florida. 5. Limas Sweed, Sr., Texas
: Sweed knows a thing or two about going deep. Each of his 12 touchdown catches last year went for at least 14 yards. Seven of those scores covered at least 33 yards, including a 60-yard reception against North Texas, a 55-yard catch against Nebraska and a 50-yard grab against Baylor. Sweed averaged 17.4 yards per catch a year ago, though he wasn't nearly as productive in the last third of the season. 6. Mario Urrutia, Jr., Louisville
: Louisville teammate Harry Douglas actually averaged more yards per reception last season because of his knack for picking up yards after the catch, but Urrutia is the Cardinals' top deep threat. He already has caught four touchdown passes of at least 60 yards in his first two seasons at Louisville. Five of his six touchdown catches last year covered at least 25 yards, including a 56-yarder against Miami that put the Cardinals ahead for good. 7. Malcolm Kelly, Jr., Oklahoma
: Kelly is similar to Monk in that both players have emerged as the lone receiving threats on teams that don't throw the ball very much. Kelly still averaged 16 yards per catch and had 10 touchdown receptions last year, including a 66-yarder in the Big 12 championship victory over Nebraska, a 40-yarder against Texas Tech, a 35-yarder against Washington and a 31-yarder against Oregon. Oklahoma's uncertainty at quarterback could make it difficult for Kelly to repeat his 2006 performance, but this outstanding receiver proved last year he could overcome an unsettled quarterback situation. 8. Sammie Stroughter, Sr., Oregon State
: Stroughter collected just five touchdown receptions last year, but those five catches went an average length of 47 yards. He caught 80-yard touchdown passes against Washington and Hawaii. Stroughter also demonstrated his big-play ability on special teams. He scored on punt returns against Southern California, Boise State and Eastern Washington. The Beavers will rely on Stroughter more than ever this fall as they break in a new quarterback to replace Matt Moore.
HIGHLIGHT VIDEO 9. Earl Bennett, Jr., Vanderbilt
: Bennett clearly is one of the nation's top overall receivers after becoming the first player in Southeastern Conference history to catch at least 75 passes in two separate seasons. His relatively low average of 14 yards per catch keeps him from ranking higher on this list, but Bennett has proved he can catch the deep ball. He had five receptions of at least 31 yards in his final four games last season. 10. Tony Burks, Sr., Mississippi State
: Burks isn't the best-known receiver in a conference that features such All-America candidates as Bennett, Monk and Florida's Percy Harvin. But his average of 24.3 yards per catch last year ranked second among the nation's top 100 players in receiving yards per game. Each of Burks' five touchdowns last season covered at least 22 yards. He did all that despite playing for a team that started three quarterbacks last year. Wild card: Andy Brodell, Jr., Iowa
: The end of the 2006 season offered hints that Brodell is ready to make the leap to stardom. Brodell caught three touchdown passes that covered a total of 136 yards in his final two games against Minnesota and Texas. He also had a 44-yard catch against Montana last year, and averaged 18.6 yards per reception. Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He ca