Ranking the top 10 pass-catchers in college football for 2024


The 2024 NFL draft features a tremendous collection of talented receivers, including Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze, not to mention Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, all of whom could be top-10 picks.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be anyone left to catch the ball in the college game. Our list of the top 10 receivers in college football for the coming season, as determined by a poll of our reporters, includes five players who broke the 1,000-yard threshold in 2023, plus two players who missed significant time due to injury and one who had as big an impact at cornerback as he did as a receiver.

We asked our resident experts to rank their top 10 wide receivers/tight ends entering the 2024 season. Points were assigned based on their votes: 10 points for first place, nine for second place and down to one point for 10th place.

Here are the results.

Previous top 10 lists: Running backs | Quarterbacks

2023 stats: 86 receptions, 1,212 yards, 14.1-yard average, 9 TDs

Points: 92 (five first-place votes)

Burden was a lump of clay in 2022 as a dynamic athlete and a terrifying figure with the ball in his hands. The blue-chip freshman scored rushing, receiving and punt return touchdowns, but wasn’t where he needed to be as an actual receiver. He averaged just 8.3 yards per catch and finished his first year at Missouri with 375 receiving yards.

The light bulb came on for Burden in 2023. He moved to the slot and topped 375 yards by the second quarter of his fourth game. He gained 114 yards or more in five straight games, threw himself into blocking and dirty work late in the year when running back Cody Schrader began to catch fire and still finished the season ranked ninth nationally in receiving yards. He dropped only two passes all season and finished in the top five in the nation in yards after catch (711, third), forced missed tackles (30, fourth) and yards after first contact (300, fifth). He caught a desperate fourth-and-17 pass to set up a game-winning field goal against Florida and the game-clinching touchdown pass in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State. Schrader received some Heisman votes for his late-season work, but Missouri doesn’t go 11-2 in 2023 without Burden. And now he enters his junior season as maybe the most proven receiver in the country. His potato chips are pretty good too. — Bill Connelly


2023 stats: 90 receptions, 1,402 yards, 15.6-yard average, 10 TDs

Points: 78 (three first-place votes)

After an impressive freshman year in 2022, where he caught 39 passes for 702 yards, McMillan broke out as a sophomore, hauling in 90 passes for 1,402 yards with 10 touchdowns as Arizona won 10 games for just the second time in more than two decades. No returning power conference receiver had more receiving yards than he did last year, catching passes from both Noah Fifita and Jayden de Laura.

The offseason saw a major change in Tucson with head coach Jedd Fisch departing for Washington, which led to some initial speculation that McMillan might move with him to the Big Ten. However, both McMillan and Fifita announced they would stay at Arizona to play for new head coach Brent Brennan, who arrived from San Jose State. It will be hard for McMillan to top his statistical output from a year ago, but the Wildcats will no longer have Jacob Cowing — who caught 90 passes as a senior — which could make them more dependent on McMillan. — Kyle Bonagura


2023 stats: 41 receptions, 515 yards, 12.6-yard average, 4 TDs

Points: 59

Top-three national wide receivers typically don’t have a ton to prove, but Egbuka is looking to deliver more for an Ohio State offense with the highest of expectations. After a breakout season in 2022 — he had 1,151 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 74 receptions, while adding two rushing touchdowns and 75 yards on punt returns — the Steilacoom, Washington, native seemed poised to make the leap to the NFL in 2024. But last season didn’t go as planned, as Egbuka was slowed by a midseason ankle sprain that sidelined him for three games. He finished with only 41 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns, never reaching the 100-yard mark and eclipsing 40 yards just once in Big Ten play.

Marvin Harrison Jr.’s departure puts Egbuka in the spotlight as Ohio State’s No. 1 receiver and a Biletnikoff Award candidate. He had displayed top-end speed and route-running and averaged 15.7 yards per reception in 2022 while contributing to the return game his first two seasons. Egbuka will be instrumental in easing the transition for Kansas State transfer Will Howard and leading a receiver group once again pegged to be among the nation’s best. — Adam Rittenberg


2023 stats: 86 receptions, 1,182 yards, 13.7-yard average, 10 TDs

Points: 41 (one first-place vote)

Johnson racked up 86 catches for 1,182 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing as Oregon’s No. 2 receiving target last season. Those are hardly No. 2 numbers as only five other receivers in the country — including his 2023 teammate Troy Franklin — posted an 80-1,100-10 line. The only two players from that group returning for 2024 are Johnson and Arizona’s McMillan.

Johnson was a wizard both before and after the catch. He hauled in more than half his contested catches, averaged more than 3 yards per catch after first contact (with 17 missed tackles) and racked up 727 yards after the catch, most among all Power Five receivers last year. Meanwhile, he was as reliable an option as there was in college football, hauling in 78.9% of his targets, third-most among all FBS receivers with at least 100 targets and tops in the Power 5. — David Hale


2023 stats: 54 receptions, 985 yards, 18.2-yard average, 8 TDs

Points: 30

One of the many transfers Ole Miss has cashed in on in recent seasons, Harris returns as one of the top pass-catchers in the country. He started his career at Louisiana Tech and had a breakout season there in 2022 with 10 touchdown catches. He missed one game at Ole Miss last season with an injury but still finished with 54 catches for 985 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and has the athleticism and size to win most one-on-one matchups.

The Rebels will be deep at receiver with slot Jordan Watkins and tight end Caden Prieskorn returning and South Carolina transfer Antwane “Juice” Wells coming in, which will make it difficult for opponents to double-team Harris. Not only will Harris be a target for Jaxson Dart in key third-down situations, but he is one of the more dangerous big-play receivers in college football. He averaged 18.2 yards per catch last season, and his 21 catches of 20 yards or longer rank third nationally among returning FBS players. — Chris Low


2023 stats: 85 receptions, 1,092 yards, 12.8-yard average, 6 TDs

Points: 28

Restrepo had three relatively quiet seasons at Miami before 2023, when he turned in one of the best years by a receiver in school history. The South Florida native set a school record with 85 catches, becoming just the sixth Hurricanes receiver ever to break the 1,000-yard mark in a season (1,092). A first-team All-ACC selection, Restrepo was at his best in a loss to Louisville, when he caught eight passes for 193 yards with a touchdown late in the year.

He had a strong connection with quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, but will now be catching passes from former Washington State QB Cam Ward, who briefly announced he would enter the NFL draft before reversing course and transferring to Miami. — Bonagura


2023 stats (at South Alabama): 91 receptions, 1,316 yards, 14.5-yard average, 7 TDs

Points: 27

Find you a slot receiver who can do it all. At South Alabama in 2023, Lacy was first in the nation in receiving yards from screens, shallow and hook routes (606 from 60 catches), first in yards after catch and first in yards after first contact. He was also an A+ deep threat, ranking 18th in receiving yards on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield and averaging 14.5 yards per reception on the season despite all the short routes. He was the No.1 in the Jaguars’ passing attack — he was targeted on 30% of his routes and accounted for 38% of his team’s receiving yards — and still, no one could stop him. He topped 100 yards in eight of his 12 games.

For each of four seasons, Lacy showed massive development, leaping from 11 catches in 2020 to 41 in 2021, 64 in 2022 and 91 in 2023. He was one of the nation’s best return men in 2022 as well. And now he takes the logical next step in his career: seeing what he can do at a Power 5 school. He will serve as the most proven pass-catcher in a drastically remodeled Louisville receiving corps as Jeff Brohm attempts to make his second ACC championship game appearance in two seasons. — Connelly


2023 stats: 45 receptions, 649 yards, 14.4-yard average, 4 TDs

Points: 23

Michigan has lost a lot of star power from its national championship offense, but Loveland, along with running back Donovan Edwards, will enter the spotlight in 2024. Loveland emerged as an elite-level tight end during his first two seasons in college and should be one of the top prospects at his position in the 2025 NFL draft. Michigan doesn’t have many recruits from Idaho, but Loveland made the long journey from Gooding, in the southern portion of the state, and arrived as a three-star recruit in 2022. He broke out late in his freshman season, starting five games, recording 16 receptions for 235 yards, while excelling on special teams.

Loveland took on a bigger role last fall in Michigan’s passing game, finishing third on the team in receptions (45) and second in both receiving yards (649) and receiving touchdowns (4). He had multiple receptions in each of the Wolverines’ final nine games, including three for 64 yards in the national championship win over Washington. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Loveland earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was named Michigan’s offensive player of the week five times. As the Wolverines reload at quarterback and wide receiver, Loveland will have even more responsibility on his very capable shoulders this fall. — Rittenberg


2023 stats: 57 receptions, 721 yards, 12.6-yard average, 5 TDs

Points: 21 (one first-place vote)

Hunter’s place here is sort of like if Michael Jordan had ranked as one of the White Sox’s top prospects in 1994. He really has no business being this good at what is, essentially, his part-time gig. While Hunter excelled as one of the elite cover corners in college football last year, his impact on offense was nearly as significant, catching 57 balls for 721 yards and five touchdowns in nine games. To put that in perspective, the last time a Colorado receiver hit all three of those marks was Laviska Shenault back in 2018 — and Hunter did it while also playing defense and missing three games.

How Hunter’s role evolves in 2024 is one of the more intriguing questions of this offseason, and whether he’s up to the rigors of playing both ways over the course of a full season for a second year in a row is anyone’s guess. But what’s unquestioned is Hunter’s rare talent, which makes him dangerous anywhere on the field — and perhaps at receiver most of all. — Hale


2023 stats (at Alabama): 48 receptions, 668 yards, 13.9-yard average, 4 touchdowns

Points: 19

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is hoping Bond can do what Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell did for the Longhorns’ offense in 2023. Bond had 48 catches for 668 yards with four touchdowns at Alabama last season. Most famously, he hauled in the winning touchdown on fourth-and-31 with 32 seconds left in a 27-24 victory at Auburn, which put the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game.

A former Georgia high school sprint champion in the 100 and 200 meters, Bond has blazing speed and should develop into a reliable deep threat for the Longhorns. — Mark Schlabach

Also receiving votes: Brant Kuithe, Utah (17); Kevin Concepcion, NC State (16); Ricky White, UNLV (14); Juice Wells, Ole Miss (12); Zachariah Branch, USC (11); Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State (11); Tory Horton, Colorado State (10); Evan Stewart, Oregon (10); Elic Ayomanor, Stanford (8), Deion Burks, Oklahoma (6); Kris Mitchell, Notre Dame (6); Oscar Delp, Georgia (5); Moose Muhammad, Texas A&M (5); Benjamin Yurosek, Georgia (1)

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