Since the Mike Leach era, the Air Raid has become king in Lubbock. So many great skill players coming on the offensive side of the ball from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree to other greats recently such as Patrick Mahomes and Antoine Wesley.
This is why it will be so hard to pick just five wide receivers as the best of the decade since there have been so many to come through Lubbock. The decade started out with Tommy Tuberville commanding the offense with some decent numbers but the bulk of these guys will have played under Kliff Kingsbury at some point.
With the transition to the Kingsbury era, the wide receiver became the focal point of the offense with the running back mainly serving as a backup plan. I can’t blame him with some of the great quarterbacks he’s had to play with over the years. So here they are, my All-Decade wide receivers.
5. Antoine Wesley, 2016-2019
Career Stats: 98 catches, 1547 yards, 9 touchdowns
Wesley had one great year at Texas Tech but it ended up being one of the best in school history. He was named a Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist in 2018 and should have been one of the finalists for that award as he had many more yards and touchdowns than some of the finalists.
Wesley was named as one of the best receivers in the Big 12 by the Associated Press as he was garnered with an All-Big 12 First Team award for his play in 2018 where he caught 88 passes for 1,410 yards and 9 touchdowns. This was Wesley’s real breakout year and after it, he declared for the NFL Draft where he went undrafted. He is now on the Baltimore Raven’s practice squad where he look to potentially get an opportunity one day.
4. Jace Amaro, 2011-2013
Career Stats: 138 catches, 1818 yards, 13 touchdowns
Amaro like Wesley, had one huge season for the Red Raiders. Although he was officially listed as a Tight End, he played so much like a wide receiver that I had to put him on this list. Amaro was huge, both as a human being and on the football field.
This big, bruising tight end and wide out could catch anything and his production in his one breakout season was enough for him to skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft where he was drafted in the 2nd Round in 2014 by the New York Jets.
Amaro was one of the first beneficiaries of the Kingsbury offense and that is one of the main reasons he is on this list. He couldn’t be guarded most of the time and Kingsbury really put him on mismatches most of the time. He lined up all over the field and was a all-purpose type of receiver. If you put a linebacker on him, Amaro could simply outrun him, if you put a safety on him, his strength was often too much.
3. Eric Ward, 2010-2013
Career Stats: 255 catches, 2863 yards, 31 touchdowns
Ward was the first great receiver Tech had this decade. He caught 80 passes in three of his seasons as a Red Raider. He was often though off as undersized for a wide receiver but his work ethic and speed often gave him an advantage against corner backs.
Ward caught over 10 touchdowns in both 2012 and 2013 and had a solid senior season as well. He was the most relied on receiver in his last three seasons as a Red Raider and ranks 3rd All-Time in catches and touchdowns and 6th All-Time in receiving yards in school history.
His great production for three straight seasons is what puts him on this list. He was successful in two different systems including having a great year his senior season. He will always be one of the greats in Tech history.
2. Keke Coutee, 2015-2017
Career Stats: 159 catches, 2424 yards, 17 touchdowns
Coutee was dynamic in his years at Texas Tech. He played the inside receiver position in Kingsbury’s dynamic offense with Patrick Mahomes and Nic Shimonek at quarterback. Ironically, his best and breakout season came with the latter of those guys at quarterback in Shimonek.
He had a record-breaking year in 2017 when the team went 6-7. Coutee was the shining star of that offense and was one of the few receivers in Texas Tech history that could really break a game open with his speed and route running. While the last three players I talked about could really use their bodies to get position and get the ball, Coutee did it with his elite route running and great speed.
The reason he is on this list is simple; Coutee was a bright spot in an offense that often couldn’t get it going unless they ran the offense through him. Coutee didn’t have game breaking speed and doesn’t have a huge body like Amaro or Wesley but what he did at an elite level was find ways to make guys miss in the open field and get open.
1. Jakeem Grant, 2012-2015
Career Stats: 254 catches, 3286 yards, 27 touchdowns, 33 rushes, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns, 87 kick returns, 2169 yards, 4 touchdowns
There was a ton of debate in my mind of who was going to be the No. 1 receiver in this countdown but when it came down to it, Jakeem “The Dream” Grant had to be the guy. Grant not only affected the game in so many ways but he affected it so much that teams had to focus on stopping him and only him.
Grant has blazing speed and can change direction so fast that it throws off any kind of defender. It seemed the only hope was to bracket Grant and hope to tackle him before he broke one off for a huge gain. Grant was not only a deep threat with his incredible speed but he could also take small gain and turn it into a large one with his speed and ability to make guys miss in the open field.
The speedy receiver will be looked at as one of the best to play the receiver position in Lubbock. He ranks 1st all-time in receiving yards, 4th in catches, and 5th all-time in receiving touchdowns. He is No. 1 on this list not only because of the statistics, but because he could change the game in the literal blink of an eye.