It's been said that keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer is an exercise in good judgement and sound foresight. For Duck fans in 2013, knowing thy enemy can furnish one with knowledge of what to expect on the upcoming schedule this fall. Today, DuckTerritory continues it's "Top Three Opposing Position Players" series, where we go position by position and breakdown the biggest threats to Oregon's quest to reach the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena. The series rolls on with a look at wide receiver.
With Markus Wheaton (above) gone, can Brandin Cooks rise to the occasion for Oregon State?
Ranking the top three opposing wide receivers on Oregon's 2013 schedule:
1. Brandin Cooks – Oregon State, November 29 in Eugene.
2012 season: Coming off a stellar true freshman campaign in 2011, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks established himself as one of the premier wide receivers in the Pac-12 with a sensational sophomore season in 2012. Playing alongside now current Pittsburgh Steeler Markus Wheaton, Cooks made the most of his opportunities, ranking fourth in the conference in receiving yards (1,151) to go along with five touchdowns on 61 receptions.
Why Cooks's on the list: In a league known for it's great aerial attacks, Cooks was able to standout amongst an already accomplished crowd of receiving talent in 2012. Known for his blistering speed, excellent hands, and elusiveness in space, Cooks enters the upcoming season as not only a headlining talent for the Beaver offense, but as one of the conference's top offensive weapons. How Cooks handles the additional attention he'll receive from defenses without the threat of Wheaton will be something to keep an eye on, but fans should expect nothing less than big-play performances from the Stockton (Calif.) native this season.
Did you know?: Cooks' nickname is "Sonic Boom".
2. Kasen Williams – Washington, October 12 in Seattle.
2012 season: Known as a prodigy coming out of Seattle-area powerhouse Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, Williams has carried a label of "future star" for quite some time now. After showing flashes of brilliance as a true freshman, Williams burst on to the scene in emphatic fashion as a sophomore, leading the Huskies in receptions (77) and receiving yards (878) to go along with his six receiving touchdowns.
Why Williams's on the list: Arriving on the Washington campus as a ready-made receiver in 2011, Williams has only improved as a player over the past few seasons. At 6'2", 216 lbs., Williams is a strong and exceptionally physical receiver with enough speed to be a serious downfield threat. Inconsistency at quarterback and sharing the receiving spotlight with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins perhaps hasn't produced the gaudy numbers Williams could put up in other offenses, but his impact on the game remains a constant worry for opposing defensive coordinators. Going in to his junior season, Williams could be primed for his best year yet.
Williams is one of a trio of talented offensive weapons for the Huskies next season.
Did you know?: Williams was named the Parade All-America National Player of the Year in his final year at Skyline. He's the first player from the state of Washington to ever receive the prestigious honor.
3. Shaquelle Evans – UCLA, October 26 in Eugene.
2012 season: After sitting out the 2010 season upon transferring to UCLA from Notre Dame, Evans quietly debuted for the Bruins in 2011 seeing action in 13 games with five starts. As a junior in 2012, Evans' role expanded drastically as he quickly became quarterback Brett Hundley's favorite receiver, leading the Bruins in receiving with 60 receptions for 877 yards to go along with three touchdowns.
Why Evans's on the list: He may not have the established record of success of counterparts such as Cooks and Williams, but Shaquelle Evans could be every bit as good as either of those players when the 2013 season draws to a close. Highly recruited out of high school in Inglewood (Calif.), Evans is a big-bodied receiver at 6'1", 211 lbs. who is at his best working the intermediate routes and moving the chains. With tight end Joseph Fauria gone to graduation and a talented, yet young, group of receivers serving as his understudies, Evans should once again prove to be Hundley's top target through the air next season.
Did you know?: Evans' 60 receptions for the Bruins last season ranked eighth all-time on the school's single-season list.
Three more to keep an eye on: Paul Richardson – Colorado (October 5 in Boulder), Chris Harper – California (September 28 in Eugene), Gabe Marks – Washington State (October 19 in Eugene)
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