The Big Ten isn't flush with best-in-the-country wideouts like it has been with other positions in recent years. But that doesn't mean there are some very talented pass catchers in the conference, and four of them were included on the Biletnikoff Award watch list when it was released Wednesday.
The Biletnikoff Award — handed out to college football's top receiver each season — named Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton, Rutgers' Leonte Carroo, Ohio State's Michael Thomas and Wisconsin's Alex Erickson to its watch list.
Hamilton was sensational as a freshman a season ago, quickly establishing himself as the go-to target for quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Hamilton caught more passes, 82, than any other player in the Big Ten, but Penn State's sluggish offense meant he racked up only 899 yards (fifth in the conference) and just two touchdown catches. The media made him an All-Big Ten Second Team selection.
Carroo was an All-Big Ten First Team pick of the media after lighting up the stat sheet and scoreboard last season. Carroo's 1,086 receiving yards were second in the conference, and his 10 touchdown catches ranked third. Carroo had three games with multiple touchdown catches, including three against Tulane and two in that huge comeback win over Maryland.
Thomas was big for the national-champion Buckeyes, ranking second on the team with 799 receiving yards. He was on the receiving end of Evan Spencer's trick-play touchdown toss that brought Ohio State within one point of Alabama at halftime of the Sugar Bowl, and he caught a two-point conversion pass from Cardale Jones later in that game.
Erickson was Wisconsin's leading receiver last season with 772 yards, and he caught three touchdown passes.
The award has been presented each year since 1994, but only four Big Ten players have taken it home: Penn State’s Bobby Engram in 1994, Ohio State’s Terry Glenn in 1995, Michigan State’s Charles Rogers in 2002 and Michigan’s Braylon Edwards in 2004.