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Top-graded players: True freshman wide receivers with strong debuts in 2018

By Cam Mellor
Dec 18, 2018

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Dec 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the third quarter in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

While we’ve discussed the top true freshman signal-callers and their prowess throwing the ball this bowl season, we figured now is the best time to highlight those players on the receiving end of those passes and look into which true freshman receivers had the strongest seasons in 2018.

Some games are still to be played for several high-profile true freshman receivers, but nevertheless, here are the top-graded true freshman receivers after the 2018 regular season.

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1. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – 90.2

Waddle was named a first-team All-American by us at PFF and for good reason, hauling in 74.5% of his passes for 803 yards and an average of 8.6 yards after the catch per reception.

2. Rondale Moore, Purdue – 89.7

Moore was electric in 2018, gaining 822 of his 1,164 yards after the catch and forcing 34 missed tackles, numbers that led the FBS for all receivers, not just freshman.

3. Justyn Ross, Clemson – 85.8

Ross led all true freshman receivers by averaging 20.6 yards per catch, hauling in 34 receptions that included six touchdowns and 19 more first downs.

4. Jayden Reed, Western Michigan – 78.4

Reed dominated MAC play and averaged a whopping 7.3 yards after the catch per reception, gaining a true freshman, second-best 409 yards after the reception.

5. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC – 75.5

St. Brown had his struggles in 2018 along with the rest of the Trojans but the connection from fellow true freshman and high school teammate in QB J.T. Daniels was apparent. St. Brown hauled in 30 first-down receptions in addition to his three touchdowns, meaning half of his receptions moved the chains.

Other notable true freshman receivers:

KeSean Carter, Texas Tech – 74.2
Tre Turner, Virginia Tech – 72.8
Jeshaun Jones, Maryland – 70.9
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – 70.0
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss – 69.6


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