College Football has had a history of some of its greatest wide receivers coming from small programs. Wide receivers in the group of five programs have the opportunity to become high-volume playmakers and go on to create great careers in the NFL. Antonio Brown was a player whose breakout performances with Central Michigan before becoming a seven-time Pro-Bowler. In the 2022 NFL Draft, several receivers from a group of five went early in the first three rounds. Two receivers from Group of Five programs went in the second round and two more went in the third round. There are three G5 wide receivers this 2022 College Football season that has the potential to become some of the biggest leaders in the sport.
Top Returning G5 Wide Receivers
3- Dante Cephas – Kent State
Several players in the MAC had big breakout seasons, but none more so than Dante Cephas. Cephas caught 15 receptions for 155 yards in five games in his first two years with the Golden Flashes. This past season, Cephas caught 82 receptions for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns. He became the first receiver for Kent State to become a 1,000-yard receiver since Eugene Baker in 1997. Cephas is a physically gifted receiver that can make great contest catches. He is also a highly distinguished route-runner as he can make be placed anywhere on offense. Cephas had seven games last season where he accounted for 100 receiving yards. His best game came in the 48-38 home over the Buffalo Bulls where he accounted for 13 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He has a chance to produce those same numbers again, but he will not have the 2021 MAC Player of the Year in quarterback Dustin Crum.
2- Zakhari Franklin – UTSA
Franklin has been turning into a dynamic weapon for the Roadrunners’ offense for three seasons. Last season was Franklin’s big breakout season as he caught 81 receptions for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. Franklin has caught 168 receptions for 2,212 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at UTSA. He has been utilized in multiple formations of the Roadrunners’ offense as a slot receiver, an outside vertical target, and a screen-catcher. Franklin has helped the Roadrunners finish with the 11th-ranked scoring offense (36.9 points per game). The Roadrunners will face a tough 2022 schedule which opens Franklin opportunities to have big performances against high-caliber defenses. One of his best games last season was in UTSA’s 37-30 win at Illinois when he caught ten receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown. He could look to do the same against Houston, at Army, and at Texas in the first three games.
1- Nathaniel Dell – Houston
Nathaniel Dell has to be one of the most electrifying playmakers in the AAC and College Football. At 5-10; 155 pounds, Dell is explosive, shifty, and highly athletic as he can quickly get to his routes, create separation or run for a big gain after the catch. Last season, Dell caught 90 receptions for 1,329 yards and 12 touchdowns. In his seasons at Houston, Dell has caught 119 receptions for 1,757 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had six games last season where he accumulated at-least 100 receiving yards. His best performance this past season was in the 44-37 at home over SMU when he caught nine receptions for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Lindy’s Sports has Dell as the 17th top returning wide receiver in the nation for the 2022 College Football season.