College News & Analysis

Top 10 returning wide receivers in college football for the 2023 season

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2022 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr.: The sophomore was the best receiver in college football this past season and is easily the top returner in 2023.

Ohio State’s Emeka Egbuka: The only returning receiver better than Egbuka is his own teammate.

Washington’s Rome Odunze: Odunze is the next best receiver in college football after the pair of Buckeyes.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins

It’s officially time to hit the reset button.

Now that we know who will continue playing on Saturdays next fall, let's take an early look at the top returning players at every position.

Here are the top 10 wide receivers returning to college football next season. Please note that NFL projection is not taken into account. 

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1. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes

He may not have won the Biletnikoff Award, but Harrison was the best receiver in college football this past season. 

Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison’s son was both the highest-graded and most valuable wide receiver in the country in 2022, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. Against single coverage, the sophomore’s 878 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns led all FBS wide receivers. 


2. Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State Buckeyes 

It remains to be seen who will take over as Ohio State’s next quarterback after C.J. Stroud, but whoever it is will be throwing to the two best receivers in the nation.

Outside of Marvin Harrison Jr., Egbuka was the most valuable Power Five wide receiver last year, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. Only Harrison tallied more receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last year than Egbuka among returning Power Five receivers. Egbuka’s 2.98 yards per route run ranked third in that same group, as well.


3. Rome Odunze, Washington Huskies

Outside of the Ohio State duo, Odunze is the most productive returning Power Five receiver.

The junior’s 605 yards against single coverage trailed only Marvin Harrison Jr. among that group. He’s also the third-most valuable returning Power Five receiver, according to PFF’s wins above average metric.


4. Xavier Worthy, Texas Longhorns

It was a relatively down year for Worthy, whose 70.1 receiving grade in 2022 was more than 10 points lower than what he posted in 2021 as a true freshman. Despite seeing 10 more targets this past season, the sophomore recorded 224 fewer receiving yards and four fewer touchdowns than his dominant 2021 year.

He became much more of a downfield receiver this past season, with his average depth of target being 17.6 yards, which ranked seventh highest in the Power Five. That dwarfs his 13.4-yard figure from 2021, which was 69th in the same group. By making him more of a downfield threat, Texas took away one of Worthy’s best attributes: his ability after the catch. As a true freshman, Worthy’s 526 yards after the catch were the 10th most in the Power Five. He fell to 41st this year with 324 yards after the catch. 

With star running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson off to the NFL, the Longhorns will need Worthy to regain his freshman form. To accomplish that, Texas should get him more involved in the short and intermediate parts of the field.


5. Malik Nabers, LSU Tigers

Entering the 2022 season, many expected Kayshon Boutte to be one of the best receivers in the country, let alone LSU’s top pass catcher. Yet, it was Nabers who took hold of the Tigers’ WR1 role and never looked back.

The sophomore was a monster after the catch this past year. His 21 forced missed tackles on receptions were the fifth most among Power Five receivers. Naber’s 204 receiving yards after contact also ranked eighth in the Power Five.


6. Jalen McMillan, Washington Huskies

When discussing the best receiver duos in college football next season, it’s highly unlikely anyone will come close to Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. If there was to be a challenger, though, it’d be Washington’s Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan.

McMillan was the ultimate chain-mover for the Huskies this year. His 54 combined receiving first downs and touchdowns trailed only Marvin Harrison Jr. among returning Power Five receivers. The junior’s 29 catches of 15-plus yards were tied for second in that same group. Between McMillan, Odunze and quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Washington should once again field one of the most explosive aerial attacks in the country next year.


7. Johnny Wilson, Florida State Seminoles

Wilson was quietly one of the most efficient receivers in college football this past season, with the Arizona State transfer’s 3.36 yards per route run leading the Power Five.

At 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Wilson is a load to bring down. The redshirt sophomore’s 205 receiving yards after contact were the seventh most in the Power Five. He also ranked 10th in the Power Five with 561 receiving yards against single coverage.


8. Dorian Singer, USC Trojans

Singer broke out in a major way for Arizona this past year. The former walk-on tallied 29 catches that went for 15-plus yards, trailing only Marvin Harrison Jr. among returning Power Five receivers. The sophomore’s 1,105 receiving yards ranked second in the Pac-12 to Rome Odunze.

Singer won’t be suiting up for the Wildcats next year, but he will be staying in the Pac-12. He’ll join USC and should be very familiar to Trojans fans, as he torched them for 141 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. Singer could be reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams’ top target next year with Jordan Addison off to the NFL. 


9. Ladd McConkey, Georgia Bulldogs

Like his former quarterback Stetson Bennett, McConkey has an incredible underdog story. Coming out of high school in 2020, he was the No. 1,143 recruit and the 188th-best wide receiver, according to On3 Sports’ consensus ratings

This year, the redshirt sophomore was the seventh-most valuable receiver in the country, according to PFF’s wins above average metric. His 42 combined receiving first downs and touchdowns trailed only Malik Nabers among SEC wide receivers. He has also added 178 rushing yards over the past two seasons, which ranks fourth for Power Five wide receivers.


10. Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Corley was simply unbelievable with the ball in his hands this past season. His 975 yards after the catch led all players by 292 yards. Corley’s 402 receiving yards after contact led that same group by 105 yards.

He also forced 40 missed tackles after the catch, which didn’t just lead all players in the country by 13 but was the second most PFF has seen in a single season since starting to chart college football in 2014.

Most single-season forced missed tackles on receptions in PFF College era (Since 2014)
Name School Season Forced Missed Tackles on Receptions
Carlos Henderson Louisiana Tech 2016 48
Malachi Corley Western Kentucky 2022 40
Rondale Moore Purdue 2018 37

Corley was the fifth-most-valuable receiver in the country this season, according to PFF’s wins above average metric.

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