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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nebraska and the Elusive 1,000-yard Receiver

Occasionally when examining my collection of Nebraska statistics, I will uncover something surprising and worth a closer look. This time I noticed that Nebraska has never had a 1,000-yard receiver. Perhaps the lack of this milestone should not be surprising given the rushing-centric days of yore, but I still think it bears repeating – Nebraska has never had a 1,000-yard receiver.

If we look at the Top 10 seasons in receiving yards in Nebraska history, you’ll see that we’ve come close, but no cigar (mmm, cigar). Overall, Johnny Rodgers dominates the list with three seasons in the Top 10. After that we see four players from the Callahan era, one from the mid-1970s pro-set days, one from the Scoring Explosion, and a surprising entry from the Solich years in Wilson Thomas. Wilson Thomas had over 600 yards receiving in 2001? How do I not remember this?

Nebraska’s Top 10 Seasons in Receiving Yards

YearPlayerRec. Yds
1972Johnny Rodgers 942
1971Johnny Rodgers872
2007Maurice Purify814
1983Irving Fryar780
2007Marlon Lucky705
1970Johnny Rodgers665
2005Nate Swift641
2006Maurice Purify630
2001Wilson Thomas616
1976Chuck Malito615

Anyway, as I’m wont to do, I decided to put these numbers into perspective by looking at this statistic across an arbitrary time period. What I found, was pretty interesting (at least to a stat geek like myself).

First off, if we go back to the beginning of the BCS era (or 1998 if you prefer), we find that 23 other teams have failed to have a 1,000-yard receiver during that time period. In addition, just one of these teams, Texas A&M, hails from the Big 12. This group also includes the service academies, a couple of bottom-feeders (Duke, Syracuse, Temple, FIU), both schools from Mississippi and a few surprises (Miami, BC, VT, Penn State).

Other Teams Without a 1,000-yard Receiver During the BCS Era

1. Boston College
2. Duke
3. Maryland
4. Miami
5. North Carolina
6. Virginia Tech
7. Texas A&M
8. UConn
9. Syracuse
10. USF
11. Penn State
12. Memphis
13. SMU
14. Army
15. Navy
16. Kent State
17. Ohio
18. Temple
19. Air Force
20. UNLV
21. Mississippi State
22. Ole Miss
23. FIU

Most 1000-yard Receivers in Big 12 During BCS Era

1. Texas Tech 9
2. Kansas State 5
3. OSU 4
4. Texas 4
5. Iowa State 2
6. Missouri 2
7. Baylor 1
8. Colorado 1
9. Kansas 1
10. Oklahoma 1
11. Nebraska 0
12. Texas A&M 0

If we dig even deeper we can uncover the teams that have had the most 1,000-receivers during this time period. That list includes the usual suspects (Hawaii, Texas Tech), along with a surprise (for me) in Michigan. Would you really have guessed that Michigan had the same number of 1,000-receivers as Texas Tech since 1998?

Most 1,000-yard Receivers in BCS Era

1. Hawaii 13
2. Texas Tech 9
3. Michigan 9
4. USC 7
5. UCF 7
6. Louisville 7
7. Nevada 6
8. Many teams tied with 5

So all of this begs the question, when will Nebraska register its first 1,000-receiver and who will it be? Is this player on the roster currently, or has he yet to sign? And what if Pelini decides to move the team to a more spread-option based attack like many seem to believe he will? Will this simply become a milestone that is never reached in Lincoln?