WVU fans have been extraordinarily blessed over the last twenty years when it comes to talented receivers.
Each receiver ranked in the top ten of the three major receiving categories (receptions, yards and touchdowns) suited up for the Mountaineers in the last two decades, besides three (Rich Hollins, Cedric Thomas and Reggie Rembert).
While many will cite the change of offenses as the reason for this, it is also fair to point out that five WVU receivers have been drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft since 1996, compared to one leading up to 1996. Regardless, WVU has been blessed with talent at the receiving position and I would like to take a look at the best receivers in Mountaineer history.
5. Shawn Foreman
Career stats: 169 receptions, 2,347 yards & 16 Touchdowns
Foreman was a rare talent for the Mountaineers, possessing the ability to play on both sides of the football.
During his first two seasons, Foreman was used as utility man playing safety and receiver for WVU.
Foreman’s sophomore season is whenever he began to show his ability on both sides of the ball, recording over 400 receiving yards while also being the teams back-up strong safety.
However, it was Foreman’s Junior campaign that saw him perform his best, setting a WVU school-record with 77 receptions (the record has since been broken).
The 77 receptions led the Big East, and placed Foreman on the All-Big East First-Team, his first of two selections.
His 928 yards during his Junior season then stood as the third best total in school history.
As a Senior, Foreman recorded 948 yards on 63 catches and earned his second consecutive First-Team selection.
Foreman’s career statistics place him in the program’s top five of all-time leaders of receptions and yards.
4. Kevin White
Career stats: 144 receptions, 1,954 receiving yards & 15 touchdowns
It can be argued that Kevin White is the most talented pass-catcher on this list, and there is nothing I could say against that argument.
However, for these rankings I want to emphasize their success as a Mountaineer.
Kevin White was the highest drafted receiver in Mountaineer history, and his 2014 season was arguably the greatest season ever by a Mountaineer receiver.
As a JUCO recruit, White’s time in the Blue & Gold was limited. He only had one true season as the number one option, and during that season he produced incredible results (109 receptions, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns).
This season included a school record 16 receptions against Texas, and a 216 yard performance against Maryland that is 3rd in WVU history (1st by a player not named Stedman Bailey, who will be discussed later on).
White’s explosiveness and size made him a force to be reckoned with, and it was difficult to find someone who could stop him.
If White had more time as a Mountaineer, it is hard to predict the numbers he could have produced.
However, his 2014 season will go down in the history books as one of the best seasons WVU fans have seen.
3. David Saunders
Career Stats: 191 receptions, 2,608 yards & 18 touchdowns
Saunders had one of the most prolific careers of any receiver in WVU history.
As a redshirt freshman, Saunders started for the Mountaineers and set freshman records with 682 yards and five touchdowns.
In his first game, Saunders hauled in six catches for 130 yards, setting the tone for the rest of his career as a Mountaineer.
There was no Sophomore slump for Saunders, as he was selected to his first All-Big East selection as a first teamer. During his Sophomore campaign, Saunders led the Big East with 83 yards and 6.1 receptions per game.
He finished the season with 1,043 yards, becoming the first receiver in WVU history to break the 1,000 yard mark.
Saunders sat out for the 1997 season, but returned during the 1998 season and made the All-Big East Second-Team, and tie Shawn Foreman’s single season reception mark with 77.
Saunders enjoyed a great career in the Arena Football League, tallying 5,000 yards receiving while also playing linebacker for his teams. He recorded over 100 tackles during his eight year career, along with 115 receiving touchdowns.
Saunders’ caught a touchdown in the 2007 ArenaBowl, during his teams’ 53-33 loss.
1a/1b. Tavon Austin & Stedman Bailey
Career stats: Austin- 288 receptions, 3,413 yards receiving, 29 receiving touchdowns, 1,033 rushing yards, 2,407 KR yards & 10 touchdowns combined from rushing and returning.
Bailey: 210 receptions, 3,218 receiving yards & 41 touchdowns
These two receivers did so much during their time together, that it is nearly impossible to place one ahead of the other, so they take the top two spots in a tie for first.
Tavon Austin holds the school record for career receptions and receiving yards, largely due to his role in the offense during his entire four-year career at WVU. Stedman Bailey is 2nd in both categories, despite only being at WVU for three years.
Bailey holds the record for career receiving touchdowns with 41, and Austin is one spot behind him with 29 receiving touchdowns but collected 10 extra touchdowns in the return game, and as a running back.
When these two stepped on the field, there was always the potential of magic. Austin used electrifying speed and cuts, while Bailey used precise routes and fantastic hands to reel in almost every ball thrown his way.
While Austin holds two career records to Stedman’s one, Bailey had the best statistical season by any receiver in the history of WVU.
During the 2012 season Bailey recorded 114 receptions, 1,622 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns, all which are single-season records at WVU.
Bailey finished 2nd that season in the NCAA in receiving yards, 3rd in receptions and led the nation in receiving touchdowns.
Bailey’s 25 receiving touchdowns were the 3rd most of all-time, and were eleven more touchdowns than any other receiver in college football that season.
Austin’s 2012 season was nothing to overlook either.
Austin had 114 receptions (tying Bailey for the school-record), 2,745 all-purpose yards (1249 receiving) and 39 total touchdowns.
As many remember, Austin had one of the most memorable performances in Milan Puskar Stadium history against the Oklahoma Sooners.
From the beginning of the season, Austin had been used all over the field in as many ways imaginable. For this game, Austin lined up in the backfield for the Mountaineers and torched the Sooners for 344 rushing yards on 21 carries.
The two players were so magnificent that it is tough to compare them and what they did for WVU football.
In terms of Mountaineer history compared to the NBA, its almost like comparing Lebron and Michael Jordan (even though I think it’s MJ and not even close, but that is a different argument.)
Both players were so incredible, and excelled in their style of football that you cannot put one ahead of the other. What Stedman lacked, Tavon made up for and vice versa.
The two players will go down as two of the greatest Mountaineers of all-time, and will hold records for a long time.
Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know in the Comments!