Saturday was glorious. We inched closer to a completely full slate of college football games as the Big Ten triumphantly returned, and offensive fireworks exploded across the country. So, for this wide receiver watch, I'm just going to highlight the "stock up" performances from legitimate receiver prospects as an introduction of sorts for some of the Big Ten wideouts and also because it was very challenging to find pass catchers who had disappointing contests.
On the structure front for WR Watch, I decided it was essentially pointless to provide specific rankings of the wideouts prospects each week because everything is so fluid during the season from a scouting perspective. Instead, I'll simply include "stock up," "stock steady," or "stock down" after each receiver's name based on how well he played in the most recent contest.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama: Frown
Before I get to the abundance of stock ups, I wanted to get the sad out of the way. The Waddle injury is like noticing one of your tires is flat before you leave for work. Deflating -- pun intended. First play of the game, awkward fall on the tackle, and he's out for the season with a fractured ankle. It slams the brakes on the "Waddle ahead of Ja'Marr Chase" train that was chugging ahead with a full head of steam, but if Waddle declares for the draft, he's still likely to land in the first round. He's that dynamic.
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: Stock Up, Slightly
Bateman went for 101 yards on nine grabs in Minnesota's loss at home to Michigan. He worked the slant route in the RPO game most of the evening, and the Wolverines held him in check until a nasty cutback after the catch early in the third quarter. Later in that stanza, Bateman made an awesome adjustment on an underthrown deep shot from Tanner Morgan. While it wasn't a dominant effort from Bateman, he certainly passed his first test of the season. He looked sleeker and more explosive than I remembered from 2019. Good sign.
Chris Olave, Ohio State: Stock Up, Slightly
The book on Olave is that he's the latest route-running maestro from Ohio State, but he's a little lanky and doesn't really bring anything else special to the field. Against Nebraska, he was open on seemingly every play from the slot and the outside. Some of that was due to the Huskers playing some soft zone in hopes of keeping everything in front of them, but Olave finished with six grabs for 104 yards.
He worked the sidelines all afternoon but his longest reception came on a deep over route in the second half. Solid start to his junior campaign. Basically, it was what just about everybody and their brother expected.
Dyami Brown, North Carolina: Stock Up
Near the end of the half, Brown made a sideline snag that wasn't difficult because he didn't take contact nor had to rebound it over a corner. It just struck me because, although he was wide open, Brown had to sky for what was a high throw, and the reception gave a glimpse of the size of his catch radius and how naturally he plucks the football down the field. He nearly scored in the third quarter on a deep slant in which he boxed out the outside corner but was tackled just short of the end zone. Brown won't be for everybody, because the NFL is a separation-based league now. But serious vertical threats with experience winning on the outside with long arms and major leaping ability have a place in many offenses. Brown had seven catches for 105 yards in the win.
Seth Williams, Auburn: Stock Up
While we're on the topic of big-bodied contested-catch monsters, let's talk Williams. After two stinkers, Auburn's towering target looked the part of someone I labeled as the best rebounder in college football a few weeks ago. We do have to remember, the competition level was a little different over the past few games. Last week, South Carolina's likely early-round corner Jaycee Horn gave Williams issues, and Ole Miss hasn't played defense since ... ever. But, a bounce-back performance was needed.
After a fine demonstration of his hands-catching skills and ability to absorb contact and hang onto the football over the middle, Williams hurdled a defender after a phenomenal destruction of press coverage at the line. And that play explains part of why I'm still high on Williams. He's not a lumbering 6-foot-3, 230-pound half tight end. He's 6-3, 211 and is plenty explosive enough for his size. His game-winning touchdown was a thing of beauty in like 50 different ways. Firstly, Williams snatched the ball well outside his frame with two defenders in close, avoided a tackle, then instantly accelerated up the field for the touchdown. Eight catches for 150 yards and that score for Williams. He needed that game.
Terrace Marshall, LSU: Stock Up, Slightly
Rounding out the trio of tall, touchdown-creators with Marshall, who tacked on two scores against South Carolina to bring his season total to nine. He had six grabs for 88 yards, and his first touchdown was completely created by the scheme. His second score was all him. After catching a short in-breaker, Marshall gathered himself and erupted down the middle of the field, making a subtle cut after getting close to top gear to get to the end zone for the 51-year touchdown. Reminder, Marshall is 6-3 and 200 pounds.
Marlon Williams, UCF: Stock Up
Last week's cover guy went off against Tulane, which, by the way, played in their elite blue and green threads. Anyway, his first touchdown -- of three -- came on a wild scramble-drill. However, Williams made a ridiculous back juke Reggie Bush would be proud of with two defenders around him to free himself from the sideline. Right before the half, outstanding toe drag swag in the back left corner of the end zone. UCF's Air Raid offense generates ample space for the wideouts to operate, but Williams has taken full advantage and has the squatty, running back frame I love in receiver prospects today -- if they're not tremendous separators. Williams had nine grabs for 174 yards in the win over Tulane.
Marquez Stevenson, Houston: Stock Up
Stevenson has the body type to be a burner, and he takes off like a rocket on the football field. He finished with nine catches for 127 yards with two touchdowns. The second score was a simple swing pass, and it demonstrated his acceleration capability and balance because he flipped on the afterburners the second he caught the football and was able to tiptoe the sideline on his way to the end zone. In the second quarter, Stevenson showcased how dangerous he is when he caught a classic five-yard hitch outside the numbers, then flipped his hips and exploded for another 12 yards without a defender touching him.