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May 28, 2014

Ranking the Big Ten: WR

As Nebraska prepares for another run through the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the wide receiver position in the Big Ten heading into 2014.

1. Kenny Bell, Nebraska, 6-1, 185, Sr.
If you were to ask him, Nebraska's Kenny Bell would tell you his 52 catches for 577 yards and four touchdowns last season were a disappointment. Even though Bell came up with some huge plays, his numbers and overall productivity fell well short of the lofty goals he had set for himself going into the year. Now the clear No. 1 and leader of the Huskers' receiving corps, Bell is once again eying a breakout season, and all indications suggest he's poised to do just that. He'll need some of his younger wide outs to step up, but he will be one of the focal points in what should be an explosive NU offense in 2014.
2. Devin Smith, Ohio State, 6-1, 198, Sr.
Regarded as maybe Ohio State's best homerun hitter in the passing game after averaging 15.6 yards per catch as a junior last season, Devin Smith returns for his senior year to give the Buckeyes one of the most dangerous deep threats in the Big Ten. He still needs to become more productive as an all-around wide out and go-to guy on third downs, but he comes into 2014 as the clear leader of OSU's receiver group and will be looking to build off of his 42 receptions for 655 yards and eight touchdowns from a year ago.
3. Shane Wynn, Indiana, 5-7, 167, Sr.
Indiana's offense has developed into one of the most potent units in the country under head coach Kevin Wilson, and one of the Hoosiers' most dangerous weapons over the past few years has been Shane Wynn. The first player in IU history to post receiving, rushing, punt return and kickoff return touchdowns in his career, Wynn was a scoring machine for Indiana last season with 11 receiving scores, the third-most on Indiana's all-time single-season list. One of the most versatile players in the conference, Wynn will continue to give Hoosier opponents fits this season.
4. Tony Lippett, Michigan State, 6-3, 190, Sr.
Despite only being a full-time wide receiver since 2012 (he also played cornerback), Michigan State's Tony Lippett has emerged as one of the most reliable passing targets in the Big Ten going into his senior season. Leading the Spartans with a career-high 44 grabs for 613 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, Lippett not only put up solid numbers, he was at his best in clutch situations. In fact, 31 of his 44 catches last year resulted in either a first down or touchdown. With the emergence of quarterback Connor Cook, MSU could boast one of the best passing combos in the league this season.
5. Stefon Diggs, Maryland, 6-0, 195, Jr.
One of the newest members of the Big Ten, Maryland might boast one of the most electric wide receivers in the conference this season in junior Stefon Diggs. The biggest question with him is how he'll bounce back from a season-ending broken leg injury that forced him to miss the final five games of 2013. When healthy, Diggs was as good as any wide out in the ACC last season, as he still ranked second on the team with 34 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns. He and Deon Long, who coincidentally was also lost for the year with a broken leg in the same game, give the Terrapins a potentially dynamic one-two punch in the passing game.

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