If there was one bright spot for the Cincinnati Bearcats’ dismal offensive performance of last season it was the play of Devin Gray. A junior college transfer from Rocklin, California, Gray came in and was immediately a favored target for the running cast of characters that lined up under center for UC. He led the Bearcats in receptions (58), yards (860) and tied for the top spot in touchdowns (five). In a more simplistic breakdown, he was the team’s best wide receiver.
There are some who believe he could be the best in the country. That’s why Gray made the watch list for the 2017 Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best wide receiver in the country. The award has been around since 1994 and has featured such talented winners as Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree. No UC player or contributor for a current American Athletic Conference member has ever won the award. That means Gray will have a mountain to climb to get to the summit and that’s before even considering the fact that UC is learning a new offense and is not exactly poised to eat up chunks of yardage through the air or otherwise.
There are a number of other American Athletic Conference wide receivers on the watch list, including Houston’s Linell Bonner, Temple’s Ventell Bryant, Memphis’ Anthony Miller, UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith, SMU’s Courtland Sutton and East Carolina’s Jimmy Williams. Miller and Sutton are the favorites coming out of this conference, as they finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the league in receiving yards a year ago. Gray finished ninth, while Bonner (five), Bryant (seven) and Williams (10) each finished in the top 10. Smith narrowly missed out, finishing 12th with 853 yards.
There is no doubt that Gray was a surprise breakout player last year and is now the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart entering the 2017 campaign. Glad to see somebody else noticed.