Gophers sophomore wide receiver Rashod Bateman has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best wide receiver in Division I college football.
Surprisingly, Bateman's teammate, senior Tyler Johnson, is not among the 12 players vying for the prestigious honor. You needn't look any further than their numbers to wonder why Bateman made it and Johnson did not.
- Bateman: 44 catches, 944 yards, 7 TD (21.5 average)
- Johnson: 59 catches, 900 yards, 9 TD (15.3 average)
Want to blame someone? Blame the hundreds of journalists, commentators, announcers and former wide receivers who vote on the award. The most recent vote was conducted Nov. 11-17, so all of the voters probably saw Bateman go for more than 200 yards in Minnesota's upset victory over then-fourth-ranked Penn State.
The same voters probably didn't see Johnson come up with big catch after big catch in Minnesota's close loss to Iowa. But they probably did see Johnson's critical drop late in the fourth quarter, because that was the play that caught the most national attention.
Bateman is certainly as good as pretty much any wide receiver in the country. Here's a list of players he's against for the award.
- Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
- Omar Bayless, Arkansas State
- Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
- Anthony Gandy-Golden, Liberty
- Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
- Justin Jefferson, LSU
- Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
- CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
- Michael Pittman Jr., USC
- James Proche, SMU
- DeVonta Smith, Alabama
- Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
What's ironic is that both Alabama and LSU have two receivers in the mix for the award. You may recall that the Nov. 9 game between Alabama and LSU lured in ESPN's "College GameDay" – for the 46th time in Tuscaloosa – rather bringing the live TV production to Minneapolis for the first time ever for the Gophers huge game against Penn State.
Bottom line: Minnesota remains a college football flyover while the blue bloods get the attention, regardless if Johnson is deserving.
To be clear, the 12 semifinalists are all putting up impressive numbers. And to be clearer, Johnsons numbers this season are nearly identical to Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, who won the award last year.
- Bayless: 73 catches, 1,244 yards, 14 TD
- Chase: 51 catches, 1,116 yards, 13 TD
- Gandy-Golden: 64 catches, 1,244 yards, 8 TD
- Hodgins: 73 catches, 1,021 yards, 13 TD
- Jefferson: 71 catches, 1,010 yards, 11 TD
- Jeudy: 64 catches, 867 yards, 9 TD
- Lamb: 44 catches, 983 yards, 13 TD
- Pittman Jr.: 82 catches, 1,118 yards, 9 TD
- Proche: 88 catches, 1,008 yards, 12 TD
- Smith: 56 catches, 1,026 yards, 11 TD
- Surratt: 66 catches, 1,001 yards, 11 TD
Also keep in mind that the Gophers have attempted far fewer passes than all of the other teams with a player voted into the semifinals for the award. Imagine the damage Bateman and Johnson would be doing if Minnesota had 100+ more pass attempts.
- USC (419)
- SMU (397)
- LSU (370)
- Wake Forest (359)
- Arkansas State (355)
- Liberty (341)
- Oregon State (339)
- Alabama (327)
- Oklahoma (285)
- Minnesota (233)
At the end of the day it's a superficial list because draft evaluators won't care about an award attached to a prospect's name, but they sure as hell will see what Johnson has done to opposing defenses.