Earlier this off-season we played around with some returning stats when we took a look at the returning offensive firepower in the SEC. Bill Connelly from Football Outsiders posted some interesting stuff over at his Football Study Hall site in regards to receivers. There are a lot of different directions that you can take the data that he has given to us. I thought we would look at this data a couple of different ways to see who might be some guys to keep an eye on this season.

justin-hunterIf you think Bray missed this guy, you would be correct

I thought a basic but (hopefully) effective way to utilize it was to look at returning SEC receivers and who has the highest "catch rate". What is catch rate? It's simply the percentage of catches that a player had when targeted. I used a minimum of 70% catch rate and a minimum of 20 targets to make the cut.


Player Pos Team Catch Rate Total Targets Yds Per Target
Justice Cunningham TE South Carolina 90.00% 20 7.1
Ronnie Wingo RB Arkansas 87.00% 23 8.1
Quan Bray WR Auburn 85.00% 20 4.7
Justin Hunter WR Tennessee 85.00% 20 15.7
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 81.00% 21 10.0
Trovon Reed WR Auburn 77.80% 27 6.1
Dennis Johnson RB Arkansas 77.40% 31 8.2
Zac Stacy RB Vanderbilt 76.90% 26 4.1
Kevin Norwood WR Alabama 75.00% 20 13.4
Kenny Bell WR Alabama 75.00% 24 11.7
Marlin Lane Jr RB Tennessee 73.90% 12 7.0
Malcolm Mitchell WR Georgia 73.80% 61 10.9
Odell Beckham, Jr WR LSU 72.10% 61 8.3
L'Damian Washington WR Missouri 71.40% 28 13.0
Hutson Prioleau TE Texas A&M 70.00% 20 6.8


Another stat I thought would be interesting to take a look at would be yards per target (with a minimum of 20 targets). Here is how that shook out:

Player Pos Team Yds Per Target Total Targets Catch Rate
Andre Debose WR Florida 16.0 27 59.30%
Justin Hunter WR Tennessee 15.7 20 85.00%
Kevin Norwood WR Alabama 13.4 20 75.00%
L'Damian Washington WR Missouri 13.0 28 71.40%
Kenny Bell WR Alabama 11.7 24 75.00%
Rajion Neal RB Tennessee 11.2 24 54.20%
Chris Conley WR Georgia 11.1 26 61.50%
Malcolm Mitchell WR Georgia 10.9 61 73.80%
Marcus Lucas WR Missouri 10.6 39 59.00%
Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina 10.0 21 81.00%


Want to dig a bit deeper? Let's take a look at the top returning receivers in the conference (in terms of receptions):

Tennessee's Da'Rick Rogers led the league with 67 receptions. He was targeted 115 times for a catch rate of 58.3% and had a yards per target of 9.0.

The second leading returning receiver in the league is Georgia's Tavarres King. He had 46 receptions last year on 88 targets for a catch rate of 52.3%. He also had a yards per target of 7.7. I would be interested to see a game by game break-down because it really took King and Murray a while last year to get on the same page and I really thought they were a lot better over the second half of the year as a tandem.

The third leading returning receiver in the SEC is Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell and you can see his stats above.

Next is Vandy's Jordan Matthews. Matthews was targeted 84 times for 41 receptions for a catch rate of 48.8% and a yards per target average of 9.3.

Let's also take a look at the top returning receivers for the newbies in the conference:

Texas A&M's Ryan Swope was targeted 128 times for 89 yards for a catch rate of 69.5%, so he just missed out on being among our leaders in catch rate. He had a yards per target of 9.4, again he just missed out on being among the leaders in that target. An couple of interesting things to point out for Swope and A&M in 2012 is that they have a new coaching staff which will bring a new offensive scheme and he will also have a new QB.

T.J. Moe is the top returning ball catcher for Mizzou. He had 54 receptions on 78 targets for a catch rate of 69.2% and he had a yards per target average of 8.3.

A few teams that we haven't talked about at all in this article....Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. It will be interesting to watch some of the guys on these lists, especially the younger guys with less targets and receptions, and see how they develop this season.

Make sure you check out Bill Connelly's Football Study Hall and you can also follow him on Twitter @SBN_BillC.

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