The University of Louisville has enjoyed a plethora of great wide receivers in school history, but who is the best? We took a look at the best and attempted to extrapolate through the eras just who was the best wide receiver ever at the Unviersity of Louisville. We took into account what the player did while playing for UofL AND what they did after exhausting their eligibility, including their total impact on the program.
Special thanks to Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) for helping to pull some of the information listed below. If you feel that anyone should be included that is not listed here, leave us a comment at the end of the article.
#1 Mark Clayton- (1979-82) 96 receptions, 2004 yards (#11 at UofL), 10 Touchdowns. 9 100-yard games, 4 150-yard receiving games. 5x Pro Bowl Selection, 3x All-Pro, 2x NFL Receiving TDs leader. Miami Dolphins Honor Roll, Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame. Drafted 1983, 8th round, 223rd overall. Clayton is the only UofL wide receiver to average over 20 yards per reception for his career and have at least 50 receptions. 11 year career in NFL. NFL Stats: 582 receptions, 8974 yards, 84 TDs. 77th All-Time in NFL Receptions, 59th All-Time in NFL Receiving Yards, 18th All-Time in NFL Receiving TDs. Clayton’s 18 Receiving TDs in 1984 is the 3rd most productive receiving Touchdowns in NFL history. Played one season with Green Bay Packers.
#2 Deion Branch – (2000-01) 143 receptions, 2204 yards (#7 at UofL) 18 Touchdowns (#5 at UofL). Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, 2x Super Bowl Champion (XXXVIII, XXXIX) C-USA 1st team 2000 & 2001. 12 100-yard receiving games. 4 150-yard receiving games. Drafted 2002, 2nd round, 65th overall by the New England Patriots. Tied Super Bowl record with 11 receptions in Super Bowl XXXIX. Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also played with the Seattle Seahawks. NFL Stats: 518 receptions, 6644 yards, 39 TDs. Played 11 seasons in the NFL. 118th in NFL All-time in Receptions, 147th All-Time NFL Receiving Yardage.
#3 DeVante Parker- (2011-14) 156 receptions, 2775 yards (#3 at UofL), 33 Touchdowns (#1 at UofL). 10 100-yard receiving games. 3 150-yard receiving games, 1 200-yard receiving game. 10 consecutive games with a TD reception at UofL. ACC 2nd team 2014, AAC 1st team 2013, Big East 1st team 2012. Drafted 2015, 1st round, 14th overall by the Miami Dolphins and is still active with Miami. Current NFL Stats: 82 receptions, 1238 yards, 7 TDs. (could revise this position, depending on NFL career)
#4 Arnold Jackson – (1997-2000) 300 receptions, 3,670 yards (#1 at UofL), 31 Touchdowns (#2 at UofL). C-USA 1st team 1998 & 1999, C-USA 2nd team 2000, 16 100-yard receiving games. 4 150-yard receiving games. Arnold Jackson ranks 11th in FBS in career receptions with 300 (1st player ever with 300 career receptions in college football). 47 consecutive games with a reception. Arnold played 2 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals totalling 14 receptions for 86 yards, 1 TD in 32 games while adding 71 punt returns and 643 yards.
#5 Ernest Givins- (1984-85) 67 receptions, 1266 yards, 10 Touchdowns. (2 seasons). 2x Pro Bowl Selection, All-Pro in 1990. Drafted 1986, 2nd round, 34th overall. Louisville’s only WR ever to make the NFL All-Rookie team in 1986. Only 3 other players have made NFL All-Rookie teams Teddy Bridgewater did it in 2014, Amobi Okoye did it in 2007, and Joe Johnson did it in 1994. Played 10 seasons in NFL with the Houston Oilers & Jacksonville Jaguars. Currently offensive coordinator at Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg, FL. NFL Stats: 571 receptions, 8215 yards, 49 TDs. 82nd All-Time in NFL Receptions, 84th All-Time in NFL Receiving Yardage, 128th All-Time in NFL Receiving TDs, 200th All-Time in NFL All-Purpose Yardage.
#6 Harry Douglas- (2004-2007) 173 receptions, 2924 yards (#2 at UofL), 15 Touchdowns (#7 at UofL). 10 100-yard receiving games. 4 150-yard receiving games, 2 200-yard receiving games. AP 2nd team 2007, Big East 1st team 2006 & 2007, Drafted 2008, 3rd round, 84th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. Has earned $17.8M during his NFL career and is set to earn $1.6M in 2017 with the Tennessee Titans. 9 seasons in the NFL Harry has 309 receptions, 3751 yards and 10 Touchdowns.
#7 J.R. Russell – (2001-04) 186 receptions, 2619 yards (#4 at UofL) 19 Touchdowns (#4 at UofL). 11 100-yard receiving games. 36 consecutive games with a reception. C-USA 1st team 2003 & 2004, Drafted 2005, 7th round, 253rd overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also played Arena Football for the Orlando Predators.
#8 Eli Rogers – (2011-14) 176 receptions, 2020 yards (#10 at UofL) 12 Touchdowns (#10 at UofL). Eli was undrafted in the 2015 NFL Drafted and signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Current NFL Stats: 48 receptions, 594 yards, 3 TDs.
#9 Mario Urrutia- (2005-2007) 130 catches, 2271 yards (#6 at UofL), 16 Touchdowns (#6 at UofL). 8 100-yard games. Sports Illustrated & Sporting News Honorable Mention All-American 2005, Big East 1st team 2005, Big East 2nd team 2006, Drafted 2008, 7th round, 246th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. Spent time on practice/offseason rosters for Bengals, Jets, and Buccaneers and bounced around Arena and other professional football leagues.
#10 Miguel Montano – (1994-97) 175 receptions, 2305 yards (#5 at UofL), 5 Touchdowns. C-USA 2nd team 1997. 9 100-yard receiving games. 14 receptions in a game twice (Cincinnati 1997, Southern Miss 1996)
Louisville has had a TON of excellence at Wide Receiver. Capping this at a list of a “Top Ten” is really difficult because it’s more than just simple stats and listing receivers in order based on receptions, yards and TDs. Different eras and professional impact play a huge factor in determining who was the best.
Mark Clayton’s impact at UofL came at a time when the Cards weren’t very good…….but 2000+ yards on less than 100 catches is outstanding AND stats don’t tell the WHOLE STORY. In the 4 years Mark played at UofL, here are the average yards passing per game by year: 1979 107.3 ypg, 1980 103.1 ypg, 1981 141.0 ypg, 1982 195.5 yards per game. The highest completion percentage during Clayton’s tenure was in 1982 at 44.4%….. so it’s not as if Clayton played at UofL with Jay Gruden or someone that will make UofL’s Best Ever Quarterbacks.
Additionally Mark Clayton was a 5x Pro Bowler and STILL has a tremendous impact on the NFL record books. Deion Branch is a 2x Super Bowl Champion and a Super Bowl MVP and in 2 years made a really big impact on the UofL Football record book. DeVante Parker’s numbers are undeniable and the argument of “what would his numbers have been if Charlie had opened it up” is valid….. but by opening up Teddy Bridgewater would have produced more yards for Devante, but also Damian Copeland, Eli Rogers, Gerald Christian, etc.
Beyond the Top 3 I couldn’t go any further without Arnold Jackson who was the first ever college football player with 300 receptions. Jackson’s production is unbelivable and in most programs he’d be in the Top 3… but this is the AFROs. Also, how ridiculous is it that Ernest Givins checks in at #5? The Cards have had a ton of great Wide Receivers in its history. Harry Douglas coming into his 10th year in the NFL dots the Cardinal record books at #6 and while J.R. Russell didn’t have an NFL impact, his numbers and production at UofL warrants him here at #7.
Eli Rogers has to make the list in my opinion and I struggled with placing him above Miguel Montano, but Rogers early returns in the NFL persuaded me to do so. And Mario Urrutia’s yardage & touchdowns while at UofL just begs inclusion as well.
Personally I struggled placing and selecting a Top 10. I could hear any argument about moving these players around and moving some guys from the “Also Considered” into the Top 10. So tell me what you think, how would you rank the best wide receivers in Louisville Football history?
Aaron Bailey – (1992-93) 2 seasons. 39 receptions, 883 yards, 5 TDs at UofL. 51 kick returns, 1181 yards, 24 punt returns, 275 yards 1 TD. Played in NFL from 1994-98 with Indianapolis Colts. Best known for a Hail Mary catch in 1995 AFC Championship Game from Jim Harbaugh that was ruled a drop… allowing the Pittsburgh Steelers to Super Bowl XXX. Undrafted. NFL Stats: 67 receptions, 1040 yards, 6 TDs, 3501 Kick Return Yards, 2 KR TDs. Also had an outstanding Arena Football career.
Doug Beaumont – (2007-2010) 141 receptions, 1655 yards, 1 TD. 34 punt returns, 404 yards, 1 TD. Big East 2nd team.
Josh Bellamy (2010-11) 53 receptions, 681 yards, 7 TDs. Undrafted in 2012. Still in NFL entering his 6th season in league with the Chicago Bears (4th season with Bears) and has also played with the Chiefs, Chargers & Redskins. Current NFL stats: 38 receptions, 506 yards, 3 TDs. Has earned $2.266M during his career and is set to earn $775,000 in 2017.
Lavell Boyd – (1997-1999) 3 seasons. 135 receptions, 1775 yards, 10 TDs. 4 TDs vs. Houston (1999). Undrafted played with Cincinnati Bengals in 2000, was injured with the Miami Dolphins & briefly was with the Minnesota Vikings. Also played in NFL Europe & Arena Football.
Josh Chichester (2008-2011) 97 receptions, 1253 yards, 11 TDs
Broderick Clark- (2002-2005) 67 receptions, 909 yards, 4 TDs. 97 kick returns, 2200 yards, 2 TDs. College Football News 2nd team, 2002, C-USA 1st team 2002 (senior year shortened)
Kevin Cook (1991-93) 3 seasons, 56 receptions, 995 yards, 11 TDs. 9 TDs in 1993.
Damian Copeland – (2010-2013) 116 receptions, 1521 yards, 7 TDs. Missed 2011. 29 games with a reception. Undrafted in 2014 to Jacksonville Jaguars and finished career with Detroit Lions in 2016.
Anthony Cummings – (1987-90) 25 Touchdowns (#3 at UofL), most receiving TDs in a single game with 5. 82 receptions, 1238 yards, 20 TDs. Best known for nailing the goalpost on a TD during the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.
Damien Dorsey (2000-2002) 79 receptions, 1173 yards, 8 TDs. (3 seasons) C-USA 1st team 2002
Lonny Gilbert (1966-68) 76 receptions, 1118 yards,7 TDs. 3 seasons.
Trent Guy – (2006-09) 43 receptions, 722 yards, 5 TDs. 86 kick returns, 1980 yards, 2 TDs Big East 2nd team 2008 & 2009. Undrafted signed by the Raiders and eventually to the Carolina Panthers.
Larry Hart (1968-1970) -48 receptions, 929 yards, 11 TDs. Played QB for UofL in 1969, and just played 2 seasons at WR.
Fred Jones (1988-1991) 63 receptions, 1005 yards, 5 TDs.
Montrell Jones (2004-05) – 80 receptions, 1138 yards, 8 TDs at UofL (played 2 seasons at Tennessee 28 receptions, 356 additional stats as a Vol).
Scott Long (2007-2009) 91 receptions, 1286 yards, 4 TDs
Kevin Miller (1974-1977) 73 receptions, 1050 yards, 6 TDs. 47 rushes, 268 yards, 2 TDs at UofL. Played 3 seasons in NFL appearing in 23 games after being undrafted by the Minnesota Vikings.
Zek Parker – (1998-2001) 128 receptions, 1804 yards, 13 TDs. 103 kick returns, 2558 yards, 3 TDs. C-USA 1st team 2001, C-USA 2nd team 2000, 2 150-yard receiving games. 13 Touchdowns (#9 at UofL)
Kenny Robinson (1977-1980) 71 receptions, 1204 yards, 6 TDs.
James Quick– (2013-16) ACC 3rd team 2016. 126 receptions, 2032 yards (#9 at UofL), 14 Touchdowns (#8 at UofL). Undrafted and signed by the Washington Redskins following the 2017 NFL Draft.
Charles Sheffield (1996-99) 95 receptions, 1238 yards, 5 TDs.
Andrell Smith (2009-2012) – 70 receptions, 1120 yards, 7 TDs.
Clarence Spencer – (1964-65) 2 seasons, 30 receptions, 382 yards, 3 TDs. Drafted 1967, 15th round, 379th pick by the San Francisco 49ers.
Jamari Staples – (2015-16) 73 receptions, 1253 yards, 5 TDs at UofL. Undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft and was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Joshua Tinch (2002-2005) – Big East 1st team 2005. 162 receptions, 2195 yards (#8 at UofL), 10 Touchdowns. 38 consecutive games with a reception.
Howard Turley – Drafted 1960, 19th round, 222nd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers 27 rec, 389 yds, 3 TD
Ed Young – (1955-58) 35 catches, 768 yards, 21.9 yards per catch. Drafted 1959, 26th round, 306th overall by the San Francisco 49ers. 1957 Sun Bowl team.
*Louisville has never had a first team all-American wide receiver.
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