Antoine Wesley

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Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers

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College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

Will Grier and West Virginia lighting up Texas Tech

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Will Grier and the No. 12 West Virginia Mountaineers came ready for a track meet at No. 25 Texas Tech. Perhaps Texas Tech was still waking up at the time the game started because the visiting Mountaineers got off to a fast start and took a 21-0 lead before Texas Tech got on the board. At halftime in Lubbock, West Virginia leads Texas Tech by a score of 35-10 in a Big 12 matchup of ranked opponents.

Grier capped the game’s opening drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Gary Jennings Jr. After Alan Bowman was intercepted on Texas Tech’s first offensive series by Kenny Robinson Jr., Leddie Brown scored a short touchdown run for a 14-0 lead. The lead was extended to 21-0 on a Grier 45-yard pass to Marcus Simms later in the first quarter. Sims has been the big playmaker of the game, with nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Bowman got the Red Raiders on the board with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Wesley, but the Mountaineers responded on the ensuing possession with a 38-yard touchdown run by Kennedy McKoy.

After one half, Grier has won the quarterback showdown with Bowman by passing for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Bowman has had a rough afternoon, completing 9 of 20 passes for 123 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was also knocked out of the game in the first half, going to the locker room before halftime. It is being reported he will not return to the game.