Rice football lays claim to one of the nation’s greatest wide receivers. Can Aaron Cephus put together another jaw-dropping performance in 2018?
Aaron Cephus tallied 25 receptions in 2017. That’s not a herculean amount of catches, but it led the Owls by a good margin. Austin Walter and Kylen Granson were second on the team with 18 receptions each, but Walter is a running back and Granson is no longer with the team. That’s not to say it’s going to be a one-man show in 2018, but Cephus will be the preeminent pass-catching threat for Rice. The numbers he puts up could be extraordinary.
As a freshman, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Cephus was one of the most impressive receivers in the nation. His 622 yards were modest, but his 24.9 yards per catch topped not only Conference USA, but the entire nation. He averaged more than seven additional yards per catch than anyone else in the conference; Turner Smiley from North Texas was the No. 2 receiver in CUSA and he averaged 17.8 yards per catch.
Inexplicably, Cephas was left off the 2018 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, the award given to the nation’s top pass catcher. Several other CUSA players did make the cut; Teddy Veal (Louisiana Tech), Tyre Brady (Marshall), Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee), Jalen Guyton (North Texas) and Michael Lawrence (North Texas). Those five may very well be deserving but leaving Cephus off the list is short-sighted at best and ignorant at worst.
Like Cephus, the rest of the Rice receiving corps is extremely young. Sophomores Cameron Montgomery and Austin Trammell with line up opposite Cephus with redshirt freshman Rhett Cardwell and Chris Bourdeaux also factoring into the mix.
As long as Cephus takes the bulk of the targets the Owls won’t need to find another top-flight pass catcher, but getting a pair of players with 20+ receptions should be a realistic goal for this offense. That will clear things but for Cephus, providing him with one-on-one matchups he can exploit.