Online Now 1255

All-Time Top 10: Wide Receivers

While it was a struggle to come up with the top tight ends in Longhorn history, it’s not as difficult to come up with other group of pass-catchers.

No. 10 Limas Sweed

Texas has been blessed with some very talented receivers. The school has produced some of the best in the country in recent years.

But who’s the best receiver to wear the burnt orange since 1960?

10. LIMAS SWEED (2004-07)

Why he’s in this spot?
Where would he have ended up on this list if he hadn’t been injured his senior season? Sweed was big, fast and had just about the perfect body for a receiver. Still, for many, there’s a feeling that he could have been much higher up on this list if he was a little more consistent. He finished his career with 124 receptions for 1,915 yards and 20 TDs. His biggest catch came as a sophomore when he caught the game-winner at Ohio State in 2005.

How he ended up at Texas?
During Sweed's recruitment, Texas was on a recruiting roll. The Longhorns snared just about every prospect in the state that they wanted, and Sweed would prove no different. The Horns can also thank former wide receiver Roy Williams for Sweed's affinity for the Longhorns. Sweed, who would go on to wear No. 4 in Austin, said he grew up idolizing Williams because of their similarity in size and the position they played. He also considered Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but it was really all Texas the whole way.

What they’re saying
Kirk Bohls: “Limas Sweed arguably had the second-most famous catch in Longhorn history right after the one by Mr. Peschel in 1969. Sweed's backward, falling-down grab of a pass in the end zone sealed the win over Ohio State and was the impetus for Texas' first national championship in 35 years. He was a poor man's Roy Williams and made more big catches than most remembered.”

9. ALFRED JACKSON (1974-77)

Why he’s in this spot?
Played at Texas well before the high-octane passing offenses arrived, but was still able to put up solid numbers. Jackson had just 70 receptions in college, but he averaged 20.6 yards per catch for 1,441 yards. He caught eight touchdown passes and was always a threat on the deep ball.

Limas Sweed's touchdown catch against Ohio State is one of the defining memories from the 2005 season.

How he ended up at Texas?
David McWilliams remembers that the Jackson’s lived out on a farm. Jackson went to Caldwell High School and McWilliams thought that he was going to be a great punt returner. The hard thing about recruiting him was Texas was running the wishbone at the time. McWilliams said, “All I kept telling him was that when we do throw it, you’re it. The other thing I remember about Alfred is he had never flown on an airplane. Still, he was basically a star when he got here. Great hands and good blocker. He has done very well in the business world since he’s left. It came down to us and Texas A&M, and I’m glad we got him.”

What they’re saying
Ted Koy: “He was more of a finesse guy. He had the speed, talent and hands. But if you missed him, he was open and would make the catch. He wasn’t used as much because of the time he played for us, but he would have been a monster in an era when the Longhorns threw the ball more.”

8. JOHNNY WALKER (1987-90)

Why he’s in this spot?
What’s amazing is during his four years on campus he only found the end zone four times. His best season was his junior year, which came in the middle of coach David McWilliams’ rough stretch. Walker had 55 receptions for 785 yards and four touchdowns. It was the only year he found the end zone as a receiver. You have to remember the pass he caught against Oklahoma to win the Red River Shootout. He had better speed than people give him credit for but he was a technician who played the game with passion.

How he ended up at Texas?
As former Texas coach Davis McWilliams explained, “We signed him and the Cash twins on that same team (San Antonio Holmes). It was the first year I was back. I had to convince him and the Cash twins that we were going to throw the ball. Fred Akers hasn’t been throwing the ball. I know Michigan, UCLA tried to recruit him. He was recruited by Bobby Jack Wright.”

What they’re saying
Kirk Bohls: “I was in school and working for the team as a video assistant during Johnny's sophomore to senior years. I saw him in practice every day. He practiced different than every other receiver, except for maybe the Cash twins. He was a crisp route runner and always had a pop in his step. I was in the Cotton Bowl when he ran the post route on fourth down to beat OU. That play took him to another level. He was always good but that play elevated his confidence and Peter Gardere's confidence in him the rest of his career.”

7. KWAME CAVIL (1997-99)

Why he’s in this spot?
He was a big, physical receiver who posted one of the best single seasons in Longhorn history in 1999 teaming up with Major Applewhite. That year he caught 100 passes for 1,188 yards and six touchdowns. At the time, both were school records. He finished his career with 174 catches for 2,279 yards and 10 touchdowns.

No. 9 Alfred Jackson

How he ended up at Texas?
Cavil chose the Longhorns over Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor. But the rub is, he was actually recruited as a linebacker by John Mackovic’s staff. Cavil spent his first Longhorn practice catching some passes, which Mackovic’s staff did with every incoming player, and he never saw the defensive side of the ball again.

What they’re saying
Bobby Burton: “The word I think describes Kwame as a football player best is 'moxie'. Some guys just know how to play the game, how to use small things they do well to the best of their ability. That was Kwame. He had absolute glue for hands and was quicker than he was fast. He and Wane McGarrity gave Texas a nice one-two punch at receiver."

6. MIKE ADAMS (1992-93, 95-96)

Why he’s in this spot?
He was about as consistent as they come as three of his four years on campus ended up as extremely solid seasons with all-conference accolades. He recorded 52 receptions for 908 yards as a sophomore, 53 receptions for 876 yards as a junior and 56 for 942 as a senior. He finished his career with 174 receptions for 2,997 yards.

How he ended up at Texas?
John Mackovic made recruiting elite receivers and quarterbacks a priority. Mackovic hired Cleve Bryant as receivers coach and Bryant immediately targeted two blue chip prospects, Adams, a two-time all-state selection from Arlington Sam Houston, and Lovell Pinkney from Washington, D.C., for the 1993 class. Bryant signed them both. Adams had offers from across the country, but Houston because of its pass-happy offense was considered the leader for much of year. But the idea of helping Texas get back to national prominence along with allure of first-year quarterback Shea Morenz already on campus eventually put Texas over the top.

What they’re saying
Kirk Bohls: “Mike Adams never completely got his due as a receiver because of off-the-field problems that blemished the career of him and sidekick Lovell Pinkney. But he made the trademark sensational catch look routine. I'll never forget his tremendous game against A&M on the road, including a sideline catch that he made when he was prone to the ground. Terrific, under-rated receiver.”

5. JOHNNY LAM JONES (1976-79)

Why he’s in this spot?
A versatile receiver who could score by catching or running the football. Jones had eight touchdowns of 45 yards or more. The further away he was from the end zone, the farther behind the defense would end up from him when he scored. To call him fast would be an understatement. He won Olympic gold on the 4x100 sprint relay team in 1976 a couple of months after graduating from high school. He had 36 receptions for 535 yards his senior season and 25 receptions for 446 yards his sophomore season as the Longhorns won nine games both years.

Alfred Jackson put up great numbers in the '70s despite Texas' offense relying very heavily on the run.

How he ended up at Texas?
Chalk this one up to Ken Dabbs, who was told to go down to Lampasas and check out Jones. There were some concerns about Jones committing to Texas as his family was worried about race relations on campus. Dabbs remembers being worried about this topic when he arrived at the Jones house. Dabbs remembers the mother telling a story about how she was the fastest girl in Bastrop County. Dabbs happened to have “basically been raised by an African-American named Lonnie was from Bastrop County.” It turns out that Lonnie was related to Jones’ mother. Jones was going to head to Oklahoma before that fact was discovered. After that, he was headed to Texas as Dabbs promised he would take care of her son. And he did.

What they’re saying
Bobby Burton: “In recruiting, we always talk about guys who are fast and then the guys who are “elite fast”. Jones was elite fast in every sense of the words. Most people will remember Willie Gault in the NFL. Well, Jones was that fast or faster.”

4. QUAN COSBY (2005-08)

Why he’s in this spot?
Every year on campus he got a little better and a little tougher to stop. That led to a senior season where he caught 92 passes for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns. Paired with Jordan Shipley as the most unstoppable pair of receivers in school history. He was an excellent route runner who was quicker than he was fast. Finished his career with 212 receptions for 2,598 yards and 19 touchdowns, the last of which was the game-winner against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

How he ended up at Texas?
Texas coach Mack Brown was able to get Cosby to commit to the Longhorns two separate times. The first time came when he was straight out of Mart high school, where Mart won the state championship and he played quarterback. But Cosby signed a pro baseball contract in 2001 and ultimately went that direction for a couple of years. Then he wanted to return to football and it was between Texas and OU. He signed with the Longhorns in February of 2005, same class as Colt McCoy and Jamaal Charles, Roy Miller, Henry Melton and Jermichael Finley.

What they’re saying
Kirk Bohls: "If you needed 8 yards for a first down, Quan Cosby was your man. A great split end who could consistently get open and who had great hands. He was capable of taking it the distance as well as moving the chains. His game-winning catch against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Colt McCoy's best drive ever will never be forgotten. We'll even forgive him his penalized celebration on the dive into the end zone."

3. COTTON SPEYRER (1968-70)

Why he’s in this spot?
Mr. Clutch. He was best known for his last-minute touchdown reception in a come-from-behind victory over UCLA in 1970 and a catch in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame on fourth-and-two that helped the Longhorns cement their third national championship. He also is remembered for the Tennessee game where he burned the Volunteers over and over again. He had 30 receptions for 492 yards and three touchdowns for the 1969 national championship team. In 1970 he had 9 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown. He played in a run-first and run-second era so his numbers don’t tell the story of how good he really was.

No. 8 Johnny Walker

How he ended up at Texas?
When Fred Akers was asked about Speyrer he said he couldn’t remember exactly what happened during his recruitment. Akers said, “You know, recruiting wasn’t something that was talked about back then like it is today. It really wasn’t something that was even discussed much.” Speyrer was a two-time All-State selection from Port Arthur Jefferson.

What they’re saying
Ted Koy: “A guy who was a little before his time because we would only throw occasionally when he played. He was a QB out of high school and I think that helped him because he understood the total field and had the speed to get in those key spots. He had great hands, too. I’d love to see what a guy like this could do in today’s game.”

2. ROY WILLIAMS (2000-03)

Why he’s in this spot?
Dominant receiver who recorded 16 100-yard games and brought new definition to dominating the position at Texas. He finished with 241 receptions for 3,866 yards and posted back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons. He had 36 touchdown receptions, which set a Texas record. At times he looked unstoppable as he had the ideal body and athleticism to go along with it. The one thing that might have kept him out of the top spot was a reoccurring theme of struggling against Oklahoma. Of course, the entire team was struggling against Oklahoma at that time.

How he ended up at Texas?
There were few athletes in the country as promising as Roy Williams.
After all, he ran a sub 10.5 100-meter, long jumped more than 25 feet and played for possibly the most notable high school program in the country, Odessa Permian. Williams' brother, former Texas Tech receiver Lloyd Hill, ran the recruiting process for Williams. Hill and Williams liked the way Texas was committed to throwing the ball and the fact that the Horns had landed Chris Simms the year before. Even though he had committed to Texas, Texas A&M made a late push that is not often talked about. In fact, Williams had scholarship papers from A&M on signing day, but opted to stick with his commitment to the Longhorns. Williams was known as part of "The Big Three", along with fellow receivers B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas.

What they’re saying
Bobby Burton: "Roy, first and foremost, is a physical freak of nature. You're talking about a guy that is 6-2 plus, ran a sub-10.5 100 meter and long jumped over 25 feet in high school. And he could really make the spectacular grab. His freshman year, in one of his first games, he made a leaping catch on a post route where he kind of juggled the ball to himself. I think he's easily the most talented receiver ever to play at Texas, but I'm not sure he's the best.”

1. JORDAN SHIPLEY (2006-09)

Why he’s in this spot?
It’s hard to imagine a receiver putting together two better years than Shipley had during his final two on campus. In 2008 he caught 89 passes for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did it with a combination of speed and precise route-running. And then he one-upped himself the next season by catching 116 balls for 1,485 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Longhorns finished 25-2 during those two years. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how important he was to the Longhorns in 2008-09.

Kwame Cavil's 1999 season was one of the greatest every by a Texas wide receiver.

How he ended up at Texas?
Jordan played with Stephen McGee in high school at class 3A Burnet for his dad Bob Shipley. It was one of the best combinations Texans had ever seen on the high school level. Jordan always had liked Texas, and I think he wanted to stay close to Burnet. He chose Texas over A&M and Texas Tech. Tech really tried hard and at one time, he almost took a visit out there, but decided against it and the rest is Longhorn receiving history.

What they’re saying
Kirk Bohls: “Jordan Shipley was quite frankly the best Texas has ever had. He made the quality catches of Cotton Speyrer but also the tough catches over the middle. He was one of the most humble and grounded players to ever don the orange and white. The ultimate team-first player. His kickoff return against OU and his many touchdown punt returns made him one of the most valuable Longhorns ever as well. Big-time player. Big-time heart.”

---

All-Time Top 10 Series
Friday: Wide Receivers
Thursday: Tight Ends
Wednesday: Defensive Backs
Tuesday: Linebackers
Monday: Running Backs
--

The panel who voted on these lists include former University of Texas two-sport star Keith Moreland, who is now the color announcer for the Chicago Cubs, Ted Koy, who played running back for the Longhorns in the 60s and is an avid follower of the Longhorns, Ken Dabbs, the former recruiting coordinator at Texas during the 60s and 70s, Kirk Bohls, long-time columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, and Bobby Burton, who is a Texas graduate, editor of Hookem.com and former editor-in-chief of Rivals.com. Special thanks also goes to former Texas coaches David McWilliams and Fred Akers who helped fill in a lot of the gaps in the recruiting sections for this series.

Already have an account? Sign In