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The Great Debate

November 02, 2003|Jim Rhode; Jay Christensen

WHO IS THE BEST RECEIVER

IN THE COLLEGE GAME THIS SEASON?

POINT: USC's Mike Williams is college football's best receiver -- hands down, thumbs up, however you want to put it. Think that Carson Palmer would have won the Heisman Trophy last season if Williams hadn't emerged as the second coming of Jerry Rice? Williams does it all. He catches balls long, short and in between, working the sideline and over the middle as well. He hauls in seemingly unreachable passes like Go-Go Gadget, drags defenders around like Ben-Hur, serves as a defender magnet so others such as Keary Colbert can steal away against single coverage and provides a security blanket for Linus, er Leinart. And how about that Willis Reed performance against Washington State Saturday, playing on one good leg and still making an impact -- his third-quarter touchdown reception giving the Trojans breathing room at 29-10? Or making like Michael Vick on a reverse play to buy time before completing a pass for a 23-yard gain? The Biletnikoff Award should be signed, sealed and delivered to Williams right now.

-- Jim Rhode

COUNTERPOINT: It's difficult to argue against or discredit Williams, but let me throw two words at you: Larry Fitzgerald. Pittsburgh's sophomore receiver set an NCAA record Saturday for consecutive games with a touchdown reception (14). He leads the nation in yards receiving (1,174), yards receiving per game (146.75) and touchdown receptions (16). In less than two seasons, he has 28 touchdown receptions. Remarkable. But when you get down to it, this is what separates Fitzgerald from Williams: his supporting cast doesn't rival that of Williams. The Trojans have options on offense and they have a better delivery man in Matt Leinart. The Panthers? They have Larry Fitzgerald. He's a marked man from week to week, making his accomplishments even more incredible.

-- Jay Christensen

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