A total of 12 FBS players have 10 or more touchdown receptions and three are from Group of Five schools. Another three are on the verge of double figures with nine touchdown receptions. There are a total of 19 players who have nine or more touchdown receptions.
So the G5 players have made their mark as clutch receivers.
LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. and Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. have 13 and 12 touchdown receptions, respectively, to earn the top two spots.
North Texas sophomore Ja’Mori Maclin and Utah State’s Jalen Royals are the leaders among G5 schools with 11 touchdown receptions. Rice redshirt junior Luke McCaffrey has 10 touchdown catches.
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North Texas Wide Receiver Ja’Mori Maclin Thriving
Maclin is listed as a sophomore, but this is his fourth season in college football. He spent his first two years at Missouri, playing in three games in 2020 (thus preserving his redshirt status) and missed the 2021 season due to injury.
Then last year, his first at North Texas, he had a modest output in total receptions. In 14 games, including one start, Maclin had 16 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
One indication that better things were on the horizon was that Maclin averaged 23.75 yards per reception, which was second nationally behind teammate Jyaire Shorter.
Maclin, a cousin of former NFL receiver Jeremy Maclin, has 46 receptions for 825 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns this season. He has had three games of two or more touchdown receptions.
His best game came in a 45-14 win at Temple, when he made six catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Utah State Wide Receiver Jalen Royals Breaking Out
Royals is probably the biggest surprise among the trio. After high school, he attended Georgia Military College for a year and then last season, his first at Utah State, he appeared in 12 games and didn’t record any receptions.
That has changed in a big way this season. Royals has 54 catches for 821 yards (15.2 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns.
Royals had seven of those touchdown catches in a three-game stretch. He had seven receptions for 185 yards and three scores in a 33-32 win at UConn. The next week, he had six catches for 140 yards and two scores in a 44-24 home win over Colorado State and then added seven receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-32 home loss to Fresno State.
Rice Wide Receiver Luke McCaffrey Standing Out
McCaffrey, the brother of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, began his career at a different position and a different school. He is a former quarterback, who started his career at Nebraska in 2019.
McCaffrey appeared in four games, preserving his redshirt status in 2019. In 2020, McCaffrey appeared in seven games, making two starts. He completed 48 of 76 passes for 466 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 364 yards and three scores on 65 carries.
He was still a QB in his first season at Rice in 2021, appearing in nine games, making three starts. He threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 132 yards and two scores.
McCaffrey moved to receiver last year and had 58 receptions for 728 yards and six touchdowns. He teamed up with Bradley Rozner to form one of the top WR duos in the country. Rozner had 44 receptions for 876 yards and 10 scores.
Many were anticipating Rozner and McCaffrey to have a big year this season, but during the summer, Rozner transferred to NC State. In 10 games for the Wolfpack, Rozner has 14 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
This season, McCaffrey has 51 receptions for 768 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns. He has at least one receiving touchdown in each of his last five games.
This week, voting for the Biletnikoff Award begins. This award goes to the top FBS receiver. While Harrison appears to be the favorite, it will be interesting how many G5 receivers make it among the top 10 in voting, especially those with double-digit touchdowns.