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Where does Jayden Reed rank all time among MSU receivers?

Jayden Reed had an elite MSU career.

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Jayden Reed
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Where does Jayden Reed rank all time among Michigan State wide receivers after an impressive three-year career?

With Jayden Reed’s NFL destination and draft slot official, I wanted to take the time to acknowledge his tremendous career at Michigan State. What better way to do that than with a completely made-up list that exists (until now) exclusively in my head.

In all seriousness, I did spend quite a bit of time putting this list together. There’s no formula or specific data point I’m valuing more than another. I’m doing my best to combine statistics, overall impact, team wins, era of play, and about a hundred other different qualities.

The great thing about lists is if you have a disagreement, make your own list.

Here are my top 20 wide receiver rankings all time at Michigan State.

  1. Charles Rogers
  2. Kirk Gibson
  3. Andre Rison
  4. Plaxico Burress
  5. B.J. Cunningham
  6. Gene Washington
  7. Courtney Hawkins
  8. Jayden Reed
  9. Tony Lippett
  10. Aaron Burbridge
  11. Derrick Mason
  12. Keshawn Martin
  13. Gari Scott
  14. Felton Davis
  15. Mark Ingram
  16. Mark Dell
  17. Eugene Byrd
  18. Matt Trannon
  19. Blair White
  20. Devin Thomas

As you can see, I have Jayden Reed No. 8 overall behind his receivers coach Courtney Hawkins. I never really considered putting Reed into that top tier of four players. That’s a special group that will be very difficult for anyone to crack. Many are surprised to learn that B.J. Cunningham is MSU’s all-time leader in receptions and yards. Gene Washington was a two time All-American on national championship teams in 1965 and 1966.

In all honesty, I was surprised at how high I ended up putting Reed. But the more I looked into it, the more I was reminded of just how impactful he was. With the 2020 season shortened, and his injury in 2022, Reed only appeared in 31 games at MSU. Despite that, he ranks fifth all time in receptions, 12th in yardage, and seventh in touchdowns. He also has the punt return impact that a lot of other guys on the list don’t have.

The similarities between Hawkins and Reed are striking. Hawkins only appeared in 30 games, and finished his career with 11 fewer catches, but 141 more yards. Both players returned punts as well during their time at MSU. I gave the slightest nod to Hawkins because of the era he played in. Because it was before I was born, I never watched Hawkins. But it goes without saying that the ball is thrown much more frequently now than it was in the 1980s.

I came into this exercise thinking Reed would be somewhere behind Aaron Burbridge and Tony Lippett. I ended up putting him ahead of both of those players because I was reminded that those two guys had the benefit of playing on some of the best Michigan State teams we’ve seen. They were a huge part of that, obviously.

But I felt like the rising tide lifts all boats. When you think of those teams from 2013-2015, you think of the defense and the running game. Reed’s time at MSU will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the one season with Kenneth Walker III. But Walker was also the only reason that Reed wasn’t Michigan State’s best offensive player for three years in a row. He was an integral part of the 2021 MSU team that won 11 games out of nowhere. That counts significantly towards his legacy as well.

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