This post continues a series picking an All-Decade Team. Over the summer, we'll be honoring the best players Carolina has had at each position over the past ten years. We'll also give shout-outs to some of the other memorable players we've had. In our last three installments of this series, I picked Ryan Succop as our top placekicker, Spencer Lanning as our punter, Marcus Lattimore (with an honorable mention to Cory Boyd) as our runningback, and Jared Cook at tight end.
Today, we're talking wide receivers. Carolina has been a minor hotbed for WRs in recent years; WR might be the most prolific offensive position at Carolina over this period. Here are some of the more notable WRs who have played for us:
2001: Brian Scott, Ryan Brewer (I might have to create a separate category for this guy, who also played a bit of RB)
2002: Brewer, Michael Ages, Troy Williamson
2003: Williamson, Matthew Thomas, Syvelle Newton (another guy who probably deserves a category to himself)
2004: Williamson, Noah Whiteside
2005: Sidney Rice, Newton, Kenny McKinley
2006: Rice, McKinley
2007: McKinley, Dion LeCorn
2008: McKinley, Moe Brown, Jason Barnes
2009: Alshon Jeffery, Tori Gurley, Brown
2010: Jeffery, Gurley, Ace Sanders
The guys that really stand out for me out of this group are Rice, McKinley, and Jeffery. Honorable mentions go to Scott and Williamson, the latter being the highest-drafted Gamecock of the past 10 years; correct me if I'm wrong on that. How to pick two from Rice, McKinley, and Jeffery, though? To me, Jeffery is the most obvious choice, for the sheer fact of being the most talented player in this group. Jeffery gets the nod for being the guy you'd want on your team out of this group, in other words. Plus, his actual production is quite impressive, even if he only has two years under his belt, as his 2010 performance was among the best in the country and netted him first-team All-America honors. We haven't had too many of those over the years. Jeffery will enter this season as a solid threat to win Biletnikoff honors.
Picking between Rice and McKinley isn't as easy. On the other hand, McKinley has the more impressive career numbers, owning most Carolina career receiving records after playing an integral role in the offense for his entire four years. On the other hand, Rice is the better talent, having enjoyed two 1000-yard seasons and a productive career as a young professional. For that reason, I'm going with Rice, as my general philosophy towards this All-Decade Team is that I want the very best players at each position, other than in cases like Demetris Summers where you're talking about a guy who had talent but never did much on the field for various reasons. McKinley will always have a special place in our hearts, though, for his dedication to Carolina over the course of his career, as well as his tragic death.
So, who would you pick?
Follow the jump to watch a couple of videos.
Sidney Rice Gets a Foot In Against Arkansas (via uscfan720)
Brian Scott TD vs. UGA (2001) (via gocarolina528)
That Rice catch still gets me every time. Even if the game ended in a loss, that was an unbelievable play.