The American Athletic Conference is home to some the premier offensive players in college football. Davey O’Brien Award hopefuls Shane Buechele and Brady White both offer intriguing upside at the quarterback position, while running back Kenneth Gainwell is lauded as one of the nation’s elite. Then there’s an enticing batch of pass-catchers, led by Memphis’ Damonte Coxie and SMU’s Reggie Roberson Jr. — who isn’t far behind. Both players represent the conference’s upper echelon of wide receiver talent. Still, there is one player in the AAC’s current contingent that hasn’t garnered the recognition that his caliber of play typically warrants: Temple WR Jadan Blue.
Jadan Blue, fresh off an enigmatic record-breaking season at Temple University, will be a player worth bookmarking. Appearing on the Biletnikoff Award and various preseason watch lists entering the 2020 season, Blue is widely expected to use his breakout season as a springboard toward college football relevance.
Temple WR Jadan Blue
High School Phenom
Before emerging as a two-way standout at The Peddie School, a college preparatory school located in Hightstown, N.J., Jadan Blue spent his first three years miring as a wide receiver and defensive back at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, Md.
As a junior, Blue became a known commodity among the high school ranks, recording 47 receptions for 892 yards and nine touchdowns, earning first-team all-state honors. He received an invitation to the Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star Game.
In addition to his gridiron production, Blue also impressed as a two-sport phenom. Within his three years participating in track and field, Blue became a three-time 4×200 champion and first-team All-MIAA honoree.
In his lone season at The Peddie School, Blue managed to compile 23 receptions for 457 yards and five touchdowns — in just five games. Despite his small sample size, Blue received New Jersey first-team all-prep praise and received first-team Mid-Atlantic Prep League honors.
Although he initially signed a letter of intent to play for Duquesne, Blue ended up bolting for Temple University late in the process.
Blue struggled to gain traction on the gridiron in the early goings. Not unlike many newcomers at his position across the country, Blue was issued the redshirt designation upon arrival.
A renowned two-way playmaker at the high school level, Blue spent his inaugural season on campus transitioning to the wide receiver position. A welcomed addition to the scout team, Blue’s study habits and practice prowess were immediately eminent. The six-foot, 185-pound field-stretcher earned Scout Team Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the practices leading up to games against Notre Dame and Connecticut.
With his first season in the rearview mirror, a productive offseason suggested a potential breakout campaign for the redshirt freshman. While Blue caught three touchdowns in the Cherry and White game, he failed to emerge from the depths of a veteran-laden receiving corps that included Ventell Bryant, Isaiah Wright, and Branden Mack. Instead, he mustered just six touches for 57 yards in limited action.
With the sundial officially running on Blue’s college career, the opportunity to seize a prominent role vacated by Bryant’s departure for the professional ranks was one that the young receiver wouldn’t squander.
While many assumed Blue would fall behind Wright and Mack in the pecking order last season, the resilient pass-catcher had other plans. Separating himself from the talented duo, Blue doubled Wright’s catch total and topped Mack’s receiving output for most yards on the team.
Appearing in 12 games, Blue amassed 95 receptions for 1,067 yards and four touchdowns. In Temple’s four games against ranked opponents, Blue reeled in 26 receptions for 354 yards and a touchdown. In a late-December tilt against North Carolina in the Military Bowl, Blue registered eight catches for 92 yards in what became a one-sided affair in favor of the Tar Heels.
Blue became the first player in Temple’s history to record 1,000 receiving yards. His 95 catches also proved to be a school record. In addition to his prestigious program accolades, Blue earned first-team All-ECAC, second-team All-AAC, and American Athletic Conference All-Academic honors.
Jadan Blue’s 2020 outlook
A seldom-used offensive component merely two seasons ago, Jadan Blue’s rapid ascension transpired in sudden and convincing fashion. The redshirt junior has been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, and was pegged as one of the top 30 players in the American Athletic Conference entering the 2020 season by College Football News. The Biletnikoff Award, of course, is given to the nation’s top receiver.
If the Temple standout is to take the next step towards becoming a household name, Blue will have the luxury of achieving that feat with a familiar supporting cast. Redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Russo returns for the Owls for his final go-around, while Mack reprises his role as Blue’s partner in crime. Together, the talented tandem represents one of the most diverse, and criminally underrated starting combinations in college football.
While Mack possesses the height and high-point skills to flourish in the red zone and contested catch situations, Blue adds explosiveness and big-play ability to the Owls’ aerial attack. Blue can play on the outside or in the slot, and his savvy route running is a sight to behold. The electrifying receiver gets in and out of breaks with little wasted movement and is a chore to bring down after the catch.
If the Owls’ offense continues to fire on all cylinders, Blue could conceivably be a dark horse candidate to win the Biletnikoff Award — which would effectively build a convincing case to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.