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Top 70 MAC Football Players: #5 Tajae Sharpe (WR- Massachusetts Minutemen)


Bob DeChiara (USA TODAY Sports)

They say behind every great man is a greater woman. Well, behind every great quarterback is a greater wide receiver. We already ran down the accolades in line for Blake Frohnapfel, but Frohnapfel wouldn't be able to put up such gaudy numbers if not for his number 1 receiver: Tajae Sharpe.

If you didn't hear about Tajae Sharpe until his breakout season in 2014, it wouldn't be a surprise. Stuck on a team that trotted out quarterbacks that wouldn't be backups on most MAC teams, Sharpe was never given a chance to succeed. Enter: Blake Frohnapfel, and a season to remember. Some early growing pains occurred as Sharpe developed a rapport with Frohnapfel: Sharpe only had more than five catches once in the first four games, and never broke 100 yards receiving in those games. Once MAC play began, Sharpe exploded. In the next six games, Sharpe had over five receptions five times and over 100 yards four times. The only times Sharpe no-showed was when UMass broke out to large early leads against Kent State. Meanwhile, his performance against Ball State was a masterstroke: 13 catches, 239 yards. Its like in Madden when you put Calvin Johnson in the slot and just run streaks because no one can stop you: Tajae Sharpe is video game good.

Last season, Sharpe started on Phil Steele's and Athlon Sports preseason All-MAC third team. By seasons end, Sharpe was All-MAC first team. This season, Phil Steel and Athlon Sports knew not to make the same mistake: both named Sharpe to the preseason All-MAC first team. The nation has taken notice as well, as Sharpe is listed on the Biletnikoff award watch list. Even the NFL has taken notice, with some calling Sharpe a mid-round pick.

There are caveats to Sharpe's performance expectations, though. Without Frohnapfel at the helm last season, Sharpe struggled, averaging 4.5 catches and 38.5 yards per game across two games. But as long as Frohnapfel stays healthy, Sharpe has a chance to be the best wide receiver in the MAC.