In 2014, the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. practically made the “No Fun League” fun again, and he did it with one hand behind his back. Literally.
Beckham’s one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12, seen by a national audience on Sunday Night Football, is not only considered one of the best grabs of all-time (let’s not forget that, in addition to making the catch while falling down, he was being interfered with), it also helped usher in a new era for wide receivers – not just in the pros, but at seemingly every level of the game.
Since ODB’s remarkable catch, high school and college wideouts across the country have begun an informal competition to see who can make the most jaw-dropping grab, populating YouTube, Vine and Instagram with athletic, acrobatic clips that – while wholly unnecessary – are enough to give even the most stoic of football traditionalists pause. And if the trend continues, perhaps one day we’ll all be tuning in to the Pro Bowl Skills Competition to watch the NFL’s best pass-catchers strut their stuff, a la the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. Heck, give the winner the ODB Award for Excellence.
And if that day ever comes, these young athletes might be the guys vaulting their way to the top of the contest. Here are 10 of the best flipping catches you’ll ever see:
10. Moses Ellis Jr.
This one actually predates Beckham’s grab by two years, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive – especially when you consider that Ellis actually played defensive back Prairie View A&M. Sadly, he didn’t realize his dream of playing in the NFL (he was most recently in the Indoor Football League), but could he be the Godfather of the backflip catch?
Beckham Grade: OD-Before-it-was-cool.
9. Jace James
Despite its optimistic title, this flip-catch by James, now a junior at Glenbard North High School in Illinois, did not go viral like the rest. A critic could say that it lacks the wow factor of some of the other grabs on the list, but let’s see any of them pull it off. While wearing neon, nonetheless.
Beckham Grade: Odell Beckham slow-clap.
8. Justice Murphy
A three-star recruit out of Washington, Murphy is committed to play at Wyoming next season, but it was over a year ago when he Cowboy’d Up with this this leaping, backflipping, snag-the-ball-then-fall grab. It deserves a place on this list for being ahead of the trend, and for the fact that he’s running a route.
Beckham Grade: Odell, well done.
7. “Tony C”
The C stands for “Catch of the Century.” The only non-football player on the list, and the only one to use a trampoline (cheat), this acrobatic mid-air, one-handed grab of a long-distance throw deserves points for creativity and level of difficulty. The fact that it made it onto SportsNation is testament to its greatness, if only for the fact that Tony didn’t break his leg like we all expected.
Beckham Grade: ODB #Cheatcode
— ❌ Graham Nabity (@Gnabbs116) May 29, 2015
6. Ty Betka
After spending two seasons at Drake, Betka walked on as a receiver at Nebraska last fall. At just 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, and with little to show on his resume, Betka still faces a long uphill battle for in-game relevancy in Lincoln, but he’s certainly making a name for himself on Instagram. Still, the flip itself is straight-on, and the extra flips are unnecessary.
Beckham Grade: OK-DB, Jr.
5. Jenson Stoshak
Stoshak caught 37 passes as a junior at Florida Atlantic University last year, but he makes three grabs in a row right here – with a backflip on each for posterity – and makes it all look so relatively easy. I could do without the goofy dude at the end, though.
Beckham Grade: OD-Been there, done that.
4. Marco Wilson
Wilson is slated to go play football for the Florida Gators in not one, but two years from now. Only 16 years old, the sophomore at American Heritage High School takes the “flip catch” and turns it on its head by taking the ball at an angle and with only one hand.
Beckham Grade: OD-hell yeah.
3. Tarik Cohen
As a sophomore at North Carolina A&T, Cohen hauled in 25 passes for 237 yards last season (he also ran for 15 scores), but you can bet none were as amazing as this backflip catch. Cohen takes the difficult level up a notch by already holding onto one ball as he makes the grab.
Beckham Grade: At your Beckham call.
2. Nigel Knott
Knott is barely 17 years old, but he’s already catching the ball like a full-grown man (with a background in Parkour). In what could be dubbed “The Spider-Man Catch,” Knott runs up a wall, flips upside down, makes the grab and sticks the landing. Yet Knott is mulling offers from Oregon, Alabama, FSU and others as a cornerback, not a wide receiver. Opposing quarterbacks at the next level beware: Any time you throw it in Knott’s direction, he may flip turn upside down quicker than Will Smith moving to Bel-Air and make the pick.
Beckham Grade: O-damn, Get ’em.
1. Nyheim Hines
Another high school player doing things that would be incomprehensible if we didn’t see it with our own eyes, the senior is committed to play at NC State in the fall. If he ever makes a catch in a game like the 720-spinner shown in this video though, it will be a highlight for the ages.
Beckham Grade: He went Beck-HAM!