In a recent article, I looked at four legitimate underachievers. Now, let’s look at four players that will overachieve in 2011.
1. John Brantley, QB, Florida
Every Florida Gator fan I spoke to post Tim Tebow thought Florida was going to be in great hands with John Brantley taking over…little did they know. Brantley underwhelmed starting in game one, partly because the botched snaps never set him up to be in a position to succeed, but mostly because he was brought in on third-and-long to throw a three-yard out (Steve Addazio at his finest). Florida continued to struggle throughout the year, so much that the Gators used three different quarterbacks at any time. Brantley ended up throwing nine touchdowns, compared to his 10 interceptions. With the change in offense with Charlie Weis, I do think Brantley will improve from a year ago. Many just think backups Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy will have a shot to win this job. I say no. I say Brantley exceeds many expectations this year as the senior quarterback of the Florida Gators. He has a chance to throw for over 3,000 yards this season and take this Gator offense to another level.
2. Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU
Jordan Jefferson is another quarterback that fans continue to write off. Many say Zach Mettenberger will be the quarterback after the first game of the year; however, I think Jordan Jefferson is ready to step into his big cleats he’s been operating in for the past couple of years. Les Miles saw Jefferson grow during spring ball, and nothing led Miles to say that Mettenberger will be the quarterback upon the first sign of Jefferson struggling. Jefferson could have a monster year, because he certainly looks to have the receivers and the running game to do it. You know this defense will keep LSU in games.
3. Morgan Newton, QB, Kentucky
Morgan Newton will show Kentucky fans what he was recruited to be from Indiana. Newton is big body at 6-4, 240. He has a veteran offensive line that Joker Phillips will rely on throughout this season. He will have time to throw, and I expect the running game to be good enough to help take some pressure off Newton’s passing game. He has one of the highest talent ceilings of any quarterback in the SEC right now. He just needs to learn the offense better and really be a leader for the Wildcats.
4. Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn
You may wonder why Michael Dyer is even on this list. However, the Auburn Tigers are picked to finish fourth on any given preseason prediction list. Dyer is expected to have a less than decent offensive line, too. However, Gus Malzahn will find ways for Dyer to be very effective. Remember, Malzahn led the 2009 Tigers team to score over 33 points per game with a very average quarterback. Now, they have a dynamic running game with Dyer in the backfield, and I really expect Dyer to have more yards, touchdowns and be better overall than what people expect in 2011.