It’s true; every player is worth watching, but let’s point to six who are interesting for very different reasons.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Sometimes, as a player, there are just teams you perform better against than others. And for Clowney, Georgia and Clemson are two he’s very comfortable dominating against. Two years ago, Clowney threw Aaron Murray around like a rag doll, forcing a scoop-and-score for Melvin Ingram, and he recorded a sack in last year’s blowout win. Knowing he had a lackluster first week, how will Clowney respond? I look for him to have a major-impact game.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, DB, Georgia: The much-anticipated 2013 debut of safety/linebacker hybrid Josh Harvey-Clemons is just a day away. He played mostly special teams in 2012, and he missed playing in the Clemson game due to a suspension. How will Todd Grantham best use his talents? JHC is expected to be a breakout candidate in the SEC and a major contributor at safety. Can he help patch up the Bulldogs’ defense? I’m looking forward to watching him play.
Matt Jones, RB, Florida: The Gators opened the season without top running back Matt Jones, who had a preseason illness that caused him to lose about 10 pounds. Jones, like JHC, makes his hyped debut as Florida’s featured back replacing Mike Gillislee. The 6-2, 225-pound Jones will start, but we’ll see what type of affect the illness has on his stamina. Expect Florida to get 15 carries minimum from Jones, as well as bring in Mack Brown, who rushed for two touchdowns last week.
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri: Speaking of returning running backs, Mizzou’s Henry Josey returned last week from his 2011 nasty knee injury. Josey rushed for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns in ‘11, but he returned with a purpose last week with 113 yards on 13 carries, including a 68-yard TD run. It’s great to see him back and looking healthy. Josey looks to become the SEC’s biggest comeback player for 2013.
Related: The thrilling return of Henry Josey
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn: Marshall had a lackluster start for Auburn. He finished 10 of 19 for 99 yards, but the key stat isn’t the passing yards; it’s the turnovers – zero. He accounted for 20 INTs last year in JUCO, and Gus Malzahn will make sure that doesn’t happen, certainly in week one. But Marshall needs to play looser and find some touch on his short passes. If the Tigers can develop Marshall’s passing game, Auburn could win eight games. Let’s see if Marshall’s second start is better than his first.
Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee: Tennessee’s hybrid offensive player has found a home in Butch Jones’ offense. Neal’s versatility allows him to play running back and receiver, and he’s the perfect weapon for Jones to build his offense around. He rushed for 141 yards and scored a TD last week against Austin Peay. He added one catch for seven yards. Expect Neal to be a big part of the game plan this week against Western Kentucky.
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