Now or never: Five SEC East seniors who must step up in 2013

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“It’s now or never.”

What a classic line in a classic song by Bon Jovi that in essence describes several players and hopeful late senior bloomers around college football.

With each of the following five players, it’s something different. Three of the five were top prospects exiting high school who have yet to live up to their hype, while the other two hope they will save their best for last.

It’s now or never for these five SEC East performers:

Andre Debose, WR, Florida: Florida’s receiver situation will be a question mark for two straight years. Nah, check that, Florida hasn’t had a legitimate threat at wide receiver since 2009. Dubbed the next ‘Percy Harvin’ was an unfair comparison for Andre Debose, after seeing Harvin was one of the most explosive athletes to ever lace ‘em up. Debose has totaled just 29 catches for 543 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons. That’s one season for solid receivers. Debose’s biggest impact has come on kick returns, and he’s returned 58 for 1,592 yards and a school-record four touchdowns. Could Debose finally be the homerun threat Florida needs? We’ve been saying that for three years now…

Dominique Easley, DL, Florida: Former five-star Dominique Easley has had solid years for Florida, but he has yet to blow up into the player Florida anticipated. He’s shown flashes, and he even led the Gators with four sacks last season. Easley has played both end and tackle in three years, and he has one of the quickest first steps for any defensive lineman. But Easley has so much more in the tank, and that’s why he returned for his senior season. Florida needs Easley to be a monster in ‘13.

Corey Miller, DE, Tennessee: Exiting high school, Corey Miller was a top-100 prospect who signed with Lane Kiffin. But Miller has just three sacks and nine tackles for loss in three seasons, and he’s been more or less lost in the defensive line rotation, making just four career starts. It’s now or never for Miller, who once again enters 2013 in a backup role. It would be an understatement to say Tennessee needs him to step up as a senior.

Jacques Smith, DE, Tennessee: The former top overall player in Tennessee in Jacques Smith simply hasn’t lived up to the billing yet. Smith came to Tennessee as a defensive end and made the position change to Jack linebacker in Sal Sunseri’s reckless 3-4 defense, and he’s finally back at home as a 4-3 defensive end. The scheme change alone could boost Smith’s numbers. He’s made just 4.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in three years, and he hasn’t blown into the player everyone anticipated. 2013 could be a big year for Smith.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin enters 2013 in a little bit of a different situation than the other four. After having nasty numbers in the Big 12, Franklin has one last shot to revive what the country once thought may be the best dual-threat quarterback in college football. His combined 32 touchdowns seem like a distant memory now, especially with backup Maty Mauk breathing down his neck aiming for his job. It’s do or die time for Franklin and Mizzou’s offense in 2013.

Photo Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

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