We look forward to every spring, because sometimes a void in the depth chart or a coaching change makes players rise to the occasion and emerge as potential impact players. Spring football doesn’t tell us the whole story, but we can begin to piece together emerging players who will play a big part in the 2013 season.
Here’s a look at the SEC West’s spring breakout players.
Obviously it doesn’t touch on all breakout players, but here are a few who made their presence known this spring in the SEC East:
Offense: Tyler Moore, OT
Defense: Marcus Maye, S
The Skinny: Most outside of Florida have never heard of Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore. Moore slid right into the right tackle slot this spring, and the line will get a facelift just from his presence this fall. Marcus Maye may not start at safety the first week, but he had a big spring and flashes tremendous upside. Maye will be an impact player in ‘13.
Offense: Jonathon Rumph, WR
Defense: Tray Matthews, S
The Skinny: Jonathan Rumph had a solid spring up until the G-Day game, where he went off scoring two touchdowns and flashing speed after the catch. The JUCO transfer solidifies a very deep and talented receiving corps. Yeah, I heard all about Josh Harvey-Clemons, but the bigger breakout player was early enrollee Tray Matthews. Matthews and JHC are the next tandem of a strong UGA secondary.
Offense: Jalen Whitlow, QB
Defense: Za’Darius Smith, DE
The Skinny: Jalen Whitlow was thrust into the lineup last season due to Max Smith’s injury and Morgan Newton inability to bust a grape at quarterback. Whitlow, the dual-threat signal caller, excelled this spring in Neal Brown’s new Air Attack system, and he nullified Smith’s passing ability with his scrambling ability. I think Smith wins the starting job. Za’Darius Smith will make a big impact this fall, and he flashed his ability this spring. Smith and Bud Dupree will create a sexy one-two punch at end.
Offense: Maty Mauk, QB
Defense: CB Xavier Smith
The Skinny: Maty Mauk may not have had the best spring game, but he certainly showed the hype was worthy. He won the backup job over Corbin Berkstresser, and the battle for the starting job isn’t over yet. The job opposite corner EJ Gaines is still up for grabs, and Xavier Smith showed up this spring ready to take the job. He flashed his potential in the spring game, and he could win the starting job in fall camp.
Offense: Jerell Adams, TE
Defense: Sharrod Golightly, Spur
The Skinny: I know about Shaq Roland and Shamier Jeffery, but tight end Jerell Adams proved he’s going to be a major weapon this fall. Adams will replace Justice Cunningham, and he’ll be a hybrid receiving threat in Spurrier’s offense. The Spur position was Sharrod Golightly’s to lose entering spring, and he held onto it battling with Jordan Diggs. Golightly replaces DeVonte Holloman in the defensive hybrid role.
Offense: Alden Hill, RB
Defense: Riyahd Jones, DB
The Skinny: Running back Marlin Lane is currently not on the team, and it was important for another running back to step into his place. Alden Hill did just that, and he was the only bright spot for the Vols in the spring game, rushing for 100 yards. JUCO transfer Riyahd Jones must improve this summer and on into fall camp, but he cemented himself into a starting role into Tennessee’s 2012 porous secondary.
Offense: Kris Kentera, TE
Defense: Vince Taylor, DT
The Skinny: Several positions were already decided entering spring for the Dores, but tight end is one that is not. Kris Kentera ran with the first team this spring, and he showed some big upside over the last four weeks of practice, including two catches in the spring game. The thinnest position for the Dores’ defense lies along the defensive line at tackle, and Vince Taylor stepped up this spring. Taylor will be a big factor this fall.
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