SDS has taken a look at all the best players this spring heading into practice. Now, let’s take a look at some of the spring breakout players and which players will get the most ink in the next two months.
Alabama: TE/H-Back OJ Howard
Buzz: Can you imagine a receiving weapon at tight end or H-back for Alabama? That’s what OJ Howard will be in just his first year. Howard will play some tight end, receiver and H-back in ‘13, and he’s a mismatch waiting to happen. With tight end Michael Williams and H-back Kelly Johnson gone, Howard could slide right into either role and become a weapon, not just a role player. His 6-5 frame certainly passes the eye test, but his crazy athletic ability will be too good to keep off the field next year. Howard will be one of the unknowns to impress this spring for Alabama as an early enrollee.
Arkansas: LB Otha Peters
Buzz: Bret Bielema’s biggest strength on defense is the front seven, and last year freshman AJ Turner became one of the best linebackers on the team. Now, it’s time for fellow rising sophomore Otha Peters to become Arkansas’ spring breakout player. Peters made a serviceable 32 tackles in ‘12, and with Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith gone, it bodes well for Turner to make a big splash for his new coach and become Arkansas’ spring breakout player.
Auburn: WR Sammie Coates
Buzz: Auburn needs impact playmakers at wide receiver, and Sammie Coates should be the one to emerge in the playmaker-less position. The lack of receiving production has more to do with the Tigers’ passing game and quarterback than its wide receivers. Coates caught only six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, most notably the Hail Mary against Louisiana-Monroe at halftime. Coates could emerge as the quarterbacks’ primary receiver with Emory Blake now gone.
LSU: OT Ethan Pocic
Buzz: Very rarely do true freshmen offensive tackles push for playing time, much less start. But it’s certainly been done in the past, not only at LSU, but other schools in the SEC. Freshman early enrollee Ethan Pocic could be just that: a spring breakout star who catapults himself into a starting role for 2013. With tackles Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst gone, Pocic has a chance to earn a starting spot day one. Les Miles’ solution could be to move right tackle Vidal Alexander to left tackle and slide Pocic into Alexander’s position. Pocic could prove to be LSU’s top breakout player this spring.
Mississippi State: DT Quay Evans
Buzz: Freshmen defensive tackles rarely make an instant splash in the SEC trenches. And the heralded recruit Quay Evans didn’t exactly have the freshman season he wanted, but he projects well for the future. With Josh Boyd graduated, Evans is the natural to step into that tackle slot. Evans played in 10 games but only totaled seven tackles. He could develop into one of the better tackles in the league by year’s end in 2013. He has a big future.
Ole Miss: DB Nick Brassell
Buzz: Yes. This is the same Nick Brassell who showed how electric he could be with the ball in his hands two years ago. Brassell caught 24 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, along with 21 carries for 133 yards, as a freshman in 2011 before he headed off to JUCO. But Brassell figures to make a bigger impact at a much more needed position at corner. He’s a potential lockdown caliber corner who isn’t afraid to lay the wood on a receiver or ball carrier. Brassell has also proven he can play at this level, and he’ll be the one guy this spring Hugh Freeze can pencil in the starting lineup in 2013.
Texas A&M: RB Brandon Williams
Buzz: Earlier this offseason, I thought freshman running back Trey Williams would be the talk of the spring and emerge as the Aggies’ breakout player. However, due to a sports hernia injury, Williams will miss most of the spring, prompting me to reassess the situation. Aside from Williams, fellow running back transfer Brandon Williams should emerge as the breakout player. Williams transferred from Oklahoma, and he was denied NCAA waiver to play immediately in 2012. And Williams has used the offseason to get bigger, stronger, faster and to learn the Aggies’ spread attack. The addition of Williams and fellow transfer Tra Carson to Ben Malena and Trey Williams gives the Aggies one of the best backfields in the country. And Brandon Williams could be the best out of all four in 2013.
Photo Credit: Chuck Cook – USA TODAY Sports