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.
Obviously it doesn’t touch on all breakout players, but here are a few who made their presence known this spring in the SEC West:
Offense: Derrick Henry, RB
Defense: Landon Collins, DB
The Skinny: Although Derrick Henry missed the spring game due to a broken leg, he was one of the Alabama’s most impressive players this spring. He’ll be a key factor in the Tide’s running game this fall. Landon Collins also had a strong spring, and he was one of Alabama’s most improved players. Collins could emerge as the other safety opposite HaHa Clinton-Dix, deemed too good to keep off the field.
Offense: Jonathan Williams, RB
Defense: Braylon Mitchell, LB
The Skinny: It was just a matter of time before Jonathan Williams started doing great things. In minimal playing time last season, Williams flashed his incredible potential, and he showed out this spring. Junior linebacker Braylon Mitchell spent most of his time at Arkansas on special teams, struggling to crack the backer rotation. But he ran with the first team this spring, and he should be a consistent impact performer this fall.
Offense: Cameron Artis-Payne, RB
Defense: Justin Garrett, Star
The Skinny: The Cameron Artis-Payne-Tre Mason duo should be a sexy combo, and CAP broke out this spring after enrolling at the mid-term. He was the A-Day offensive MVP and will be an impact player this fall. Future stud Justin Garrett’s impact at Ellis Johnson’s Star position will be fun to watch. Garrett was the leader of the Tigers’ defense this spring, and he’ll be a leader this fall.
Offense: Terrence Magee, RB
Defense: DJ Welter, LB
The Skinny: Terrance Magee gives LSU not one, not two, not three but four legit running backs, much like years’ past. Magee spent time as a receiver last season, and he will be a running and receiving threat in the Tigers’ backfield this fall. DJ Welter only played one game for the Tigers in 2012, thanks to an academic suspension. Now, he’s slated as the first-team middle linebacker replacing All-American Kevin Minter. Welter’s emergence allows Lamin Barrow to stay as an outside backer for now.
Offense: Jameon Lewis, WR
Defense: Ryan Brown, DE
The Skinny: The speedy Jameon Lewis looks like he’ll step in and replace Chad Bumphis from day one. Lewis combines with Joe Morrow and Robert Johnson to create a triple threat in the receiving corps. Ryan Brown was a pleasant surprise this spring after playing minimal minutes in 2012. Brown’s emergence gives the MSU defensive line much more depth next fall.
Offense: Mark Dodson, RB
Defense: DT Shackelford, LB/DE
The Skinny: One of Ole Miss’ spring concerns was replacing running back Randall Mackey. One early enrollee who proved worthy is Mark Dodson. The 5-10, 195-pound back earned carries next fall and progressively got better this spring. Okay, so maybe DT Shackelford isn’t a “breakout” player, but after missing the last two seasons, he proved he would be a factor next fall. He may not start, and he may not put up massive numbers, but his leadership alone will be key for a veteran-filled defense.
Offense: Brandon Williams, RB
Defense: Floyd Raven, S
The Skinny: Brandon Williams flashed his potential in front of the home spring game crowd, rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown, along with catching one touchdown pass. What’s not to like about the Aggies’ running game in 2013? Floyd Raven slid from cornerback to safety this spring, so maybe he’s not exactly an unknown breakout player. But with Raven changing positions, he showed he’s more than capable of being a big-time SEC safety and help solidify the Aggies’ secondary.
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