Predicting the SEC East’s spring breakout players
Spring is the time when new faces emerge for every team. Hopefully, with a splash this spring, these players can make impacts during the 2015 season. Another spring of growth and development can do wonders for players and programs.
We project the SEC East’s spring breakout stars:
Florida Gators: JC Jackson, WR/DB
One of the most elite prospects in the 2014 signing class, JC Jackson missed his freshman season due to a shoulder injury he suffered in high school. Obviously, Will Muschamp signed Jackson as a defensive back, but he could become an impact wide receiver, as there have been rumblings from within the program that he could be switched to the position. No matter what position he plays, Jackson has All-SEC ability, and he’ll become Florida’s breakout player this spring.
Georgia Bulldogs: Reggie Carter, LB
With Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson now gone, the Bulldogs need impact players at inside linebacker. Reggie Carter will become just that this spring. Carter has made 36 tackles in two seasons, but he was playing behind two veterans. Carter should emerge as the Bulldogs’ top choice to replace Herrera and Wilson this fall. Herrera and Wilson combined for 225 tackles in 2014.
Kentucky Wildcats: Jason Hatcher, DE/OLB
Kentucky fans sure hope this spring features Jason Hatcher. Now that Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith are gone, this will be Hatcher’s time to shine at defensive end. He played in 11 games last season, making just 28 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss. For Kentucky’s defense to take a step forward, Hatcher needs to have a breakout season and become a premier pass rusher. He’s athletic enough to play the hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position. Hatcher was a huge signee for the Cats in 2013, and it’s now time for him to develop.
Missouri Tigers: Nate Brown, WR
It’s officially Nate Brown’s time to shine for Missouri, and he’ll steal the headlines this spring. Brown is the next great Missouri wide receiver, and he’ll become Maty Mauk’s premier target during spring practice. The rising sophomore caught five passes for 45 yards this past season, but he should solidify himself this spring as a starter and go-to receiver.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Deebo Samuel, WR
With Pharoh Cooper returning, South Carolina returns its best wide receiver. However, there’s not much around Cooper to help take the load off. Deebo Samuel could be that player. He redshirted in 2014, and he’s ready to stand out this spring. The former three-star wide receiver is ready to play a big role in 2015.
Tennessee Volunteers: Jack Jones, OT
Tennessee fans have only heard of Jack Jones, but the early enrollee could start immediately along the offensive line. Tennessee needs impact tackles, and Jones could provide help immediately. Jones is 6-5, 300 pounds, and he’ll benefit by going through spring practice. Jones has great feet and good quickness, helping him see the field quickly. While Alvin Kamara will turn heads, we fully expect him to, but Jones will be the talk of the spring.
Vanderbilt Commodores: Trent Sherfield, WR
The Commodores need wide receivers in the worst way, and Trent Sherfield could develop into that guy this spring. Sherfield played in seven games as a true freshman. He was a high school quarterback and safety, but he’s transitioned into a wide receiver for the Commodores. He accounted for 33 touchdowns as a high school senior, and 2015 should be the year Sherfield breaks out. That starts this spring.