10 SEC Football Players Who will Disappoint in 2013
10 SEC Football Players Who Will Disappoint in 2013
With the college football season little more than one week away, SEC predictions are buzzing around in the humid late-summer air more than mosquitoes. Quite frankly, some of these prognostications are just as irritating as the pesky blood-sucking bugs. At least they don’t leave your skin itching – though they might make your skin crawl.
Whether you love or hate preseason predictions, there are certainly plenty of them and they aren’t going away any time soon. There’s division race predictions, conference title predictions, breakout star predictions, most likely to continue the BCS Championship streak predictions, Heisman hopefuls, coaching hot seats, and on and on and on. And writers and analysts continue to spout them off, year after year, knowing the vast majority will be proven wrong when the games are actually played.
Speaking of proving wrong, there’s one more important list of predictions to add to the list: players most likely to disappoint and fall short of expectations for 2013. Everyone loves to speculate about which players could surprise everyone by transforming from scrub to star in an electrifying breakout season (see Johnny Manziel 2012 for a perfect example). But we cannot forget about the players who we expect to have monster years, but fail to live up to the hype. It’s going to happen every year. Fans just hope it’s not one of their guys.
So without further ado… take a look at the 10 SEC players most likely to fall short of their expectations in 2013. You’ll be shocked at who tops this list.
Tyler Russell (QB, Mississippi State)
Russell has improved incrementally in each of the last few seasons, but he really struggled against the upper-level teams last season after leading MSU to a 7-0 start. Folks in Starkville are expecting him to leap forward in his senior season and become one of the top quarterbacks in the league. That won't be easy, considering the schedule. Mississippi State plays five ranked teams in Oklahoma State, LSU, at South Carolina, at Texas A&M and Alabama, and those last three fall in consecutive weeks in November. Russell will also have to do it without his three best receivers from a season ago. Don’t get your hopes up Bulldog’s fans.
Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Missouri)
The former top national recruit caught just 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman last season – not exactly what folks in Columbia were expecting. Many feel this season DGB will blossom into the star he was touted to be; however, there’s a couple reasons for concern. First of all, he will need someone to step up as a threat on the other side of the field, with the graduation of Missouri's other star receiver, T.J. Moe. Otherwise, he will just see double-teams and umbrella coverage all season, stifling his ability to get open and make plays. Second, his quarterback, James Franklin, is coming off his worst season in college and barely retained the starting job in fall camp, so consistent play at QB might be a problem for Missouri. Finally, the Tigers will have to run the ball, something they could not do last season, to keep defenses honest.
Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley has been solid so far in his career at Florida, but the No. 1-rated player at his position is expected to be a dominant, disruptive force inside for the Gators this season. Last year, Easley made fewer contributions than several Florida defenders: DT Sharrif Floyd, LB Jon Bostic, LB Jelani Jenkins and S Matt Elam. Those guys are gone, so Easley will now have to be the stud on the unit in his senior season. Many think he will, as he is listed on more than few Preseason All-SEC Teams. But he just hasn’t done enough to prove he has the goods to be a big star in this league.
Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Evans was a Freshman All-SEC selection who started all 13 games for the Aggies last season, leading the team with 82 catches for 1,105 yards. Those marks were both A&M freshman records. He also scored five touchdowns and averaged 85.2 yards per game, with three 100-yard performances last fall. This year, the secret’s out, and you can bet SEC defensive coordinators will be keying on Evans, sending multiple defenders and blanketing coverages his way. Who knows how much further his production could drop should his quarterback, Johnny Manziel, be ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Jeff Scott (RB, Ole Miss)
Scott has been a very dynamic threat for the Rebels, and is coming off a junior season that saw him rush for 846 yards and also catch 23 passes. He runs bigger than his 5-foot-7, 170-pound frame and has the breakaway speed that turns one missed tackle into a touchdown. The question: can that frame sustain the beating week in and week out as a feature back in the grueling SEC? Scott may put up similar numbers, but he could be limited by injuries, so having a monster season seems unlikely.
Nick Marshall (QB, Auburn)
We’ve seen this story before. Athletic junior college quarterback joins Auburn to run Gus Malzahn’s high-octane offense, getting a chance at redeeming a dismissal from another SEC school. The comparisons to Cam Newton, despite Marshall’s attempts to be different, are there, and will probably be rehashed all season. It’s nice to be likened to a former Heisman Trophy winner and national champion, but with that comparison comes immense pressure to perform and win – two things not many have done at Auburn recently. Anything will be better than last year for the Tigers, as far as quarterback play is concerned, but there are still lots of questions about the players around Marshall on this offense. He won’t be able to succeed without some help.
Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Many will shake their head at Clowney’s inclusion. In fact, a little voice in my head is telling me to pull the plug on this. But I’ll ignore it and push on. Why? Because he’s the odds-on preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Sure, defensive players have played their way to New York in the past, but I can’t remember one ever entering the season as the favorite to win the award. Clowney is also projected to be the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick in 2014. He’s certainly a dangerous pass-rusher who can change the game in one play, but is there any way he can live up to these expectations? If he proves me wrong, he will have earned it, as every single Gamecocks opponent’s offensive blocking scheme will center on No. 7 and work from there.
Jeff Driskel (QB, Florida)
Driskel has all the tools, and many feel he’s a strong candidate to be one of the most improved players in the league and have a breakout junior season. Well, it’s not going to happen. The Gators still need to play much better around him. The offensive line is a big question mark, Florida lost running back Mike Gillislee and the Gators’ top receiver, Andre DuBose, will miss the season with a knee injury. At this point, the expectation that Driskel will have a monster year is simply too lofty.
Robert Nkemdiche (DE, Ole Miss)
Freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is expected to make a Johnny Manziel- or Jadeveon Clowney-like impact for the Rebels this fall. It might not be extremely fair to put that kind of pressure on the youngster, but when you're the consensus No. 1 high school recruit and have the physical ability to compete in the SEC immediately, it comes with the territory. Unfortunately, what also comes with the territory is going against some of the biggest, strongest and toughest offensive tackles in college football. Nkemdiche will likely face off against the two top tackles in the league: Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. He won’t be able to throw these boys around like he did in high school.
Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
As the returning Heisman Trophy-winner and SEC single-season offense record-breaker, it seems there’s nowhere to go but down for Johnny Football. He’s carrying an immense load of pressure to repeat last year’s success and lead Texas A&M into SEC and BCS Championship contention, all the while enduring unprecedented scrutiny about his character following some offseason antics. But that’s not the worst of it for Manziel this season, as he will also have to face some very good SEC defensive units and top-notch coordinators who now have the benefit of facing him a second time. The odds are heavily stacked against Manziel mustering the same level of magic he did last season, assuming he even gets to play, that is.