Every year players take full advantage of larger roles and their stat line certainly shows it. Whether these guys were on the cusp of breaking out or were relatively unknown, their names will be known nationwide for all the right reasons.
9. WR Kasen Williams (Washington, Junior)
He somewhat broke out as a sophomore with 77 receptions for 878 yards and six touchdowns, but this year Williams will put a clinic on Pac-12 corners. The 6-2 and 216-pound receiver will significantly improve from a rebound year from QB Keith Price who went from 33 PaTD to 19 PaTd. Williams can see a year similar to former receiver Jermaine Kearse’s junior season.
8. WR Jarrod West (Syracuse, Junior)
With the losses of WRs Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales, Jarrod West has had the opportunity to become the Orange’s main receiver. Supposedly West has been “wowing” this offseason and is ready for the jump, despite not knowing who the QB will be. Last season he caught 43 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns as the number third guy, that’ll certainly improve this year.
7. WR Quinshad Davis (North Carolina, Sophomore)
The big 6-4 receiver stepped up last year as the Tar Heels leading receiver but will take on an even larger role this season. In 2012 he totaled 61 receptions, 776 yards and five touchdowns. This fall without Giovani Bernard, UNC will depend more on senior QB Bryn Renner’s arm and Davis will be the benefactor as his favorite target.
6. QB Terrance Broadway (LALAF, Junior)
Every ESPN analyst was excited to get the chance to say his name last year, and this year they will be forced to. Last year the Rajin’ Cajun demonstrated his potential with four games of 300 passing yards or more, he ended up with 2,842 and 17 touchdowns. With more confidence in Broadway, he’ll be given the green light and easily break 3,000 passing yards and convert between 25-30 touchdowns.
5. WR TommyLee Lewis (Northern Illinois, Junior)
With the absence of Martel Moore it’s TommyLee Lewis time as the speedy 5-7 and 155-pound is placed in an ideal situation to breakout. Last season Lewis caught 48 balls for 539 yards and five touchdowns and will look to double that this season with an improved and feared Jordan Lynch. Lewis also added 589 kick return yards and a touchdown proving he’s a threat on special teams. Look for the elusive receiver to appear on Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays.
4. RB Akeem Hunt (Purdue, Junior)
Hunt is another guy who will take over the starting role in 2013. The Georgia native averaged eight yards per carry totaling 335 yards and two touchdowns. Hunt is extremely fast and can do a lot of damage with at least 15 carries per game (1,000+ yards). Expect Brandan Cottom to steal his goal line carries, and rightfully so.
3. QB Erik Soza (UTSA, Senior)
Last season Soza led the Roadrunners to a successful FBS debut. Despite missing two games (which they lost), he gained 2,085 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and just three picks. Also, on the ground he showed off some speed with 364 yards and six touchdowns. He is the glue to the young program and will be able to develop in his last year while flirting with 3,000 yards and 35 total touchdowns.
2. RB Jay Ajayi (Boise State, Sophomore)
Ajayi is one of the players I’m most excited to watch next season.. Last season Ajayi covered 548 yards and four touchdowns on 82 attempts. He specifically displayed his physical prowess and breakaway speed against New Mexico when he took six carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. With D.J. Harper out of the picture Ajayi will at least double his carries and see over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
1. RB Brendan Bigelow (Cal, Junior)
In the small sample that was 2012 for Bigelow, he took 44 carries for 431 yards (9.8 avg) and three touchdowns. He flashed his potential against Ohio State when he amounted 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Next season with the help of Pierre Ingram, the explosive RB will help carry the offense and show off his breakaway speed for an exciting season of 1,000+ yards and some long touchdowns.