Out of the spotlight
We all know who the very important players are going to be for the Oregon Ducks during the 2013 college football season. Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas are sure to steal most of the camera time, and they’re likely to be the catalysts for another successful season.
But while those guys are looked at as sure things at this stage in the game, there are a handful of players flying under the radar who could prove to have a huge impact once the year officially kicks off.
Very rarely do centers get credit at the collegiate level. However, when the Ducks run the ball as often as they do, having an enforcer up front makes all the difference.
Hroniss Grasu, a 6’3”, 294-pound junior, is the anchor of an outstanding offensive line. Having the ability to keep up with the skill positions is a skill all in its own, and Grasu has shown he can do just that as he’s continued to master the system.
Also on the offensive line, Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher will be impact players—players who someday might be starting at the NFL level.
If you’ve never heard of Tony Washington, you’re not alone. But while Washington is fairly unnoticed at this point in his career, it has far more to do with the fact that he’s been playing behind Dion Jordan, who was selected third overall during the 2013 NFL draft.
Washington played extensive minutes in the Fiesta Bowl, which bodes well for his chances as a starter. Incoming freshman Torrodney Prevot will challenge for the spot, but when it comes down to it, Washington should be the guy.
Terrance Mitchell is flying under Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s radar.
Terrance Mitchell may not be as far under the radar as others on this list, but the truth is that he’s being greatly looked over because of fellow cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is the No. 1 corner in the entire country entering the season, according to ESPN’s Rod Gilmore. Even Avery Patterson has earned more attention in some circles because of his big-play ability.
But while Mitchell isn’t always going to steal the spotlight, he is going to help make the Ducks’ secondary one of the best in the entire country.
Like Mitchell, Byron Marshall is hardly the prototype of an under-the-radar player. He’s almost a lock to become the team’s every-down back, and following his freshman season, the potential is there for him to be a huge presence in his first year as a starter.
But while all of those things are true about the sophomore, the fact is that everybody wants to talk about De’Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner when it comes to the team’s tailbacks.
Thomas is one of the top playmakers in all of college football, and he’s bound to be a Heisman candidate throughout the year. Thomas Tyner is one of the most highly anticipated freshman in recent memory, and he’s already begun stealing the spotlight before ever stepping on the turf at Autzen Stadium.
Marshall may be the third-most talked about back on the roster at this point, but don’t be surprised if he launches himself to the top of that list by the time the season comes to an end.
According to popular belief, the Ducks will be throwing the ball more under Mark Helfrich. This makes the growth and development of Josh Huff that much more important, especially considering he’s yet to make the leap as a No. 1 option.
Health has been a slight problem for Huff in the past, and it will surely be a factor in his success moving forward. If he can stay healthy, you’re looking at a guy who is capable of putting up All-Pac-12 numbers.
Compared to recent big names at WR, Huff is truly flying under the radar. He caught seven touchdowns through the air, but he’s hardly mentioned among the likes of Marquis Lee of the USC Trojans.
Huff has a chance to separate himself in his senior year, and if he does, people will know it by the end of the regular season.
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