Five players that could breakout in 2012
Spring is here, and I’m loving it. The temperatures here in England have hit an unusual number for March, and I’m making the most of it. Spring Practice is already underway too, and the tidbits we’re getting seem to be a mixture of positive and negative. Here’s a lowdown on my top 5 guys that could breakout in 2012. (Since I used the word breakout, I’ll be listing guys who were on the roster prior to 2012).
Blackson arrived on campus as an underrated defensive lineman out of Delaware, a “diamond in the rough” if you will. Blackson put on good size in the winter – now standing at 6’4 325, he has a lot of potential that, next season, could take the SEC by storm. In 2011, he played a decent number of snaps, and looked promising at times – including a punt block in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, which resulted in a safety. He played in every game in 2011, in which he collaborated 2 solo tackles and 4 assisted tackles as well as the punt block. It’s tough to become a star tackle in the SEC as a true freshman, but the fact that he was receiving snaps is encouraging.
Blackson is coming along well, and if he can have a solid-great sophomore season, he’ll be a world-class defensive tackle in no time.
Florence is another player that received plenty of snaps in 2011. He played in every game, and had a solid stat line of 16 solo tackles, and 7 assisted tackles. Florence was a highly recruited safety out of Alabama, ranked as the 5th safety in the 2011 class according to Rivals. He had a few nice looks as a freshman, he broke up a few passes and made a few good tackles. He’ll get a shot to start in 2012 alongside fellow Safety DeMetruce McNeal, due to the departure of Neiko Thorpe.
One thing we badly need is some good defensive back play next season, and out of each defensive back currently on the roster, he looks to have the biggest chance to break out in 2012. Florence will have the benefit of working under new defensive back coach Willie Martinez, and if Erique makes the most of this valuable opportunity, he’ll become a star very soon.
Grant has been in the college system for over two years, and has yet to play a single college snap. The former Alabama signee had to sit out last year due to an NCAA transfer rule. He received the Strength And Conditioning award in the offseason, and he now stands at 5’11 and 203 pounds (though I’m not sure his height is legit, he was listed as 5’9 on Bama’s 2010 roster). Grant transferred to Auburn alongside Mike Blakely last spring, who along with Tre Mason and incoming freshman Jovon Robinson, will get the chance to fill the void of outgoing transfer Mike Dyer.
Apart from McCalebb – who will get his appropriate snaps – this years running back race will be an “every man for himself” type of deal. The four guys will compete for the ‘power back’ spot, each of which will get their fair looks in practice. Grant has the size, speed and agility to become a star running back in the SEC, and he’ll get the chance to prove to the coaches that he’s the man ready to take Auburn’s offence to the next level.
‘DLo’ has been on Auburn’s roster for three years, and will be entering his senior year with a chance to end his Auburn career on a high note. A breakout season isn’t out of the question, and even though he’s struggled to find consistent playing time the last three years, he’ll have the benefit of being a senior, which means the coaches will look to him to become a leader. He’s always struggled to get open, both in practice and games, and it’s been the main cause for his lack of playing time.
Benton’s offensive potential is sky high, and if he uses his last offseason properly, he’ll help take the pressure off Blake and Lutzenkirchen, who are both clearly Auburn’s top two receiving options.
Jake enters 2012 as a junior, and has had the benefit of plenty of playing time on defence. I have no doubts that he will start in 2012, and though he’s struggled, I can still see him becoming a big force at middle linebacker, the force we so desperately need. His size isn’t an issue, instead, it’s been his inconsistent play which has led to many defensive mistakes. Jake has been subject to a lot of criticism, and he knows it. I have no doubt, that he has the potential to be a very good linebacker.
Auburn’s linebacker play was poor last season, but hopefully with a few new coaches, we’ll see the unit step up as a whole, and play like hamsters on cocaine. Jake isn’t the sole blame for it, but he has the potential to help fix it.