Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 119: Tracy Lampley, No. 1, Southern Mississippi, Wide Receiver
Last season, the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss were a couple upsets away from going undefeated. Unexpected losses to Marshall and UAB were the only blemishes on what was a bell cow season for Larry Fedora and the folks in Hattiesburg. Now, Larry Fedora is gone for North Carolina and quarterback Austin Davis is out of eligibility. That leaves new coach Ellis Johnson to keep the always successful Golden Eagles on the right track at The Rock. Mr. Everything, Tracy Lampley is certain to be a key player in this push for success.
There is not much that Lampley does not excel at on the football field. Under Larry Fedora in 2011, Lampley was able to amass 1,037 yards of total offense and another 761 yards in returns. Seven touchdowns on offense and another punt return touchdown in his junior season. Tracy Lampley is a tough kid; he is a bit of a poor man's Percy Harvin. He runs the ball tough between the tackles and is still comfortable getting out on the edge and using his speed to run past defenders and exploit mismatches.
Lampley catches the ball very well. He uses his hands and reels the ball in safely, hence the 47 catches in 2011. Lampley also has a knack for getting open against both zone and man coverages. He can out sprint bigger defenders, and he is shifty enough to find holes in zones against defensive backs.
The weaknesses for Lampley will not be of his doing for the 2012 season. Ricky Bustle is the new offensive coordinator, and how he plans on maximizing the 5'9" senior is going to tell the tale of Lampley's success. Ellis Johnson is saying the right things about getting the ball into his playmakers hands, but the defensive-minded head coach will have to show and prove beyond just the spring game where Lampley put on a show. The unknown going into 2012 makes watching Lampley quite interesting, as he is a player that needs close to 10 touches a game.
After being an honorable mention All-Conference USA as a wide receiver in 2011, the rising senior is set to put his name on the squad in 2012. His teammates, especially first-year starter Chris Campbell, will be looking to him to be a key contributor on this Southern Miss offense. After a season that proved Lampley was capable of doing everything, the onus is on Bustle and Johnson to make sure that he is getting his touches in 2012.
While the senior campaign will not boast gaudy statistics at the running back or receiver position, Lampley's efforts, combined with the return game contributions, should make 2012 a solid year. Expect him to push the 1,300 total yards mark and continue to be a threat in the return game.