College Football Stars Who Will Have Big Bounce-Back Performances in 2013
The 2013 season will offer an opportunity for redemption for a few college football stars who did not meet expectations in 2012.
Whether it was because of injury, the emergence of a fellow teammate, the lack of a strong supporting cast or just inconsistent effort, there were some players who simply did not have the type of seasons they were hoping for last year.
Many of the disappointing players from 2012 such as Matt Barkley, Knile Davis and David Amerson have moved on to the NFL ranks. However, there are a few notable players who will be back to redeem themselves this fall.
Here's a look at the college football stars who will have big bounce-back performances in 2013.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
It wasn't long ago that Sammy Watkins was the biggest breakout-star freshman of the 2011 season.
After catching 83 passes for 1,225 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns during his debut campaign, Watkins entered this past season with legitimate Heisman buzz.
Unfortunately, he failed to regain his freshman form after returning from a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season.
The 6'1'', 205-pound junior put up decent numbers, catching 57 passes for 708 yards in 10 games of action. However, he was overshadowed by fellow receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the country.
Now that Hopkins has moved on to the NFL, Watkins will have the opportunity to once again be Clemson's go-to receiver in 2013.
If he can stay healthy and stay focused, the explosive playmaker will be one of the most highly productive pass-catchers in college football.
QB Casey Pachall, TCU
Casey Pachall looked like he was quickly developing into one of the top passers in the country in the first month of the 2012 season.
In his first four games, the tall Texan completed 66 percent of his passes, averaged 9.8 yards per attempt and threw 10 touchdowns compared to just one interception.
Then suddenly Pachall put his entire football career in jeopardy with one very stupid and costly mistake. After being arrested for suspicion of DUI back on Oct. 4, Pachall was suspended indefinitely. Soon after that he left the program to confront his demons and get his personal life in order.
After doing everything that Gary Patterson asked of him, the coach let the troubled QB rejoin the program back in January. He's now currently competing with Trevone Boykin, the player who replaced him in 2012, for the starting job in spring practice.
If Pachall plays up to his potential and continues to make the right decisions off the field, there's no reason he shouldn't beat out Boykin and win back his job.
The 6'5'', 226-pound senior certainly has some baggage, but he's one of the most talented and naturally gifted quarterbacks in the country.
With running backs B.J. Catalon and Waymon James and receivers Brandon Carter, LaDarius Brown and Cam White surrounding him, Pachall will have the supporting cast he needs to lead the Horned Frogs into contention for a Big 12 title in 2013.
LB Jordan Hicks, Texas
Jordan hicks showed plenty of glimpses of his potential as a sophomore in 2011. However, injuries prevented him from becoming one of Texas' key defensive leaders in 2012 like he was expected to.
Hicks played in just three games before being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a hip injury.
The Longhorns clearly missed the presence of the athletic 6'2'', 235-pound former 5-star recruit at the weakside linebacker position. They ranked 90th in the nation in run defense and allowed an average of 191 yards on the ground per game.
After spending time rehabbing his hip, Hicks should be ready to return with a vengeance this fall.
He and DE Jackson Jeffcoat, who also missed significant time with an injury last year, will help give Texas' run defense a huge boost in 2013.
WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Jared Abbrederis flourished in 2011 when Russell Wilson took over as Wisconsin's starting quarterback.
Abbrederis enjoyed a breakout sophomore season, catching 55 passes for 933 yards and eight touchdowns.
He finished the year ranked 12th in the nation with 1,999 all-purpose yards, and he averaged a whopping 17.5 yards per play.
It was obvious that the Badgers' best receiver missed having Wilson leading the way on offense this past season. Abbrederis' production suffered, as Wisconsin struggled to find stability at the quarterback position.
The 6'2'', 180-pound senior should be able to produce at a high level once again in 2013, especially if new coach Gary Andersen can find a quality starting quarterback that can get Abbrederis the ball on a consistent basis.
QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Going into the 2012 season, Logan Thomas was being projected by some analysts as a potential high first-round NFL draft pick.
At the time, it didn't seem to be that far-fetched. Thomas was coming off an impressive debut season in which he totaled over 3,400 yards of offense, accounted for 30 touchdowns and led Virginia Tech to 11 wins and a BCS bowl. He also possessed freakish athleticism for a 6'6'', 260-pound signal-caller.
Ultimately, though, everyone who initially built up Thomas to be an elite quarterback prospect ended up looking foolish by the end of the 2012 season.
The dual-threat quarterback experienced a dramatic regression in his second year as a starter, especially as a passer. Thomas completed just 51 percent of his passes, threw 16 interceptions and finished the year with just a 115 passer rating, which ranked 93rd in the nation.
Thomas clearly wasn't the difference-maker in 2012 that many thought he would be. However, that doesn't mean that it's time to give up on the struggling, yet supremely gifted signal-caller.
If new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler can help Thomas improve his decision-making and accuracy this offseason, and if Loeffler can come up with an offensive scheme that maximizes his big, athletic quarterback's strengths, Thomas will make a huge turnaround as a senior in 2013.
OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami
Seantrel Henderson arrived at Miami back in 2010 as one of the most hyped high school offensive linemen recruits of all time. After an encouraging freshman performance in his first season, Henderson has failed to live up to expectations in the following two years, as he's floated in and out of the starting lineup.
Now, as he enters his senior season, it's time for Henderson to step up his game and make the most of the remarkable physical skills that he's been blessed with.
If the light finally comes on this offseason, the massive 6'8'', 345-pound tackle has the ability to develop into one of the most dominant blockers in college football in 2013.
QB Keith Price, Washington
Everyone was buzzing about Keith Price after he outplayed Heisman-winner Robert Griffin III in the 2011 Alamo Bowl.
Price started the 2012 season being hailed as a dark-horse Heisman contender. However, it didn't take long before he fell out of the Heisman race and out of the spotlight completely.
After Washington started off the season just 3-4, Price was able to rally the Huskies and lead them to four straight victories, including an upset of Oregon State.
Ultimately, however, they ended up finishing just 7-6 for the third straight year.
The one-time Heisman candidate didn't come close to putting up the type of numbers that many were expecting. He threw for just 2,739 yards and finished the season with a mediocre 19-13 touchdown-interception ratio.
In fairness to Price, it didn't help that his offensive line was dreadful in 2012. The unit allowed 38 sacks, which tied for the seventh highest total in the nation.
If the athletic senior signal-caller can get better protection next season, he'll have a much better chance to finally reach his potential.
With a supporting cast that will include RB Bishop Sankey, WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Seferian-Jenkins' status is still uncertain after a recent DUI arrest), Price will have the type of playmakers he needs to turn the Huskies' offense into one of the most potent attacks in the Pac-12 in 2013.
QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU
LSU managed to go undefeated in the regular season and win an SEC championship in 2011, even though the team ranked 106th in the nation in passing offense.
Many Tigers fans were hoping that former highly touted Georgia QB Zach Mettenberger could come in and rejuvenate the passing attack in 2012. However, that didn't happen. LSU averaged just 200 yards through the air per game last season, which ranked 94th nationally.
Mettenberger had some impressive moments in his first season as a starter, most notably his 298-yard passing performance in a losing effort to Alabama. However, over the full season, he just wasn't as consistent and efficient as LSU needed him to be.
The 6'5'', 230-pound senior should be able to rebound in 2013 if he can get better pass-protection from his offensive line and a better effort from his two talented top receivers, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham.
With Cam Cameron taking over as offensive coordinator, Mettenberger will now have the chance to prove himself in a pro-style offense that would seem to fit his skill-set.
K Andre Heidari, USC
After nailing 15-of-17 field-goal attempts as a true freshman, Andre Heidari entered the 2012 season as one of the top candidates to earn All-American honors and one of the top contenders for the Lou Groza Award.
Heidari did not meet expectations, however. He was able to nail just 10-of-16 field-goal tries. Only two of those kicks were from beyond 40 yards.
An early-season knee injury might have been the reason for Heidari's unexpected struggles.
With his knee back to 100 percent, the junior should once again be one of the most accurate kickers in the country in 2013.
LB Ronald Powell, Florida
When Ronald Powell arrived in Gainesville, he was the No.1-rated overall prospect in the country and the face of Florida's highly touted 2010 recruiting class.
Up to this point, Powell has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that were initially bestowed upon him when he signed with the Gators.
The 6'4'', 248-pound junior showed flashes of his potential in his second season when he led Florida with six sacks and totaled nine tackles for loss. But a preseason knee injury cost him the chance to build on that success in 2012, as he had to sit out the entire year and take a medical redshirt.
Now, after spending a year rehabbing his knee, Powell will return to the lineup, looking to prove that he is indeed one of the top pass-rushers in the SEC.
The former All-American recruit has the skills to shine in 2013. Powell appears to be a perfect fit for Will Muschamp's defense as the team's hybrid Buck linebacker.
CB Merrill Noel, Wake Forest
Before the 2012 season started, it appeared as if Merrill Noel was ready to develop into one of the top defensive backs in college football. Noel was coming off a fantastic freshman campaign in 2011 in which he totaled 66 tackles and led the nation with 21 total passes defended.
Instead, though, the talented corner endured a big sophomore slump. He totaled just 33 tackles and failed to pick off a pass in nine games of action.
His lackluster performance on the field was made worse by his troubles off the field. He was part of a group of Demon Deacons players, which was suspended late in the season.
Noel did not play up to his potential this past season. However, he clearly possesses top-notch coverage ability and instincts, which we demonstrated back in 2011.
If the former freshman All-American works to be the best player he can be this offseason, Noel should have a much better campaign in 2013.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Going into the 2012 season, Dorial Green-Beckham was one of the most talked-about true-freshman players in the country. The top receiver recruit of the 2012 class was already being called the next Calvin Johnson before he even took a snap at the collegiate level.
Ultimately, however, D.G.B. failed to make the type of immediate impact for the Tigers that many were expecting.
He caught just 28 passes for 395 yards.
Inconsistencies at the quarterback position obviously hampered his production, but there were also times when Green-Beckham struggled to separate from the talented SEC defensive backs he faced.
Now that he has a year of experience under his belt, and now that he's had time to adapt to the level of competition, the big, athletic 6'6'', 220-pound sophomore should finally start to make the most of his rare physical gifts in 2013.
If he gets more consistent play from his quarterback, Green-Beckham could be one of college football's biggest breakout stars this fall.
CB Blake Countess, Michigan
After witnessing flashes of Blake Countess' enormous potential during his impressive debut campaign in 2011, Michigan fans were excited to see what he could do in 2012.
Unfortunately, they never got that chance. Countess went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the team's season-opener against Alabama.
The 5'11'', 180-pound sophomore should be fully recovered by the time the 2013 season starts. The former top-rated prospect of Michigan's 2011 recruiting class should help solidify a Wolverines secondary, which lost two key leaders, Jordan Kovacs and J.T. Floyd.