10 College Football Players Who Could Regress in 2013
There is a chance that the same college football players you were praising last season could have a down year in 2013. Every year there are a handful of players who slip production wise and aren't as effective as they may have been a season ago.
A lot of factors go into this, as it could have been due to a coaching change and certain players leaving, or the previous season was just so difficult to top that regressing was really the only option. Opposing coaching staffs also game-plan against these guys, trying to find ways to make them less effective.
Last season we saw guys like Matt Barkley, Sammy Watkins and Logan Thomas really struggle and not live up to expectations.
Here are a few players who could have a hard time this season.
Bené Benwikere, DB, San Jose State
Bené Benwikere intercepted seven passes last season.
Do you need to hear any more?
To be fair, Benwikere is one of the best cornerbacks you have probably never heard of. He covers a ton of ground and plays the ball extremely well—which you could probably gather from his interception total.
But interceptions aren't just playing the ball well and doing your job, a lot of luck is involved. You have to get the right bounce and be in the right spot at the right time.
Benwikere should continue to improve his draft stock, but I'll go out on a limb and say he won't end up anywhere close to seven interceptions again.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Remember the last sure-fire NFL draft prospect who decided to return for his senior season? Things didn't exactly end so well.
Now, things shouldn't be as bad for Taylor Lewan as they were for Matt Barkley, but there is potential for things to go south. Lewan could have been the top overall pick in last year's draft, meaning that there is really not much he can improve when it comes to his draft stock.
There is also the fact that Michigan is replacing the entire interior of the offensive line. Like it or not, most of the time an offensive line is judged as a collective group. This is not good for Lewan or anybody else involved.
The Wolverines left tackle returned to school for all of the right reasons, but putting the NFL on hold has a funny way of backfiring.
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The shifty Arizona running back led college football last season with 1,929 rushing yards. Ka'Deem Carey has the ability to break tackles and has more than enough speed once he finds the hole to score at any moment.
Carey should have another solid year given the fact that head coach Rich Rodriguez loves to run the football, although expecting close to 2,000 yards again is a bit much. Expecting another special season in a conference that is improving is asking a lot.
The Wildcats have many tough defensive teams on the schedule, including Washington, Oregon and Arizona State. All of those teams will be focused solely on Carey and how to slow the little guy down.
Coach Rodriguez finds ways to put his guys in position to succeed, but last season will be tough to repeat.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Taylor Martinez was often criticized for not being able to throw the ball. He couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, completing less than 60 percent of his passes his first two seasons. Last year we witnessed a new quarterback, as he somehow completed 62 percent and threw for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns.
This is difficult to buy.
Martinez has always been more of an athlete than an actual quarterback, wanting to run and make plays with his feet. His accuracy has always been an issue and haunted him at the end of last year, as he finished the final two games with four interceptions.
The Nebraska quarterback will always be fun to watch and a threat to make plays. However, don't expect great passing numbers again.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
Eddie Lacy gone, T.J. Yeldon the workhorse. Right? Well, not quite.
Although Yeldon may be the most popular running back on the Alabama roster, he certainly isn't the only talented back. The Tide will have to split carries between Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler and 2013 recruit Derrick Henry. This also doesn't include Dee Hart, who recently switched back to running back after trying things out in the secondary.
With all of the talented ball carriers, Yeldon may not be the workhorse runner everybody expects him to be. If you have multiple guys capable of getting the job done, it doesn't make sense to give one runner the ball 200-plus times.
And besides, is Yeldon capable of being that cowbell-type runner? He doesn't have the size that Lacy or Trent Richardson had during their Alabama days.
Yeldon could put up more than 1,000 yards again, but more backs are likely going to be included this season.
A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
Tennessee looked lost in its transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. In fact, things were so out of whack last season, the Volunteers finished with the worst defense by far in the SEC. It is pretty ugly when you are allowing 471 yards a game on average.
One of the few bright spots on the defense last year was A.J. Johnson, who led the SEC with 138 tackles. Knowing that he is still on the team and the Volunteers have switched back to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator John Jancek has to be comforting.
Tennessee has eight defensive starters returning and should be a lot more comfortable in the new system. Johnson will continue to be one of the best linebackers in the game, but he likely won't have to do all of the work this season.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Brett Hundley may have overachieved last season as a freshman, passing for 3,745 yards, completing 66.6 percent of his passes and rushing for nine touchdowns. A part of the reason the Bruins were able to do so well is the program has to feel confident about the upcoming season with Hundley at the helm.
The reason for possibly running into that sophomore slump is a combination of losing running back Johnathan Franklin and playing behind a horrible offensive line. Last season Hundley was sacked 52 times, which usually doesn't amount to much success.
The Bruins also lost Franklin—who finished seventh in the country last year with 1,767 rushing yards—to the NFL draft.
Hundley now has more on his plate than last year, and the pressure could be a bit much for the young quarterback.
Prince Shembo, LB, Notre Dame
Notre Dame will continue to be a dominant force defensively, but one of the names you may hear a little less of is linebacker Prince Shembo. Finishing last season with 7.5 sacks and 51 tackles, he was one of the underrated bright spots of last year's squad.
Although there is company with Ishaq Williams entering his junior year, having yet to make a significant impact on this team, many believe that this is the year the speedy linebacker breaks out and lives up to the hype. He was a terrific player coming out of high school and has that overwhelming athleticism to come off the edge and make plays.
Look for Shembo and Williams to split playing time, which may hurt the production we saw last season from No. 55.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Marqise Lee is by far the best wide receiver in college football. With the way he goes up and catches the ball and his ability to make plays after the catch, there is little doubt he will have a long and productive career in the NFL.
As for his junior season, there are question marks. One of them has to do with the starting quarterback. Who is it going to be, and will he be able to help Lee have another terrific season? Lee didn't score a touchdown in the final two games when Max Wittek replaced Matt Barkley.
Another concern is that many of the other USC receivers have yet to step up in a big way. While Lee has the skill set to beat double-coverage consistently, other guys must make a name for themselves and take some of that attention away from the star receiver. Robert Woods is no longer around to do that.
It wouldn't be surprising to see another fabulous year, but don't be shocked if Lee's numbers dip a little.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel had a season for the ages, rewriting the record books and becoming the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner. Are we really to believe he can continue the same level of play and put up similar numbers as he did last year?
This isn't a knock on Manziel's game. His style of play and endless highlight performances were great for college football. However, it is unfair to expect him to continue to perform at such a high level in the SEC.
If he was playing against teams in the Sun Belt, sure, expect video-game numbers throughout his career. But expecting him to throw for 3,706 yards and rush for 1,410 against the best teams in the country is not being realistic.
Manziel can still be great and fun to watch, but these defensive coordinators have had a whole offseason to prepare, and you have to believe he will be brought back to down to reality this season.