Projecting SEC Football's Most Improved Players for 2013
If at first you don't succeed, try again. Here's to the SEC players who get an opportunity to do just that and improve their game in 2013.
Last season, many players came in with a tremendous amount of hype attached to their name. However, they fell short of expectations.
You can thank the over-hyped, over-exaggerated recruiting process for that.
There's reason to believe certain highly touted recruits will have a tremendous rebound in 2013.
Because of experience gained, a coaching change or a healthier start to the season, these are the SEC players that will be most improved this season.
Can we hit the restart button?
That's what Missouri supporters are thinking.
As you know, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Dorial Green-Beckham either.
Green-Beckham was the most heavily recruited athlete in the nation a year-and-a-half ago. After watching him collect only 395 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions last season, though, fans are probably thinking, "Really, this is the guy?"
Don't label DGB a bust just yet. Missouri never had momentum in 2012, mostly due to James Franklin being banged-up throughout the season. The offense's progression plodded along as result.
Expect Franklin to be fully healthy and Green-Beckham to benefit from a year of experience in the offense. A tremendous increase in his stock is likely.
Jonathan Williams' breakout is crucial.
Arkansas' offense in 2013 is a bit of a mystery.
On one hand, head coach Bret Bielema supports a system that focuses on wearing down opponents with physical play from the running backs. On the other hand, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney enjoys spreading the ball around in a shotgun-oriented offense.
Either way, Williams will benefit from it.
Williams will be the starting tailback for the Hogs this season after rushing for 231 yards. If he has the same type of success the running backs have had under Bielema and Chaney, he'll put together a remarkable season in 2013.
Under Bielema's offense at Wisconsin last season, Montee Ball rushed for 1,830 yards. Meanwhile, Chaney's offense at Tennessee produced a 708-yard rusher and a 658-yard rusher.
Williams is in the perfect position to rush for over 1,000 yards this season.
Here's a Maggitt Sgt. Slaughter can appreciate.
Toe and knee injuries prevented Curt Maggitt from being a superstar on defense for the Tennessee Volunteers last year. He was sidelined for three games.
Before Maggitt's injuries kept him from finishing his sophomore campaign, he recorded 30 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Entering his junior season, he's getting some love in the preseason. LindysSports.com has Maggitt on its preseason All-SEC Third Team, while Phil Steele has him on the fourth team. The reason why is because of the potential he showcased as a freshman, recording 56 tackles and a forced fumble.
A fully healthy Maggitt should easily double the tackles and sacks he recorded a year ago.
Should've listened to Momma.
Rather than abiding by Momma's request, Landon Collins chose Alabama over LSU. He ended up riding the bench often in his freshman season, and he's yet to earn a starting safety position.
However, because Alabama is looking for someone to play alongside Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the door is wide open for Collins. He just has to win the battle for a starting safety slot, and his rise to prominence will be underway.
It's not going to be easy, but Collins' talent suggests he'll get the job done.
From there, Saban will put him in a position to succeed. Thus, Momma should have a smile on her face this season.
Your time is now, Zach Mettenberger.
If ever the stars aligned for an LSU quarterback to be successful, it would be this season.
LSU returns an experienced offensive line, its top four receivers from a year ago and four to five (J.C. Copeland included) running backs who have all played significant football in the past. To go along with this veteran group is an offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, who is a great teacher and will be influential for Mettenberger's progression as a quarterback.
Last season, Mettenberger showed glimpses of his ability, with stellar performances against Alabama and Mississippi State, combining for 571 yards, three touchdowns with no interceptions. Other times, well, he threw for less than 50 percent and took numerous sacks.
A full year, a veteran group around him and a true offensive coordinator with a true command over the offense will allow Mettenberger to take the next step in his football career.