SEC Football Predictions 2011: 5 Players Who Will Have a Breakout Year
Finally. College football season is upon us, and the SEC season begins tomorrow.
Several SEC players are coming into to fill massive voids left by stars that have departed to the NFL, and others are just under great pressure to turn their respective programs around.
Among these many players, five stand out among the rest as having the best shot for a breakout season and will be influential in how well or poorly their team does in 2011.
Michael Dyer (RB Auburn)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
With the departure of BCS National Championship starting QB Cam Newton to the NFL, the offense now switches gears to surround running back Michael Dyer in 2011. Many have counted the Auburn Tigers out of the SEC title hunt in 2011, but Dyer could change that.
Dyer will be out to prove that his success in the SEC as a freshman, where he put up 1,093 yards and five touchdowns, was no fluke.
Some may think that last season was his breakout year, but with just five touchdowns, he can do a lot better and will do just that in 2011. Dyer will definitely have more than just four 100-yard performances in 2011 and will have several opportunities to reach the milestone early on in Auburn's schedule.
Dyer has the potential to have a season similar to LaMichael James of Oregon in 2010, so expect at least 1,500 yards out of him and at least 15 touchdowns.
Trent Richardson (RB Alabama)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
It is finally time for Trent Richardson to shine for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Richardson who has backed up Heisman winner Mark Ingram for the past two seasons, put up 1,451 and 14 TDs.
Now, with his starting spot secured, Richardson will be getting a lot of touches.
If the past is any indication, as starter Richardson should expect around 180 touches in 2011. As a backup, he put up those numbers on just 257 touches, most of which were short yardage situations.
Richardson has the potential for big runs as he showed in the Arkansas game in 2010 where he broke a 53-yard run as well as against Tennessee where he put up a 65-yarder.
With Alabama as one of the favorites to win the SEC in 2011, Richardson needs to help the offense put up points and should easily score over 15 touchdowns and rack up at least 1,400 yards on the campaign.
Jadeveon Clowney (DE South Carolina)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The lone freshman on this list, Jadeveon Clowney has yet to prove himself on the field, but without a doubt he will in 2011. Clowney, the No. 1 recruit in the nation going into 2011, will be playing defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
He will be playing opposite a man who dominated offensive lines last season in Devin Taylor. With that, he will have a lot of one on one battles, battles he will win.
In his senior year of high school Clowney had 162 tackles, 29 for a loss, 29.5 sacks and five defensive touchdowns. Now obviously Clowney won't put up absurd numbers like this in the SEC, but he should be a leader in most defensive line categories among freshman in 2011.
Opponents are going to have a lot to deal with on the line when they play the Gamecocks in 2011.
Spencer Ware (RB LSU)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
With the departure of running back Stevan Ridley to the NFL and off-field issues with the law for QB Jordan Jefferson, there is a lot of pressure on Spencer Ware to pick up the slack on offense for the LSU Tigers in 2011.
Coming into his sophomore year with the Tigers, Ware has hardly played. The only time he ever did anything significant was in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M where he rushed for 102 yards, but this was also as a true freshman and backup to stud running back Stevan Ridley. Ware has great potential to be a superstar in the SEC.
Spencer Ware is poised for several 100-plus-yard games in 2011, and with the additional reps he should receive early on as Jarrett Lee gets acclimatized with the offense, he should produce upwards of 1,200 yards and 14 TDs in 2011.
Tyler Wilson (QB Arkansas)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Coming into 2011, there is no reason Arkansas Razorback QB Tyler Wilson shouldn't have a breakout season.
Coming into to fill the hole left by Ryan Mallett after the 2010 season, Wilson fits perfectly into Bobby Petrino's offense.
In addition to meshing well with Petrino's style of play calling, Wilson is expected to get even more reps this season due to injuries in the backfield to both Knile Davis and Broderick Green. Wilson is very fortunate that with these extended reps he has the best core group of receivers in the nation to pass the ball to.
Both Greg Childs and Jarius Wright who both can catch any ball thrown in their relative vicinity. Good thing for Wilson's receivers too as they should all be ready for big years. Wilson may not have the same arm strength Mallett had, but he makes up for that in his accuracy.
Wilson will have the ball in the spot he wants more often than not, and that should help him that much more in 2011.
Tyler Wilson will break into the SEC a year after backing up Ryan Mallett and putting up 453 yards with four touchdowns and a 66.7 completion percentage. With his potential, Wilson should be among the top quarterbacks in the SEC in 2011.
Breakout Year for the SEC
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
2011 is the year of the breakout player in the SEC, as there are so many holes for so many players to fill on every team.
The SEC is always the most dominant conference in college football and produces some of the best NFL ready talent year in and year out, so it usually isn't a problem for new or inexperienced players to find success in the SEC.
Several players deserved to be on this list, and those that were left off, whether it be Orson Charles with Georgia, Ronald Powell with Florida or Chris Relf of Mississippi State, there will be several notable breakout performances this season, and the previous were just a selection of that elite group of players.