Predicting breakout players is oftentimes nearly impossible. Many times, a player who is expected to flourish ends up fizzling out. Or a player will come out of nowhere and shock the football world. Welcome to part one of six, picking a breakout player for every SEC team.
Picking a Breakout Player for Every SEC Team
Alabama – Henry Ruggs III – Wide Receiver
Let’s be honest here for a moment. Alabama has approximately 39 players that could fit into this category. That makes narrowing this down to just one player incredibly difficult. With that said, Henry Ruggs is the clear choice for the Crimson Tide.
The six foot 179-pound sophomore wide receiver comes out of Lee High School in Montgomery, AL. Ruggs has every tool necessary to become the primary play-maker at wide receiver under new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. He has already earned the reputation as a touchdown machine. In fact, he accounted for 20 TD’s during his senior year of high school on 102 touches in only nine games. His first five catches of his freshman season at Alabama all went for TD’s. Ruggs finished with 12 receptions for 229 yards and 6 TD’s last year for a Bama passing offense that struggled. He can beat you down field, repeatedly gets open on underneath routes, has great hands and is insanely quick. With presumably a better quarterback in place and no Calvin Ridley, Henry Ruggs is primed to have a breakout season!
Arkansas – McTelvin Agim – Defensive Tackle
The six foot three, 280-pound McTelvin Agim had a memorable high school career at Hope High School in Arkansas. He came to Arkansas as a four-star player with great measurable’s. Agim collected 226 tackles and 62 sacks along with other eye-popping stats during his career. He was highly recruited, choosing the Razorbacks over a plethora of big name schools.
Agim has been solid thus far for the Hogs. He has registered 64 tackles along with 13 tackles for loss in his two seasons. He added three quarterback hurries with three pass breakups last season. However, there is more! Several factors point to Agim having a breakout 2018 campaign. First, he works relentlessly hard on every single play. Secondly, he has demonstrated flashes of greatness in many ways. He has shown that by rushing the quarterback effectively. He can be seen stuffing a run play or accelerating downfield to drag down a ball carrier from behind. Additionally, new defensive coordinator John Chavis definitely knows how to develop and effectively use players such as Agim. This looks to be a rebuilding year for the Hogs, but expect All-SEC honors from McTelvin Agim this year.
Auburn – Malik Miller – Running Back
Admittedly, picking Malik Miller here to be Auburn’s breakout player is certainly risky. That is especially the case when you consider the talented stable of backs at Auburn. Those include junior Kam Martin (leading returning rusher), highly touted true freshman Asa Martin and redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow.
Miller suffered a season-ending knee injury in month one of his freshman season in 2016. Last year, he was essentially buried on the depth chart. He still averaged four yards per carry on 34 rushes with one TD. He has improved exponentially over the summer, knows the offense very well and has improved steadily in pass protection. Miller is a powerful back with legitimate speed. It appears that nobody has taken the reigns at running back just yet during the summer for Auburn. That means Malik Miller will firmly grab control of the job. He will rush for roughly 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns this year. In doing so, he will become the surprise breakout player for Auburn!
Florida – Marco Wilson – Cornerback
Marco Wilson, the younger brother of former Gator Quincy Wilson, already made an impressive impact as a freshman last year. He joined Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, and Marcus Roberson as the only Florida corners to ever start on opening day. In fact, he started all 11 games, registering 34 tackles and led the team with 10 pass breakups.
Wilson will undoubtedly establish himself as one of the top corners in the SEC this season. He will do that while forming a potentially dynamic duo with fellow sophomore CJ Henderson. Wilson stands six feet tall, weighing 178 pounds. He has enough size plus the sheer athleticism combined with great hands to give receivers fits. He will likely grab a handful of interceptions while keeping his pass breakup tally in double digits. Wilson is a sure tackler, covers well and should also be used in corner blitzes. All signs point to Marco Wilson stepping forward as Florida’s breakout player in 2018!
Georgia – Richard LeCounte – Safety
Georgia loses two of their secondary starters, thus creating an opening for sophomore phenom Richard LeCounte to step in immediately at safety. Last year as a freshman, he accumulated 15 tackles in limited action. LeCounte is a heat-seeking missile aiming straight for ball carriers. He has good size at five feet 11 inches tall, weighing 190 pounds. He is near the top in regards to best athletes that you will see in college football this year. LeCounte’s sure tackling, hard-hitting, plus his versatility bring comparisons to Ed Reed.
Should you need further convincing, check out these ridiculous numbers he put up while at Liberty County HS in Georgia. LeCounte accumulated 399 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and three defensive TD’s. He also amazingly accounted for 36 TD’s on offense. Not too shabby right? You need to be aware of Richard LeCounte this year because he is coming with a vengeance.
Kentucky – Lynn Bowden – Wide Receiver
This is a name that most college football fans are not familiar with yet. Kentucky sophomore wide receiver Lynn Bowden from Youngstown is determined to change that fact. Now, a lot of this frankly depends on how productive Oregon transfer quarterback Terry Wilson ends up being. Bowden already made his presence felt some last year for the Wildcats. That presence was specifically felt as a kick returner. He netted 869 yards on 37 returns for an average of 23.5 yards per return. He managed to sneak in 17 receptions for 210 yards as well. When you discuss premier pure athletes in college football, the name Lynn Bowden should be at the tip of your tongue. He is a dynamic all-around threat who will be a breakout player for Kentucky!
LSU – Breiden Fehoko – Defensive End
Breiden Fehoko is a player who came out of high school with lofty expectations. He initially went to Texas Tech where he played for two seasons. Fehoko was expected to help change the fortunes of the Red Raider defense. After putting up just 38 tackles, 7.5 for loss with two sacks, he decided to transfer to a place known for cultivating top-notch defensive line talent. LSU certainly fits that description with a rich tradition of quality defensive lineman over the years, especially in recent years.
Fehoko is an absolute beast who was difficult to contain as a scout team member last year. He has bulked up even more since he left Texas Tech. Fehoko is absolutely relentless. During his senior year of high school, he registered 74 tackles, 16 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. Numbers like that indicate the type of player he is capable of becoming. Expect Fehoko to break out, thus becoming the next defensive line star for the Tigers!
Mississippi State – Keith Mixon – Wide Receiver
So far at Mississippi State, junior wide receiver Keith Mixon has not been able to fully display all that he is capable of doing. He is a dynamic athlete with great change of direction. Mixon can also contribute on special teams when needed. He is extremely hard to tackle, not only because of his pure speed but also due to his elusiveness.
Mixon played in seven games last season, snagging 18 passes for 275 yards along with a touchdown. As a freshman, he finished with 611 all-purpose yards. Mixon has an offensive-minded head coach who likes to throw the ball around the yard, which will help. Expect Keith Mixon to break out as the Bulldogs primary big-play target.
Missouri – Adam Sparks – Cornerback
The athletic six foot tall Adam Sparks hails originally from Baton Rouge. Sparks already made a significant impact for Missouri as a true freshman last year. He started the final eight games of the season, making 34 tackles with four pass breakups and two interceptions. Sparks has a stellar combination of finesse and physicality to his game. He possesses great speed, fantastic ball skills and is not afraid of making tackles in open space. Additionally, Sparks is an extremely hard worker, always looking for ways to improve his craft. Look for Sparks to have a season worthy of All-SEC honors, as he becomes the breakout player for Missouri!
Ole Miss – Detric Bing-Dukes – Linebacker
The six-foot one-inch linebacker from Tucker, GA is poised to have a monstrous senior season for Ole Miss. Detric Bing-Dukes has had to overcome multiple obstacles during his career thus far. He began his career at Georgia, then proceeded to attend Iowa Western Community College before heading to Ole Miss.
Bing-Dukes is a player who seeks to work hard every single day in regards to understanding the game at a high level. In addition, he believes in executing as close to perfection as possible. He is perfect for the landshark moniker that they have created in Oxford. We will see the results of the hard work this year as the middle linebacker leads the defense. Bing-Dukes will have a 100 plus tackle season due to his sideline to sideline ability to make plays, sure tackling and will to succeed. He is as close to a sure bet as you can get for breakout player at Ole Miss in 2018.
South Carolina – Jamyest Williams – Safety
Coming from football powerhouse Grayson High School in Georgia, Jamyest Williams made the SEC All-Freshman team last year. He is a versatile player who can play any defensive back position if needed. Don’t let the five foot eight frame of Williams distract you from his amazing abilities on the field. He is incredibly fast, reads both running plays and passing plays extremely well while disrupting plays in the backfield. Last year, he recorded 38 tackles, two interceptions, four tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. Williams is coming off of shoulder surgery, which will not deter him from becoming South Carolina’s breakout player this season.
Tennessee – Ty Chandler – Running Back
Nashville native Ty Chandler will be a star in the SEC very quickly. The sophomore running back ran for 305 yards on 71 carries with two touchdowns backing up John Kelly. Despite Michigan State transfer Madre London coming to Knoxville, Chandler figures to get the majority of the carries for Tennessee. He ran for 2,252 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior in high school at Montgomery Bell Academy. That is after rushing for over 2,500 as a junior. Not that he will put up gaudy numbers like that in college of course. The point is, Chandler’s ability is through the roof.
Beyond the previous statements, what makes Ty Chandler a potential star is his combination of speed, physicality, toughness, and elusiveness. His size of five feet 11 is perfect for a running back. Chandler has no problem running a guy over, stiff-arming them or just simply running away from them for a long gain. Expect Ty Chandler to announce his presence quite loudly this season! He will become the Vols breakout player and possibly earn All-SEC honors.
Texas A&M – Anthony Hines – Linebacker
The six foot three inch, 220 pound Anthony Hines was a big-time recruit for 2017 coming out of Plano East High School in Texas. His senior year of high school was flat out ridiculous. He accumulated 220 tackles, five sacks, 38 tackles for loss, two picks and five forced fumbles! Hines finished his career with a whopping 640 tackles, 96 of which were for a loss. That is pure insanity!
Hines frankly should have played more than what he did last year as a freshman. Despite that, he still managed to register 33 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks along with a forced fumble. Expect his productivity to increase exponentially this season. Anthony Hines will propel himself to breakout player status in 2018 without a doubt.
Vanderbilt – Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Running Back
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a Nashville native, attending Pearl-Cohn High School, but elected to go out of state to Illinois initially. After rushing for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons, he decided to transfer back to his hometown to Vanderbilt. Perfect timing considering the schools all-time leading rusher, Ralph Webb, is now a member of the New England Patriots. That leaves the door wide open for Vaughn to assume control.
Vaughn is an extremely talented, stout back with a great combination of speed and power. Once he hits the open field, the ball is typically going a long distance. Additionally, he changes directions extremely well on top of reading the hole. Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be a breakout player for Vandy this year topping 1,000 yards on the season.
There you have it. A breakout player for every SEC team. Certainly, there is a multitude of players that were considered for this list. These are the correct breakout players to watch in 2018.
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