This week’s round-table discussion once again focuses on the upcoming 2018 football season. The question is: Who will be a potential break-out player for each team this fall? Support your answer with a few sentences on why they are primed for a break-out.
Air Force: Let’s go with defense for the Falcons on this one. James Jones had a solid sophomore season last fall, compiling 52 tackles as a defensive back. Look for him to emerge as one of the leaders of the team in the 2018 season as Air Force strives to make improvements this coming fall.
Fresno State: This one is tough to pick, because there is two players that are definitely poised for a breakout season after strong endings to last season. One is TE Jared Rice, who became a force on the receiving end in the Boise game and in the bowl game. A full season with McMaryion should open up more options for the junior. The other is Kevin Atkins. He was a backup to begin last season, but impressed the coaches enough to start the last 4 games. He’ll have big shoes to fill replacing Malik Forrester’s production, but he has the size and now experience to do it in the middle
Hawaii: The return of the run-and-shoot offense to Manoa essentially guarantees that at least one wide receiver will put up all-conference numbers. John Ursua has already broken out, so I’ll guess that with the departure of Dylan Collie, junior college transfer Cedric Byrd will be Hawaii’s breakout player of 2018. Look for the slotback to make a big impact next season. I’ll also throw out interior defensive linemen Doug Russell’s name. It might not show up in the stat column, but Russell might end up being the anchor on the defensive line that Hawaii has lacked in recent seasons.
Nevada: Nevada hit its stride in the second half of the year, and like most of us thought last week, as a team the Wolf Pack as the team most likely to have a breakout season. The reason for the increased success? Ty Gangi. Look for him to build on how he finished last year and take that next step, leading the Wolf Pack as the breakout player on the breakout team.
San Diego State:Is it okay to say JR Justice will be a breakout player for the Aztecs next fall? He may be highly ranked coming out of high school and have his expectations already placed on him. But no one seems is in a better position than him coming into the fall. He should “break out” in his first college season. Other than that, I would say Tariq Thompson already had his breakout season last year, but he seems poised to take that next step as one of the top DBs in the conference come fall.
San Jose State: Gut feel is first year QB Terrell Carter; only because he looks more a natural, instinctive player, though he isn’t the fastest or strongest. Also, he may not get the starting nod, given the way the QB carousel carried on early in last year’s season, but I believe he’s the better chance to give the offense the multi-dimensional aspect that’s needed to keep defenses off balance and in turn, I think he can keep the offense out there longer to ‘assist’ the defense. If this all happens, this is where the Spartan’s overall turnaround will start.
UNLV: The Rebels will need a few playmakers next season and one who could emerge as a threat is rising sophomore WR Drew Tejchman. He is a classic pick after seeing limited production as a freshman. He saw action in eight games, compiling 7 receptions for 138 yards, good for a whopping 19.7 yards per catch. Look for him to build on that experience an explode next season as a legit receiving option in their offense.
Utah State: Quarterback Jordan Love appears to be as good of a guess as any here. He split time as a freshman last year with senior Kent Meyers, and though the stats weren’t eye-popping (55% completion percentage, 8 TDs & 6 INTs), he could use that experience to correct some bad habits and become a more consistent QB in the upcoming campaign. It would not be surprising at all to see him eclipse the 2000 yard passing mark and throw for 18-20 TDs.
Your turn: Who do you think will be the break-out players for Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, and Wyoming? Do you agree or disagree with the picks we made above? Leave a comment below.