Fall camp will start in less than a month for Mountain West teams. With it will bring news and updates, especially excitement about new up-and-coming players. So this week’s question is: who are the potential offensive breakout player(s) on your team?
Mike: I’ll look at San Diego State. The Aztecs are usually known more for their defense than they are their offense. However, they seem to have an endless amount of great running backs and that’s the position I think the breakout player comes from. Many of the returning players are upperclassmen who are who they are at this point in their careers. I expect a true freshman to burst on the scene and make an immediate impact. Look for Lucky Sutton to get reps right away as part of a running back rotation and show he can be a future star at the college level.
NittanyFalcon: Before last season, do you remember how everyone was talking about how Vince Sanford would become a First Team All Mountain West linebacker? Do you remember prior to the 2020 season everyone predicting that Brad Roberts would become the all time leader in rushing yards for a fullback? Do you remember everyone predicting Nolan Laufenberg and Parker Ferguson would be competing for spots on an NFL roster? I certainly don’t remember any of that, and I was no different than anybody else.
The point is that whoever emerges as a breakout this year for the Falcons, it’s not likely that I will predict it and neither will anyone else. However, there are a few openings in the starting lineup that are more likely places to see a breakout star.
The first opportunity is in the receiving positions. Brandon Lewis has departed and his most likely replacement, Micah Davis, is transferring. David Cormier has been around a while and may finally have a big season. Wyatt Wilson will be receiving some playing time at wideout for the first time this year, and given that he’s off the radar scope might fit in with the previously mentioned unknowns who broke out. At the slot position, Senior Ben Jefferson reminds of Ben Peterson, who was known as a blocking slotback who averaged 31 yards per catch in 2020 as a senior. The final wild card here might be backup quarterback/athlete Zach Larrier. The two-time MW champion in the 200 meter dash is too fast to linger on the bench, and the Falcons have hinted they may be trying to find some way to get into the lineup at tailback or receiver.
The other opportunity is if the Falcons get thin due to injuries at fullback, watch for Jet Harris, who has been running over tacklers in practice.
Adam: Nathaniel Jones’ time at New Mexico has been up-and-down to say the least. Jones began his career at UNM with a bang in way of 96 yards rushing and a touchdown against Hawai’i. Jones would later rush for two touchdowns in an upset win of Fresno State to close the 2020 season.
The 2021 season was the complete opposite, and saw Jones and UNM part ways. After sometime to reflect, Jones decided to return to UNM, and took a redshirt for the season.
Now with 2022 on the horizon, Jones appears to be headed for a breakout. Head Coach Danny Gonzales is very high on the sophomore’s talent, and fits in perfectly with Gonzales’ offensive plans to be a heavy-run team. Jones is also motivated to show off his talent that was once offered a scholarship from UCLA. Saying in the spring “I can’t wait until we play. I want to show my team what they were missing and show myself what I can do,” Jones said. If healthy, Jones could turn into one of the top backs in the Mountain West this season.
Graham_Gibson: Utah State has turned out its best recruiting class in school history this off-season so there is a lot of potential for young breakout players in addition to players that have been with the Aggies for a while. Levi Williams is a name that comes to mind. Logan Bonner did a very nice job for the Aggies last season, however Bonner coming in makes things interesting as he is a highly rated transfer. Wide receiver Brian Cobbs from Maryland is also a name that comes to mind, rated as a three star transfer. Running backs John Gentry and Calivn Tyler Jr are also posed for breakout years with the experience that both bring back. One name that really says breakout to me though is wide receiver Justin McGriff. During his junior season in 2021, McGriff started all 14 games and had 414 yards and six touchdowns off of 35 receptions. McGriff also averaged an impressive 11.8 yards per reception. During his two years at Utah State so far he has increased both his playing time and productivity. With the loss of talent on that end heading into next season, McGriff is going to be a very important part of the offense as will a receiver such as Brian Cobbs.