Last week, I wrote about some of the top names that will be available in upcoming devy drafts following the departure of many elite prospects headed for the 2014 NFL draft. While many of those I previously mentioned will be among the elite devy players, they are not the only ones. As college players jet off to the league, playing time becomes available and even more prospects become household names, at least in households of dynasty degenerates. Here’s a look at some players who could break out in 2014 thanks to a larger role.
Corey Clement, RB WISC
True freshman running back Corey Clement began his college career at Wisconsin with high expectations and although his playing time was inconsistent, he made a strong impression. Clement began his career with back-to-back 100 yard rushing games, albeit against less than stellar competition. Once the Big Ten play began, Clement didn’t get nearly as many touches. In fact, he failed to even see playing time five of the Badgers games this year, which makes his 547 rushing yards and seven scores even more impressive. Former Badger James White is moving on and he leaves a void of over 1,400 rushing yards, so we can expect Clement to get plenty of opportunity next season, even though he will be sharing touches with Melvin Gordon.
Joe Mixon, RB OKLA
The Oklahoma Sooners just finished the 2013 season on a strong note, knocking off powerhouse Alabama. The Sooners will be losing their top rusher, Brennen Clay, a senior who finished with just less than 1,000 rushing yards. While they have a talented back who is expected to return in Damien Williams, the running game has not been their strength in the recent past. That could change with the arrival of the top ranked all-purpose recruit, Joe Mixon. Mixon has verbally committed to Oklahoma and is expected to sign his letter of intent next week. While it’s difficult to predict which freshman will have an immediate impact, Mixon feels like a safe bet. He gained over 3,700 yards from scrimmage in his final two high school seasons and scored fifty-four touchdowns along the way.
Karlos Williams, RB FSU
The National Champion Florida State Seminoles are loaded with talent, even with the loss of many key contributors to their undefeated run this past season. Among the players leaving the team early, junior running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr. are both off to greener pastures of the NFL. It won’t surprise you to learn that the Seminoles have some talented players left in the fold though, including running back Karlos Williams, a player who was transitioned from safety to play running back. Williams, who is just finishing his junior season, could have bolted for the draft as well, but chose to stay and get more experience at the running back position. Williams carried only ninety-one times this season, but was the team’s second leading rusher with 730 yards and eleven scores. In fact, Williams found the end zone once every 8.3 carries, showing the weapon he could be on offense.
Derrick Green, RB MICH
The top ranked running back of the class of 2013, Derrick Green, managed only 270 rushing yards and was the third leading rusher for the Michigan Wolverines. The good news is leading rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint is a graduating senior, so the door is wide open for the stud recruit to take over. Don’t be surprised to see Green, who has ideal size at 5’11” and 220 pounds, break out in 2014.
Mike Williams, WR CLEM
We all knew this would be the final season of college for junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but opportunity is knocking for freshman wideout Mike Williams as fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant surprising declared for the draft as well. Williams caught twenty passes for 316 yards and three scores, but should be the top receiving option for the Tigers in 2014. Williams is a big target at 6’5”, but weighs only 205 pounds. There could also be some growing pains for Williams and the Tigers as the top two receivers, quarterback Tahj Boyd and leading rusher Roderick McDowell will all be moving on.
Leonte Carroo, WR RUT
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights struggled this season and are in a period of transition as some of their key contributors on offense are graduating or off to the NFL. Quarterback Gary Nova has been inconsistent throughout his career and Brandon Coleman, expected to the top receiving option for the team, declared for the draft. That leaves sophomore wide out Leonte Carroo as the top option for the 2014 Scarlet Knights. Carroo missed the last few games due to injury, but totaled twenty-eight catches for nearly 400 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s an athletic 6’1” receiver who has shown the ability to make the big play when needed. He’s the type of player who could have more success in the NFL than in college.
Shock Linwood, RB BAY
Lache Seastrunk has led the Baylor Bears in rushing the past two seasons, but now he is headed to the NFL and sturdy freshman Shock Linwood is the favorite to step in as the starter in the prolific offense. As a true freshman, Linwood totaled 881 rushing yards and should easily top the 1,000 yard mark next season. The Bears offense should not miss a beat with the return of quarterback Bryce Petty and wide receivers Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood.
Devante Noil, WR TEX A&M
Another highly ranked incoming freshman is Devante “Speedy” Noil, the top ranked wide receiver who will step into an opportunity that could reward him with plenty of playing time, thanks to the departure of the Aggies top two receivers, including Mike Evans. Noil earned his nickname, but has a diminutive frame, weighing in around 175 pounds. Even more impressive, Noil is considered the top wide receiver recruit despite playing the majority of his high school career at quarterback.
Nelson Algohor, WR USC
When it comes to the Trojans of USC, all of the attention recently has gone to wide receiver Marqise Lee. After a somewhat disappointing season, the junior is expected to be a first round draft pick. Lee leaves behind wide receiver Nelson Algohor and while Lee has the big name, Algohor actually led the Trojans in yards and receiving touchdowns. Considering the Trojans are losing two of their top three pass catchers, including tight end Xavier Grimble along with Lee, the targets and yards should be aplenty for Algohor.
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