It's time to take a look into our own crystal balls here on the SEC blog. Now that bowl season is over, we're taking a look at some potential breakout players for the 2013 season.
We are looking for guys who made the jump like Alabama's Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon, or Georgia's Todd Gurley. Players like Florida's Mike Gillislee, South Carolina's Ace Sanders and LSU's Kevin Minter are also great examples of what we're looking for. Now will these candidates be as spectacular as the guys above? We'll have to wait to find out -- but we think they have the ability to make a difference next fall. Players who earned first- or second-team All-SEC honors from either the media or the league's coaches weren't eligible for our list.
We're starting with the SEC East. We'll take a look at five offensive players to keep an eye on in 2013 and then move over to the defense later today.
Here are five offensive players in the East to keep an eye on in 2013 (in alphabetical order):
Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina: With Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles gone, the Gamecocks will turn to their young guys to get their running game going. Davis was used more once Lattimore went down with his season-ending knee injury. Davis ended the season with a decent first-year résumé, averaging 5.3 yards per carry by season's end. Davis is a tough runner, who showed some elusiveness at times last fall. With the starting running back spot up for grabs, Davis has a chance to have a big second year with the Gamecocks.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: He was supposed to be an instant star for the Tigers, but it took him a while to get used to playing at the college level. The former top recruit caught just 28 passes in his first year, but 21 of them came in Mizzou's last five games. He showed some big-time, big-play ability throughout the year and with his late-season momentum, Green-Beckham could really breakout in 2013. With T.J. Moe gone, the Tigers will need another major weapon in the passing game and Green-Beckham has all the tools to be one of the best receivers in the SEC.
Matt Jones, RB, Florida: Gillislee was the Gators' top offensive weapon in 2012, but he's graduating, leaving a major hole in Florida's offense. With a passing game that needs major work, the Gators will likely be looking to run the ball a lot in 2013, and Jones showed down the stretch that he has the strength and speed to make some plays for the Gators. For someone who ran so upright in high school, Jones packed way more of a punch than a lot of people expected in his first year, especially during the second half of the season. He'll enter spring as the Gators' No. 1 back.
Brian Kimbrow, RB, Vanderbilt: The sophomore-to-be entered his freshman year as the Commodores' prized recruit. Now that Zac Stacy will be graduating, Kimbrow will get even more looks on offense next fall. Wesley Tate and Warren Norman will still be in the backfield, but Kimbrow has the explosiveness and elusiveness that could make him a star for the Commodores. He carried the ball just 66 times but was second on the team with 413 yards. For the non-math majors, that's 6.3 yards per carry.
Justin Worley, QB, Tennessee: With Tyler Bray taking his talents to the NFL, Worley is first in line to be the Vols' new starting quarterback. Now, a lot is going to look different in Knoxville with Butch Jones calling the shots and those two monster receivers gone, but Worley was a top QB prospect coming out of high school and has show flashes here and there. He's had his rough patches in the past, and he'll have a battle on his hands with redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman, but he has a chance to put up some numbers this fall if he's named the guy. Also, having some of those talented youngsters to throw to won't be so bad.