Thursday, February 23, 2012
Poll: Who will be an SEC spring surprise?
By Edward Aschoff
Spring doesn't just bring pretty flowers and more favorable weather, it brings new and fresh opportunities for college football players.
Somewhere, a surprise or two are lurking.
So, we've come up with five potential spring surprises in the SEC, and we want you to vote on them. These players could earn themselves starting jobs, more playing time for the fall, more praise from coaches and teammates, or just do things that make us look at them twice.
Can LSU junior safety Craig Loston be that guy? He played in 10 games last year, with no starts, and was considered one of LSU's top reserves at safety. He did most of his work on special teams, but with Brandon Taylor gone, maybe this is Loston's time to break through and finally start. His potential has been raved about since he arrived, but he just hasn't taken the next step in his game. Maybe he'll do that this spring.
Then there's Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who has a chance to come in and play at the Jack position -- the same position held by Courtney Upshaw. No big deal, or anything. He played in eight games during his redshirt freshman year, recording nine tackles. And while he isn't Upshaw, he could really make noise off the edge this spring with his speed. The coaches have been pretty excited about his potential in this defense.
Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy at Florida is another youngster to keep an eye on. He played mostly on special teams last season, and while he's pretty raw, Florida coach Will Muschamp has said that he thinks Purifoy, a rising sophomore, could be a solid corner in this league with his size and athleticism. With Marcus Roberson coming off of an injury and Jeremy Brown's status for the spring unknown, this could be Purifoy's chance to step away from special teams and make a real impact in Florida's secondary.
Wide receiver Joe Morrow at Mississippi State redshirted in 2011, but that doesn't mean the coaches weren't impressed with what they saw from the freshman in practices. He wasn't physically ready to compete at the beginning of last season, but by the end of the season he was making all kinds of plays in practice. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has the speed to be a real downfield threat for the Bulldogs, something they've lacked in their offense for the past few years. He'll get his shot to take reps away from veterans and could help evolve Mississippi State's offense.
Finally, there's Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. During his freshman season, Richardson lined up for field goals and extra points, but he's a talented, athletic lineman who could break through on an offensive line that has a lot of returnees, but struggled at times last fall. Richardson was a top lineman recruit coming out of high school and has pretty good measurables (6-6, 325), so he will get his shot at a spot this spring.