Second-half breakout players
We're pleased to say we had more hits than misses among our preseason selections for breakout candidates in 2012.
Jadeveon Clowney, who ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said this week would be the No. 1 pick if he were eligible in 2013, was a home run. We had Braxton Miller, a legitimate midseason Heisman candidate, second. Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton and Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson also have had solid first halves. So have Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.
As for the misses? Jordan Hicks' hip injury derailed the first part of his season -- and Texas has come unglued defensively in his absence. Andrew Maxwell at Michigan State? Our bad on that one. That whole offense has been a letdown.
We overestimated Dorial Green-Beckham's arrival at Missouri. We had the wrong Georgia runner, going with initial starter Ken Malcome over the "Gurshall" combo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. "Georgia will run enough to likely make a star out of someone," we wrote in August. "Who will it be?" At least we were on the right track.
Let's give the second half a shot, selecting a list of all-new players to watch from now until December. As we wrote in August in making our preseason list, picking "breakout" players is an inexact science -- I'll define it by saying that these are players likely to have big jumps in performance in the second half of the season. This includes lesser-known players stepping into larger roles and established guys ready to go on a tear.
1. De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon Ducks
We're waiting. We obviously know what DAT is capable of, as a runner, receiver and returner.
"He's the fastest player I can ever remember seeing up close," one Pac-12 coach told me last month. "Almost indefensible sometimes when he gets going."
To read Travis Haney's full blog on breakout player candidates for the second half, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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