Breakout Players: SEC East

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve given you a list of names in the West, here’s the Eastern Division’s turn.


Sophomore RB Matt Jones -- Coming into the spring, yours truly believed that it was only a matter of time before super recruit and Florida legacy Kelvin Taylor (early enrollee) locked up the Gators' starting running back job. Jones, however, had something to say about that, and appears to have cemented his role in the backfield. That's interesting, because for a team that was so run-heavy in 2012, Florida really didn't use many other tailbacks besides Mike Gillislee (Jones had all of 52 carries). The passing game still has a lot to prove here, so I would expect a big workload for Jones in 2013.


Junior WR Jonathan Rumph -- He was one of the top JUCO receiver targets in the country, along with LSU's Quantavious Leslie. Only Rumph was actually able to make it to campus this spring, and quickly cemented his role in Georgia's starting lineup opposite Malcolm Mitchell. Expect him to get a lot of red zone looks from Aaron Murray do to his 6-5, 215-pound frame.


Sophomore QB Maxwell Smith -- Few SEC quarterbacks have had a rougher introduction to college football than Smith, but he still put up decent numbers in just four games last year, and led the Wildcats in passing. He fits the profile of the type of player that hits the ground running in a high-octane Air Raid offense like the one new OC Neal Brown is bringing (back) to Lexington.


Senior QB James Franklin -- In 2011, Franklin had nearly 4,000 yards of offense and accounted for 36 combined rushing and passing touchdowns in the Big 12. And yes, the SEC is clearly a major adjustment in terms of defensive talent, but it certainly doesn't help when your offensive line loses all five starters at different points, and you struggle with a shoulder injury. Franklin returns three talented wideouts, including former top recruit Dorial Green-Beckham, so I expect his 2013 to look a lot closer to 2011. How much closer, is the question.

South Carolina

Sophomore RBs Mike Davis & Brandon Wilds -- I'm going to hedge this slightly and pick the top two backs on Sakerlina's depth chart, both of whom have had success spelling Marcus Lattimore in the past. Now they have the job to themselves. With a real go-to wideout, this offense will still be built largely around the spread running game with QB Connor Shaw. That will still translate to a lot of carries for the running backs.


Junior RB Marlin Lane -- Butch Jones has a fairly clean slate to work with on offense for the Volunteers, aside from a veteran offensive line. The only real proven playmakers returning are the running back tandem of Lane and Rajion Neal. Lane has shown a little more versatility, which means he'll likely get some more feature time in Jones' up-tempo spread offense.


Senior CB Andre Hal -- What is it about Vanderbilt defensive backs? They always seem to have one that's good enough to play for just about anybody else in the league, surrounded by a lot of meh. Hal is the league's returning leader in pass break-ups, and with a lot of big names gone amongst SEC defensive backfields, he could be due for some recognition this year.

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