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Breakout Players: SEC West

What names might you know a lot better in October?

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, part of the beauty of college football is that star players move on an new ones pop up every year. 2013 will be no different in the SEC, and here's a best guess at some of the players you might not know about now that could be breaking out this fall.


Freshman TE O.J. Howard -- One of the best recruits in the country at his position last year, Howard is big and lean with the receiving talents to see the field early for Bama. Amari Cooper is a great deep threat receiver, and T.J. Yeldon will do a lot of damage out of the backfield in the passing game as well, but it wouldn't shock me at all if Howard develops into a safety valve target and red zone favorite for A.J. McCarron.


Junior RB Cameron Artis-Payne -- A JUCO transfer, Artis-Payne is a stocky back that projects as the thunder to Tre Mason's lightning. He also showed a knack for catching the ball in Auburn's spring practices. This is an offense that doesn't have a lot of proven weapons, anybody that shows some ability is going to get a lot of chances with the ball.


Sophomore WR Mekale McKay -- I would expect this year's Razorbacks team to lean very very heavy on their running game. They have some experienced blockers, a couple of talented young backs and a very shaky quarterback situation. But somebody has to catch passes, and I'm betting the 6-6 McKay is going to be doing most of that this season. He flashed some big-play potential at times, and with a big body it's that much harder for quarterbacks to miss.

Mississippi State

Sophomore MLB Benardrick McKinney -- He had a very quiet 102 tackles in 2012, and will be asked to help lead a Mississippi State defense that will be somewhat young and rebuilding this season. McKinney is a big, rangy middle linebacker, the kind that tends to excel in the Bulldogs' fire-zone-blitzing scheme.

Ole Miss

Senior RB Jeff Scott -- This is weird to say, because Scott's not only a senior but a returning starter. But he's always impressed me, and now he should be in for to bear the Rebels rushing load. And he could be one of the better all-purpose runners in the SEC.

Texas A&M

Sophomore DE Julien Obioha -- A Louisiana kid that LSU just couldn't quite find room for, Obioha hit the starting lineup early out of high school and by midseason, it was pretty clear that he was the Aggies' second-best lineman behind Damontre Moore. With a year of improvement under his belt, I expect him to blossom.