I'll go with Glasgow out of the choices listed but I'm still optimistic that Jarrod Wilson develops into a competent starter this year.
2013 Surprise Fall Contributor
Heading into the 2012 season there was much concern over the lack of size of the interior DL. Spring Practice has us convinced that undersized Jibreel Black and hopefully breakout player Will Campbell would be manning those spots and we would survive.
Cut to 2012 Fall Practice and seemingly out of nowhere Quinton Washington emerged as the surprise starter. He went on to have a very good season and hopefully will continue this trend for 2013.
So I pose the question Who will be the surprise breakout starter/contributor for the 2013 season? Here are the candidates:
RB Drake Johnson
Spring Practice was the time for another RB to emerge as Toussiant was still on the shelf and all of the practice reps and carries were there for the taking. Aside from Justice Hayes grabbing the 3rd Down RB spot it didn't seem like anyone else had separated themselves. I was expecting to see more "OR" in the RB depth chart but surprise we see Johnson has used Fall Practice to clearly pass Rawls and the freshman. Speaking of the freshman I think this spot at the depth chart doesn't represent contribution ability but rather the best utilization of eligibility years. Touissant is the clear starter and Hayes should take the majority of 3rd Down plays, leaving only "breather" and "garbage" carries for the other RBs. Better to use Johnson than Green or Smith until and unless either of them show they are ready to take primetime carries.
LG Graham Glasgow
Glasgow had been in a battle with Miller for the Center spot for the Spring Practice and it seemed most of Fall Practice. Only recently did we start hearing Chris Bryant was going to start and almost just as quickly that he had been passed Glasgow. Hopefully Bryant still troublesome knee was not the reason Glasgow took the spot, but rather that once Glasgow got consistent snaps at LG he beat the guy would could have started in 2012. Hopefully this is not similar to 2011 when Barnum was the starter at LG but was injured, making us believe he would be good in 2012.
SLB Brennan Beyer
We have continuously heard praise for Cam Gordon's athleticism and playmaking ability while the only think I remember reading about Beyer that he is a good run defender. Yet he started the Spring Game and remains the co-starter. Here's hoping he has shown significant improvement and all his "hype" has been swallowed up by Fort Schembechler.
My choice for the 2013 Surprise Fall Contributor is Graham Glasgow. Really the only knock against him was his underwhelming recruiting profile, which history has shown means little when dealing with lineman.He is a third year lineman with the size and strength to be a very good player at LG.
Gardner. Not sure if anyone is reporting that he's going to be any good. Seems sort of flying under the radar to me.
Seriously though, was hoping the move for Allen Gant to SAM would maybe get him on the field in some capacity...since he wasn't on the depth chart, his contributions would thus be considered a SUPER SURPRISE. Sigh.
I'll go with Glasgow.
Glasgow by a BIG margin.
I can't go into detail but have it on moderate authority that Drake is 2nd only for internal reasons that mean exactly nothing.
Beyer and Gordon are an "OR" only because they're a situational platoon. Beyer will probably be the 3rd down extra end and they want to get him in there but your 1st down guy is Gordon.
Glasgow is going to start at left guard at the beginning of this year and may continue to do so through 2015.
So, on moderate authority, who is the real #2 RB? And is he a good candidate for breakout starter/contributor?
I think Smith has really started to emerge...with the Green weight issue + booboo, I wouldn't be surprised.
At the moment it's Hayes. In a few weeks it'll be one or both of the freshmen.
Does that mean you don't think that Dawson will crack the starting lineup until 2016? I was really counting on him to be a three year starter.
Given the choices, I have to pick Glasgow. Beyer will be good but not great, and Drake is behind a workhorse back and will have to deal with four players competing for his job all season.
Glasgow has beaten Bryant and Braden for the job. I hopehopehope he's the breakout of these three; if he is, we are probably in good/very good shape up front.
Two other guys that I thing could have impressive seasons are Jehu Chesson and Channing Stribling. Delonte Hollowell is another, less likely possibility.
Chesson and Stribling look good to me.
I agree on Jehu Chesson especially. Everyone is up in arms about Darboh being injured, and for good reason, but Chesson presents a downfield threat that we have not seen in quite some time. Look for him to get at least 2 touchdowns in the non-conference games
Thunder: sufficiently stolen
Of the three given, I'd say Glasgow. First it was Braden at guard, then maybe Bryant, but now Glasgow has challenged for the spot and probably may have taken it. I'm optimistic that it is Glasgow being competitive rather than others not being able to handle the position.
I think there is a possibility that Drake Johnson could have some production this season but there is alot of depth at the RB position and I do see one of the freshman making a push at some point.
I'll say Channing "Stringbean" Stribling as another suprise. I wasn't hearing much about him then there was a scrimmage video with alot of good plays by him and now he's #2 on the depth chart. All this happens in one week.
What can I say? I like the dude. Safety depth is pretty sketchy, as we have all discussed ad nauseum. I think he burns his redshirt, plays quite a bit more snaps than we are comfortable thinking about at the moment because either Furman isn't very good or Avery's nagging injuries continue through the season, and he acquits himself well. I have no data to support this claim, other than the fact that for whatever reason I think he is an underrated recruit and will be more game-ready than people give him credit for.
My guess on the RB depth is that the coaches are listing them in order of who would be best to play in the upcoming game.
One of the main things the coaches want is consistency. Right now the freshmen don't know the offense well enough to be as consistent as the upperclassmen, and can't be trusted in a game situation just yet. I'd be surprised if their names didn't hop up the depth chart as the season progressed.
I'll go with Stribling as my pick, passing Taylor by midseason and being a solid B1G corner. Nothing against Taylor. I hope he can hold his spot, but you made me guess.
That scrimmage video had him making several nice plays and he looks bigger than your average "stringbean".
Is the only reason Jarrod is starting cause of Avery being out?
When I think sleeper, I think walk-on (like Glasgow) or more like former walk-ons like Glasgow and Reynolds. However, a walk-on at a skill position is even more rare.
Just by virtue of lack of depth, you have to think Joe Reynolds is a sleeper.
Decent speed, decent height, might be a deep threat.
Or what about Jeremy Jackson. 6-3, might be a decent red zone target?
OK, I'm streching but playing time equals opportunity and Reynolds and Jackson may get a lot of it this year. Hoke singled both out as having improved and both have apparently looked decent this spring. So, those are my vote(s).
I think he has more potential to surprise and produce than Jackson does. If he can get himself open consistently, Gardner will get him the ball.
Reynolds is definitely my choice here. A year or two ago, Reynolds entering the game was a clear indication that we were running the ball (a fairly embarrassing tell). Now, he looks poised to be the #2 or #3 receiver in the offense. I've been very pleased with his play in the fall camp footage, and I am rooting for the kid come Saturday.
If a guy with his wheels could produce as a all-around back, he'd be a great weapon to come off the bench. Still not sure how really well entrenched he is in that #2 spot, though, but if he's there for now, we'll probably get a look at what he can do against Central.
I am going to go with Jake Butt. I think that the Darboh injury leaves us needing a large pass catcher, and Butt fits the bill. I think that Funchess is also going to get plenty of balls thrown his way, but out of his usual flex TE position. I think that Butt will play a bit out of position and go into the part of the field where we would have seen Darboh. It gives us another large target, but doesn't require him to do anything special with pass protection.
Also, Mario Ojemudia has been flying under the radar. While we weren't looking, he hit the buffets and got up to 250. I won't be surprised if he sneaks into the games in the second half. If he's playing opposite Frank Clark, he may be overlooked by blockers focusing on Clark, and get some good pressures. Whether the sack goes to Clark or Ojemudia, I think he may make some good contributions to the four man rush that Mattison is looking for.
What happened to all the Taco hype?
It still exists, but you have Frank Clark with historic-level hype and also Ojemudia who made some nice plays last season as a true freshman playing the same position. There will be times when they are on the field together, and Taco may play more than Ojemudia last year, but it doesn't look like he'll be on the field all that much.
A guy with his potential needs to become a difference-maker at least occasionally by his sophomore season. If he can collapse the interior of the pocket on key situations, that will greatly magnify the DE pass rush.
Justice Hayes, as 3rd down back, is another candidate. He's never shown much, but he's also never been in a position to maximize what's supposedly his best skill, taking people on in space.
If he wins the 3rd down back job, he'll get that opportunity. He'll be playing mostly against nickles and his running plays will be mostly draws, where there's a bit more space at the line. He'll also get a fair number of reception opportunities. Borges loves that throwback screen to the RB leaking out the back side and also likes the swing pass to the back out of the backfield. He'll also probably see a fair few number of catches as a safety valve as plays bread down. I could see him going for something like 300 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving with 5-6 TDs.
As mentioned previously, Clark (and to some degree Taco) have gotten the lions share of hype. Ojemudia was already a good slicing rusher last year. I see him coming in every time it is 3rd and long, as well as against passing teams to spell Clark. It fits with his skillset of quick rushing from the DT spot in high school.