I thought this would be fun, a secret weapon for the purposes of this post is to think about five players that aren’t on any preseason teams that I think will preform above expectations and opposing fans will ask, “Who’s this guy?” Here we go.
- RB Da’Leon Ward (5-10/180): I think most fans will have forgotten that Ward is on the team and they’re probably presuming that Ward was kicked off the team and he’s long gone. Well, he’s back, and to my eyes, he was the most impressive running back on the team in the spring. He hit the holes with authority and he’s much quicker than I remembered. I’d bet that part of that is that Ward knows what he’s doing rather than as a true freshman where he was probably guessing a lot. Well, Ward is the guy that I think will be special and he’ll turn heads this year, especially with the offense likely focused so much on the running game.
- IR De’Quan Bowman (5-11/190): I’m probably higher on Bowman than most. I think we tend to have guys that we like better than others and Bowman falls into that category for me, for whatever reason I’m cheering for him. Maybe it’s the loyalty, as he transferred her after two years at a JUCO, Bowman was redshirted, then spent a year behind Keke Coutee and Cameron Batson, hardly any snaps available. Well, he’s a senior and I thought he was also terrific this spring. Bowman waited his chance and I think he’s going to shine in his opportunity. As the spring ended, I think that Bowman had one of the cemented spots (I know it’s all fluid) and rightfully so.
- TE Donta Thompson (6-5/225): When Thompson lines up and people see that he’s lined up as a tight end, there will be lots of people that will make jokes. Old joke and tired jokes and then they’ll see how fluid Thompson is and how difficult he is to match-up with because of his size. I think early on, Thompson will be a guy that will get lots of early looks, he’ll be a guy that whoever is at quarterback will look to Thompson as a safety valve. Another guy that’s stuck with it after committing. A skinny wide receiver that’s bulked up nicely over the three years he’s been in the program and now he has his opportunity and I think he’ll have lots of opportunities because of his unique size.
- WR Antoine Wesley (6-5/200): Had Wesley stayed at inside receiver, I think he would have been higher, but at outside receiver, especially the X-receiver spot, it’s the toughest one to excel. For the longest time, the X-receiver has struggled and it’s up to Wesley to change that. Another guy that has very unique measurables and if Wesley is 200, I’d be shocked, but he did a terrific job of catching the ball this spring and with his leaping ability and size, Wesley is going to be a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses.
- RB Mason Reed (6-2/225): With Reed out pretty much all of last year with concussion issues, Reed’s return should signal a guy that’s in the backfield that will be a very effective blocker, something that I thought this team really lacked last year, despite the best efforts of Tyler Carr. Carr was more inline rather than in the backfield, so this gives Kingsbury, Johns and McGuire another option in the backfield to give opposing offenses significantly more looks. Reed’s ability to catch the ball should also be significant for the quarterbacks, something that we didn’t get to see for the spring, but I think his addition will be significant.