Obvious and not-so-obvious breakout candidates for 2018

Football

Breakout candidates are always a topic of discussion in the offseason.

At times, it can be a dried out topic of repetitive names from all outlets.

So we’ve identified the obvious ones while focusing on some others going under the radar.

Here’s a look.

The obvious ones

These players are familiar to all those who keep track of offseason progressions, coach’s comments, etc.?I didn’t want to make a “top-5” list because it’d be these five obvious names, and you already know that.

Regardless, they have to be included on a list like this.

DT Mike DwumFour:?The New Jersey native will start alongside a top-notch defensive line that has two All-American caliber ends in Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary.

TE Zach Gentry:?The former quarterback recruit had two touchdown receptions and 303 yards receiving on 17 receptions. Former Michigan TE Jake Butt posted nearly-exact stats in his sophomore season before his historic junior season that saw him catch 51 passes for 654 yards and three touchdowns. Gentry’s breakout last season was good, but it’s got a chance to great in 2018.

OT James Hudson: The redshirt freshman saw zero snaps last year as a true freshman. His name’s been one of the most popular amongst the fan base and coaches following a strong spring camp. Will he win one of the two open tackle jobs? He’s got an edge at RT. If he does start, the questions becomes: Can Hudson be a breath of fresh air for this o-line that’s been the subject of consistent scrutiny?

DT Aubrey Solomon:?A member of Michigan’s highly-ranked 2017, Solomon announced his decision on National Signing Day and was the icing on the cake of a historic recruiting class. The sophomore saw time as a true freshman last season, posting 18 tackles, including two for loss.

LB Josh Ross:?Mike McCray’s likely replacement – barring a position battle loss to Devin Gil – Ross is a Michigan legacy with great football IQ, good speed and strong tackling ability. He’s a pretty easy breakout choice.

The not-as-obvious ones

These are some not-so-obvious picks to hit the scene with an impact in 2018. Nonetheless, a couple guys have been well-publicized elsewhere as potential breakouts.

LB Josh Uche:?The redshirt sophomore didn’t get the opportunity to do much last season with a couple linebackers in front of him. He found time to shine, though, registering a sack against Florida in Week One and notching the Big Hit of the Week against Maryland. He’s up to 238 pounds and has a nasty 6-foot-3 frame with great edge rush speed. Expect to see him a lot on the edge, though he likely won’t start. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple sacks and multiple TFLs out of Uche this season – starting or not.

OT Jalen Mayfield:?The true freshman has been widely known as his class’s standout in fall camp so far. He was a U.S. Army All-American coming out of high school but wasn’t talked about enough as an early impact guy. He’s going to battle for one of the tackle spots, likely at left, against Jon Runyan. Will he win the job before Week One? Probably not, but don’t count Mayfield out to catch up and find a way to start before season’s end. Either way, he’s going to be a high-impact guy for the program in the next couple seasons.

TE Nick Eubanks:?Eubanks came out with a bang in 2017, catching a Wilton Speight pass against Florida, one of the best offensive plays of the season for Michigan. Then Eubanks suffered an injury that kept him out for the bulk of the year. He finds himself behind Gentry and Sean McKeon in the tight end depth chart, but he’s as athletic as any in the TE room with a really solid catch radius. He’s a deep-threat and an end zone guy that could be big for points, despite likely having the least amount of snaps among the three rotational tight ends.

WR Nico Collins:?Collins hit the scene late in 2017, spelling Donovan Peoples-Jones. With the return of Tarik Black and DPJ, Collins won’t be?the?guy. Don’t count him out for big numbers, though. His large 6-4 frame with an improved skill-set in both his hands and blocking, Collins will push for more and more snaps as the season rolls on. He’s been the most impressive receiver in camp so far.

P Will Hart:?Yes, I just put a punter under ‘breakout stars’ because Hart didn’t get the nod last year. It was true freshman Brad Robbins who struggled down the stretch. I’ve heard from multiple people that Hart leads the way in the punting competition. Which has yet to be determined or announced. What a time.

The bold picks

The reason you came here(maybe, probably not).

Here’s a few guys that have impressed in camp, but have gone under the radar in doing so. And they might be a starter sooner than you think.

WR Oliver Martin:?If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, then you know I’ve been an Oliver Martin advocate since he exploded onto the recruiting scene in 2016 before his senior season in 2017. The slot receiver has some of the best – if not?the?best – hands amongst the receivers. He’s strong as hell, knows the playbook and is a great target on 3rd-down. He’s going to be tasked with being senior Grant Perry’s backup for now but he’s going to get some meaningful reps as the season goes on. He’ll be the guy in the slot in 2019.

WR Ronnie Bell:?If you can’t tell, the receiver room is pretty thin. Thus, younger guys are getting shots earlier than usual. Will true freshman Ronnie Bell get a shot this season? Probably not in a large amount of snaps, but he’s bound to see some time thanks to the new redshirt rule that allows him to play four games or less while keeping his redshirt. Bell’s been making a lot of noise in camp, and in order to keep Black and DPJ safe from injury in garbage time, Bell could be a guy that shines in what time he’s given.

DE Kwity Paye:?No one talks about Kwity Paye enough! He made the most of his minimal playing time as a true freshman, registering 5 tackles and 1.5 for loss. He’ll be heavy in the rotation this season as he spells Gary and Winovich. He makes his presence felt every time he’s on the field, even if the numbers don’t say that from his freshman campaign. He and Luiji Vilain – whose got a bright future – will hold down the fort for the future at end for Michigan.

That’s all for now – if your breakout star didn’t make it, don’t panic, I’ve been wrong before.

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