Photo courtesy of South Carolina athletics
Every year, there are a handful of players who explode onto the scene in college football.
Some of those players you have probably heard of, but there’s certainly some that you haven’t. No league in the country has more talent than the SEC. Naturally, some are bound to burst onto the scene.
With the 2021 season coming up, we look at 21 potential breakout players to keep an eye out for. We start with the SEC East.
Gervon Dexter, DT
Dexter was towards the top of the rotation as a freshman last year for the Gators. Now, the former five-star might be ready to be a difference maker up front. Florida brings in some transfers to help remediate for losses up front, but none have the ceiling that Dexter does. Dexter should continue to develop and be even more productive during his second year in Gainesville.
Keon Zipperer, TE
Florida will need to replace a generational tight end talent in Kyle Pitts. Zipperer will split time with Kemore Gamble at the position, but Zipperer seems to be more versatile and skilled. If Zipperer can be even half as productive as Pitts, Florida should be very pleased. He will get every opportunity to make an impact.
Arian Smith, WR
It’s a loaded wide receivers room for Georgia, but Smith’s game-breaking speed will be difficult to keep off the field. Smith was more of a depth piece last year for the Bulldogs, but seemed to make a big play every time he touched the field. To be more specific, both of Smith’s receptions were for more than 30 yards. Now, Smith will get more opportunities to step up in a receivers room flooded with injuries.
Kelee Ringo, CB
UGA loses a ton of talent in the secondary, and the former No. 1-ranked cornerback prospect should help ease those losses. Ringo has an elite skill-set with a strong and sturdy frame. Now, it’s about getting on the field and taking advantage of his opportunities.
Tyler Badie, RB
Badie has been backing up one of the best running backs in school history in Larry Rountree. Now, he will finally get his shot going at being the guy heading into his fourth season. Badie has a different skill-set than Rountree, but is dynamic as a receiver and extremely versatile. With more touches, Badie could be a real weapon for Missouri.
Mookie Cooper, WR
Cooper didn’t see the field last year for Ohio State, but is now in a much more favorable depth chart. The former Buckeye is a smaller receiver with yards-after-catch ability — a perfect fit for the offense. Cooper’s last game played came during his junior year of high school, so he’s raw. Still, it’ll be hard to keep him off the field.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Marshawn Lloyd, RB
Kevin Harris was electric for South Carolina last year. As a matter of fact, he led the SEC in rushing. Still, Lloyd is good enough to take some carries away from Harris. The former five-star prospect has the potential to be an elite player at this position when healthy. In whatever role he’s playing, he’ll make an impact. It’s all about staying on the field now.
Jordan Burch, EDGE
Burch wasn’t super productive as a freshman, but the former five-star still has a lot to give. With a year under his belt, he should be ready to make a huge jump in his second season. South Carolina needs to improve its pass rush, and Burch should be a key source of that improvement.
Jalin Hyatt, WR
Hyatt is one of the fastest players in the country, and should thrive in the new offensive scheme. With the Volunteers having to replace some talent at wide receiver, Hyatt should be one of the premier targets on the roster. Hyatt has game-breaking ability. Now, it’s about getting him on the field. New head coach Josh Heupel wants to throw the football around this fall, and Hyatt could end up being the top guy out wide for the Volunteers.