Photo credit: Vladimir Cherry/SMU athletics
Coming into the 2020 season, no one was expecting Ulysses Bentley IV to be Co-Rookie of the Year in the American Athletic Conference.
Yet, there he was, after leading the AAC in rushing yards.
So, who are some potential breakout stars for the Mustangs in 2021?
We have five on offense and five on defense to consider. In the first of a two-part series, we’ll look at the offense.
Also, none of the trio of Tanner Mordecai, Preston Stone, or Derek Green will be listed for this article. It’s worth getting out ahead of that one.
As for the blanket waiver from the NCAA, the 2020 season was not counted towards eligibility. This is different for some names if anyone looks at the roster on SMU’s website.
Jordan Kerley, WR (Sophomore)
The Arizona State transfer has returned to his home state to play out his final three seasons of eligibility. The former Sun Devil has a lot of untapped potential. He had six receptions as a rotational piece in 2019, and he opted out of the 2020 season.
With guys like Reggie Roberson, Rashee Rice, and Danny Gray, among others, the Mustangs have one of the most impressive wide receiver corps in the Group of 5. Understandably, finding a larger role this season might be a challenge for Kerley.
At 6-foot-2, Kerley is the second tallest wide receiver on the roster. He is only shorter than Calvin Wiggins, who is listed at 6-foot-4. With that height, it will be interesting to see if Kerley can exceed expectations and be a consistent contributor.
Dylan Goffney, WR (True Freshman)
As a true freshman in a stacked position group, the receiver from Cypress, Tex. has the time to learn and develop. But after an impressive spring, every SMU fan should have Goffney on their radar.
Maybe we’re a year early on predicting that he could be a breakout star, but that’s alright. With his natural talent and potential, we’d prefer to be on his bandwagon early rather than arriving late to the party.
Calvin Wiggins, WR (Redshirt Freshman)
Perhaps readers are catching on to a trend, but there is a lot of untapped potential in SMU’s wide receiver room.
As previously mentioned, Wiggins is 6-4 — a great asset for a receiver. As the old saying goes, “you can’t teach height”.
Wiggins has had trouble finding the field in the sea of solid receivers that SMU has been trotting out there the last couple of seasons. In the last two seasons, he’s appeared in 11 games, been targeted six times, and caught one pass for 13 yards.
After spending the last couple seasons developing, Wiggins could find himself contributing in four- and five-receiver sets as early as this season.
Also, the potential exists for the offense to take advantage of his height in the red zone and on deep passes.
TJ McDaniel, RB (Sophomore)
For SMU fans, it’s almost a little hard to believe that the 5-11 running back from Southlake, Tex. has appeared in only 11 games. Given the hype he had coming into last season, including McDaniel on this list would’ve seemed ridiculous this time last year.
But over the last two seasons, his game averages are nine carries for 48 rushing yards. For his career, McDaniel has four total rushing touchdowns.
Assuming McDaniel’s recovery from his broken ankle has him able to compete early in the 2021 season, he should be one of the primary running backs for SMU.
Combined with Bentley, SMU’s pass-heavy offense could have a sneakily good rushing attack.
A more balanced attack definitely comes with some major upside for the SMU offense. McDaniel having a full season at his full potential would go a long way.
Danielson Ike, OL (Redshirt Freshman)
Danielson Ike was SMU’s highest rated recruit in the class of 2019, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings. Originally from Nigeria, Ike also held offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan, and several more.
An offer list like that is all that should be needed to see the potential he has.
Despite this, he has only seen limited action. He did see some snaps at right guard early in 2020. However, the Auburn transfer Justin Osborne settled into that role as the season wore on.
SMU did not lose any starting snaps from the offensive line for next year. But with Ike’s potential and athleticism, he could fill in either of the guard or tackle spots if needed.