College Football: Which 2nd-Year Skill Players Will Break out in 2013?

Cory McCuneContributor IIIJune 20, 2013

T.J. Yeldon has already become a star in helping Alabama win a national title. Who else from his recruiting class will join him on the national stage in 2013?
T.J. Yeldon has already become a star in helping Alabama win a national title. Who else from his recruiting class will join him on the national stage in 2013?Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

College football has new stars every year.

Many players take a few years of seasoning before they burst onto the national scene, while others become stars the minute they step on campus.

Duke Johnson of Miami, T.J Yeldon of Alabama and Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall of Georgia didn't take long to leave their marks in their respective backfields.

Receivers like Texas A&M's Mike Evans, Maryland's Stefon Diggs and Alabama's Amari Cooper also made relatively easy jumps from high school to college.

While redshirt freshmen like Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Notre Dame's Everett Golson had huge seasons, the 2012 season didn't see many true freshmen lead their teams at quarterback.

So heading into the 2013 season, it will be interesting to see which of the 2012 recruiting class will shine in their first chance in the spotlight.


The 2012 Quarterbacks

The classes' top-rated quarterback, Gunner Kiel, will sit out the 2013 season because of a transfer to Cincinnati. Meanwhile, a handful of others will continue to wait their turn behind incumbents. 

Others are currently in position battles. 

One such player is Ford Childress, the sixth-rated pro-style quarterback in the class, at West Virginia. Despite the fact that the Mountaineers lost Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, if Childress wins the job, he will put up big numbers in head coach Dana Holgorsen's offense.

But the second-year quarterback with the best chance to shine will be Jameis Winston.

The long and athletic quarterback spent his first season at Florida State learning behind E.J. Manuel and will likely step into Manuel's shoes as the Seminoles signal-caller.

Winston has a big arm and plays baseball as well as football. His athleticism will be a weapon much like it was for Manuel.

If Winston is able to win the starting job, he has the physical ability to make a ton of plays for a Seminoles offense that will need to be better with all their losses on defense.


The 2012 Runningbacks

Johnson, Marshall, Yeldon and Gurley don't count. They already established themselves as playmakers. I'm looking for the other members of their class who could break out.

The most recognizable name in the 2012 class is Barry Sanders Jr. The son of the Detroit Lions legend will be one of the backs who will try to replace Stepfan Taylor at Stanford.

If Sanders wins the job, he will have what his father never had when he played with the Lions—a great offensive line.

Johnathan Gray at Texas deserves some mention here too. He will have a chance to build on his 700-yard freshman campaign.

But the running back who will make the biggest jump is Byron Marshall of Oregon.

The Ducks already have two great options with Mariota at quarterback and De'Anthony Thomas playing all over the field. But the one thing the Ducks won't have is Kenjon Barner.

That will open the door for Marshall, who will have to beat out Thomas Tyner.

Going back to 2001, the Ducks have had six different backs lead them in rushing. All six are in the top 10 in the school's rushing leaders. That's a good sign for Marshall.


The 2012 Receivers and Tight Ends

Dorial Green-Beckham was rated as the top receiver and maybe the best player in the class. While he didn't have a great freshman year, he had multiple catches in his last five games building toward his sophomore season.

If Missouri can figure it out at quarterback and Green-Beckham can become more consistent, he could have a great year.

While any number of young athletes could break out this upcoming season, I see Nelson Agholor having a big season.

Agholor was recruited as an athlete and was considered by many as a defensive back prospect out of Florida. But he quickly became USC's third-best receiver. 

With Robert Woods in the NFL and Marqise Lee at the top of every opponent's scouting report, Agholor will have plenty of chances to make plays.

Devin Funchess already had a solid year as a freshman at Michigan. But with the Wolverines going to a more pro-style offense, I expect the tight end to become an even bigger factor for Michigan. 

There are several talented, young tight ends around the country, but I expect Funchess to shine above the rest.

The 2013 season is a little more than three months away, so we won't have to wait much longer for it to begin. When it does, second-year players with unlimited potential will rise to the occasion. While many of them were mentioned in this article, several others will come as surprises.

It's all a part of what makes college football great.