10 College Football Players Who Will Benefit Most from Offseason Workouts
Now that coaches can make summer workouts mandatory—as if they weren't mandatory before—they can more closely monitor players. It's up to the coaches if they want to utilize that time, but let's be honest: They do.
For some players who are developmental projects, or who could be called into action quickly this season, this is a good thing. It's especially helpful for freshmen who are still transitioning to the college game.
Which young players around college football stand to benefit the most from summer workouts? Our answers are in the following slides.
Texas Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes
Because of a foot fracture to presumed starter David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes took the first-team snaps in Texas' spring game. Swoopes got off to a slow start, but he rallied in the second half.
There's no doubt that Swoopes has the physical tools every quarterback coach dreams of having at his disposal, but he showed during limited time as a freshman and into the spring that he has a lot of work to do.
First-team reps aren't just going to be handed to Swoopes once preseason camp rolls around. He's going to have to earn them. He can make up a lot of ground on Ash, who has shown problems staying healthy, with a good summer.
LSU Quarterback Brandon Harris
Replacing Zach Mettenberger won't be easy, but LSU has what looks to be a rising star in freshman Brandon Harris, who was the star of the Tigers' spring game.
Harris will have a chance to show that he can make plays with both his arm and his legs this summer. He also needs to develop chemistry with LSU's more inexperienced wide receivers. There's a lot of room to grow for the offense this year anyway, especially with running back Leonard Fournette entering the fold.
If Harris is going to earn the starting job as a freshman over Anthony Jennings, he needs to get up to speed as quickly as possible in the offseason. That's where development under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in the summer would be crucial.
Florida State Center Austin Barron
This isn't Austin Barron's first summer workout. It's not even his second.
No, Barron has been around the college game for several years now. But this should be the first year he is Florida State's full-time starting center.
He, along with quarterback Jameis Winston, will be responsible for knowing every detail of the offensive playbook and every blocking scheme. The chemistry between him and Winston needs to be at its best.
That's what summer is for, and although Barron isn't learning things for the first time, he will be fine-tuning his game.
UCLA Linebacker Myles Jack
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack burst onto the college football radar last season as a freshman with 12 starts. He also doubled as an emergency running back and made headlines in the process.
But Jack's best chance to help the Bruins in 2014 is on the defensive side of the ball. With Anthony Barr in the NFL, this is Jack's chance to be the leader of the defense.
With that comes additional responsibilities. Jack needs to be the first one to show up to workouts and the last one to leave. For as good as he was as a freshman, he needs to be even better as a sophomore.
Summer is a time for Jack to improve on reading offenses and becoming a more complete player.
Alabama Quarterback Jacob Coker
All Alabama quarterbacks are essentially starting over with the addition of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. There's a new playbook to learn, and whoever grasps the concepts the quickest has the straightest shot to become the Tide's new starting quarterback.
In that sense, Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is even further behind than, say, Blake Sims. All quarterbacks will benefit from summer workouts, but Coker stands to gain the most ground.
The question is whether, between offseason workouts and preseason camp, Coker is able to do enough to instantly move into a starting role with the Tide.
Michigan Defensive Back Jabrill Peppers
Michigan is established at the defensive back position with Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor. However, blue-chip athlete Jabrill Peppers will be one of the most-anticipated arrivals of any freshman this summer.
There's a good chance Peppers could make his way onto the field this fall, but that's only going to happen if he makes enough strides this summer.
Adjusting to the speed of the college game, learning different coverages in Greg Mattison's defense and beginning the process of physically maturing are all things Peppers will be asked to do right away. With Michigan's defense looking to turn the corner following an average to below average 2013, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Mattison shakes things up.
If Peppers wants playing time, he has the raw talent to make it happen. He just has to put in the work.
Texas A&M Quarterback Kyle Allen
You could make a case that Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, who was suspended toward the end of spring for a public intoxication arrest, belongs here. Hill, after all, will be back in time for summer workouts, according to CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler.
However, early enrollee Kyle Allen can pick up where he left off in spring practices and show coaches the job is his to lose. In other words, he can come close to sealing the deal by the time preseason practices roll around.
Allen won't have any rust to shake off, and he can demonstrate his understanding of the playbook and leadership qualities.
Oregon Wide Receivers
OK, we're cheating. We could pick just one wide receiver who must improve this summer, but the reality is that all of Oregon's receivers have work to do.
With the reported knee injury to Bralon Addison, the Ducks have little experience beyond Keanon Lowe. Devon Allen, B.J. Kelley and Dwayne Stanford are just some of the guys who will be asked to make major strides this season. Thus, they all have a lot to prove during summer workouts.
Building chemistry with quarterback Marcus Mariota will be paramount, but so will refining all the aspects of playing receiver. From blocking to route running, all of these younger receivers need to step up in a big way to avoid a drop-off in the passing game in 2014.
Oklahoma Running Back Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon hasn't even played a down of college football yet and he's already drawing comparisons to Oklahoma great Adrian Peterson.
Comparisons are largely unfair, but if Mixon wants to live up to the hype and see playing time as a freshman, he has to hit the ground running in the summer.
Keith Ford is the Sooners' most experienced back, but not by much (134 yards and a touchdown in 2013). Therefore, the competition to earn a spot in Oklahoma's backfield is wide open. Given Mixon's blend of size, power and speed, he can make an instant impression before preseason camp gets underway.
Ohio State Center Chad Lindsay
As Ohio State tries to rebuild its offensive line from last year's senior-laden group, Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay looks to be an important addition.
Lindsay, who started four games last season for the Tide and is eligible to play immediately for the Buckeyes, adds some experience to a line that is lacking in that department. He seems like a natural replacement for Corey Linsley, but he must use summer workouts as a time to show that's the case.
Building chemistry with quarterback Braxton Miller will be one of the first things Lindsay will need to accomplish. He'll also have to come in and establish himself as a veteran leader, even though he'll have only recently joined the team.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
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