The job of naming “breakout players” is a broad and challenging task. It is a bold prediction at best, and a shot in the dark at worst. Knowing this, I chose to go to some of the most knowledgeable Bulldog fans for ideas on the subject. The Elite Dawgs message board has an outstanding reputation as being one of the best sources of all things Maroon and White, and it was interesting to see the varying responses on who the posters felt would be the breakout players for the Bulldogs this season.
On offense, as expected, many of the ED faithful hoped that a wide receiver would be a breakout player considering how that position is one with many unknowns. A poster known as “smootness” even said “We better hope the breakout offensive player is a WR.” I totally agree. We are going to need someone to step up in a big way to compliment Donald Gray at the receiver spot. There were some posters who made good arguments for other players such as Gray or Aeris Williams, however I don’t feel as though players like those fit into what a breakout player really is. The poster “bulldogsmsu” made a great point about this very thing, saying “breakout players to me are players who are way under the radar.” As for my prediction for offensive breakout player, I am going to go with Jamal Couch. “Doggie_Style” says that “with the lack of experience coming back at the receiver position, Couch will get the chance to have a breakout year.” There were other players who were mentioned that very well may end up having breakout seasons as well. Keith Mixon has the potential and quickness to be a major player, and Jordon Thomas’ sheer size alone makes him a potentially huge weapon for the Dawgs. Still, I stick with my original pick, Jamal Couch.
There are many players that I think we should be watching on this side of the ball. Cory Thomas started some last year and is slated for a big season under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. ED poster “SmokeyDawg” made the argument that Cory will “be one who eats up blocks making the LB’s job easier.” I will definitely be looking out for Big Cory, but he’s not my choice for breakout player on defense. Poster “tcdog70” predicts Jeffery Simmons, but again I would not really consider someone with as much fanfare as Simmons to be considered a breakout player no matter how well he performs. It’s expected from him at this point. The guy I chose as my breakout player on defense is not even listed as a starter at the moment, however I feel that Jamal Peters will finish the season as not only a starter at corner but an All-SEC performer. He has all the tools and then some. We tend to forget that last season Peters was learning the corner position. By the end of the season, he was making huge plays in clutch moments. As if you needed another reason to watch the 2016 Egg Bowl again, go back and focus on what a great job Peters did against some of the SEC’s best receivers. For these reasons I think Bassfield native Jamal Peters will be the breakout player on defense for the Bulldogs.
If these two guys, Couch and Peters, breakout the way that I am expecting them to, State will be a much better team than many predict. Only time will tell!