College football‘s 2013 season is almost here. Yes, I know that it is till just under three months away, but still, it’s still closer than what it was yesterday.
And while most stations and networks are covering the national powerhouses and superstar players, we’re about to take a different angle on looking at college football in 2013.
We’re going to bring you some underrated players heading into this season that you should get to know if you want to sound like the “cool” one at your watch parties. With that said, we’ll be breaking down the Oregon Ducks today.
Now an annual college football powerhouse, the Ducks are once again loaded and primed for a run at the Pac-12 and BCS National Championship. Star players such as Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu give Oregon quite the potency on both offense and defense. Yet it is not just their efforts that will bring them to glory.
Here are 5 underrated players on Oregon that you should get to know before the start of the season.
Tyler Johnstone – OL
Tyler Johnstone is one of my favorite Ducks. Relatively unheralded by the fans due to his position on the offensive line (a position unit that is always looked past), Johnstone was one of the key players on Oregon’s offense in 2012 and will look to be the same in 2013.
Now a redshirt sophomore, Johstone will continue to provide Oregon’s offensive line with a solid presence at left tackle, heading into his second year as the starter at the position.
Look for him to command the line while holding back opposing defenses with fellow standouts Hroniss Grasu and Jake Fisher.
Bralon Addison – WR
Bralon Addison flashed signs of brilliance last year, but look forthis year to be the season where he officially jumps onto the college football scene. Standing at just 5’10” and listed at 189 pounds, Addison needed to impove his hands over the offseason and has apparently looked like a much better player during offseason and spring drills.
Add in the fact that new wide receivers coach Matt Lubick knows how to really elevate his receivers to the next level and it is very likely that Addison will have his breakout year in 2013.
Byron Marshall – RB
A lot of people right now believe that De’Anthony Thomas will be the impact running back for the Ducks in 2013, but that just isn’t the case. Instead, Byron Marshall, entering his second year with the program, will garner the most carries in 2013, allowing him to show the rest of the nation why he was one of the more touted running backs in his class.
More of an in-between tackles kind of runner. Marshall will give the Ducks that power running back with speed that they love so much. Look for him to emerge as the next great back part of an Oregon system that has excelled at producing standout running backs.
Brian Jackson – FS
Brian Jackson had quite the shoes to fill in his first season as a starter at the free safety position. Replacing Eddie Pleasant, many were unsure of what Jackson could really bring to the Ducks after they had so much success at that position in recent years.
Well, all Jackson did was become a force in the secondary who cleaned up opponents like he had been doing it his whole life. Helping the Ducks’ secondary to a national-best 26 interceptions in 2012, look for Jackson to continue improving and have his breakout year in 2013.
Taylor Hart – DT
Taylor Hart has been a force at Oregon throughout his career, yet has gone relatively unheralded by the national media and other outlets who look at the Ducks.
Heading into his senior year, Hart will need to play better than ever as he looks to help mitigate the losses of Isaac Remington and Dion Jordan along the defensive line.
Expect him to do just that, too, as he will emerge as one of the standout defensive players on Oregon’s 2013 unit and really help them stuff the line and force opponents to attack the edges, areas that the Ducks excel at getting to.