Every spring, fans and writers around the area try and predict on who they think will be the surprise break out players of the spring. Each year, those same fans hope that they are finding the next DeAndre Reaves, Rodney Allen, Ryan Bee, etc, and not former spring stars such as Nate Manns.
Herdhaven.com jumps into the mix this spring with our prediction on who we think will breakout this spring and parlay that into a great 2016 season. Both predictions this season are not only based on ability but also based on need.
Last season the outside receiver spot was owned by Davonte Allen. Allen led the team in receiving yards, but never was able to consistently take the “top off of the offense” so to speak. Several times, the ball was thrown up and the outside guys did not go up and make the plays for the quarterbacks. Several other times, they would lose track of where they were on the field and their route would take them out of bounds. One would think this would have to be an area of focus this spring.
Michael Clark left Lakewood High school in 2014 bound for St. Francis University in Pennsylvania to play, basketball. He averaged over 20 points as a junior in high school, and standing at 6’7”, and 200 pounds, became a division 1 hoops player. He stayed one season with St. Francis, playing 12 games and scoring just 6 points. He transferred to Marshall last season to play football with long time friend, Chase Litton.
Clark, who will wear jersey number 83 at this time, blasted onto the scene and was close to unstoppable at times on the scout team. He will be expected to come in and play early and often on the outside, bringing size and some speed to a position that has been quiet since Aaron Dobson took his talents to the NFL three years ago.
Clark’s size should give Litton a very nice target on the outside, Clark will need to show the ability to make those catches. If he can, and there is no indication that he wont be able to, he could end up starting by the time September 10th arrives. If Clark is able to play, and become a factor, it will move attention away from Deontay McCmanus on the other side and allow him to regain his freshman form and production.
That takes care of the outside, but what about the inside. Doc Holliday always talks about needing seniors to step up and have career seasons.
Last season, DeAndre Reaves blasted out of nowhere and had a career year, and was clearly the most valuable offensive player on the team. Reaves had been behind Tommy Shuler for three years with no where to go. He began last spring as an outside receiver before moving into the slot, where he shined.
Reaves ended the season with 56 catches and 705 yards, good for second on the team. He had 4 touchdown receptions, 2 kick off returns for touchdowns and 1 punt return for a touchdown.
That poses the question, can anyone become this years Reaves. And if so, who?
Herdhaven.com believes that they have an idea of who that player might be.
The recruiting class of 2013 contained a wide receiver out of Fort Pierce Central High School. The 6’1”, 195 pound wide out came in and played on special teams as a true freshman, and was never redshirted. In the next two seasons he would accumulate just 5 total catches for 57 yards and zero touchdowns. This off season his name was everywhere. Seemingly every week he was winning some form of golden spikes award with off season workouts. The spikes came on Tempo Tuesday.
Knight is simply in a spot where he has to produce. He looks to have a great shot at playing time at the slot position vacated by Reaves and previously by Shuler. Knight is bigger, and faster than Shuler but must find a way to get open in space.
So, in conclusion, every year spring practice contains those spring warriors who never really produce once the season begins, although, that is something that has not happened nearly as much since the arrival of Holliday. Doc seems to have the ability to get his players to maintain that confidence and ability throughout the summer and into the upcoming football season.
Numbers 83, Clark, and 84, Knight, will be crucial in pushing this offense to levels that it is capable of reaching.
Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.