As I have finished combing through most of the incoming freshman, I now turn my sights to second year players who should still have a good chance to make their mark as teenagers, putting them on a path to future college football success. The reasons these players did not blow up as true freshmen in 2020 are varied but they all have arrow trending up for next season. The only exception I made is for Kimani Vidal who accumulated 741 all-purpose yards but did it for Troy University, so I would still count him as a sleeper.
Whether it is a college football start up or a deep devy draft these players are worth a look to have on the back end of your roster before 2021 kicks off because their value is liable to skyrocket.
|Haynes King||6’3″||200||QB||2-4 59y passing; 6-43 rush|
I completely forgot about King until Matt Hicks pointed him out on an episode of “Why Wait Till Sunday?”. He was a nice pickup by Jimbo Fisher and is an athletic signal caller with some exciting upside. We don’t have much on tape from his freshman year, save for a few series in a blowout loss to Alabama.
His throwing motion is a little funky and I am not convinced he has a high caliber arm but Texas A&M is a very good team with some of the better weapons in college football. King should walk into a premium environment to put up numbers right away. If he looks good, his stock will rise tremendously between now and 2022.
Notable departures: Kellen Mond Incumbent: none
|Beau Allen||6’2″||207||QB||3-7; 40 yards|
A true wild card is 10th on this list, but the upside is worth mentioning. Beau Allen threw for almost 12,000 yards as a four year starter and came close to Tim Couch’s high school production numbers. I think Allen should have the inside track to throwing on Saturdays because the Wildcats brought in a new offensive coordinator off the L. A. Rams staff. Kentucky should move away from the ground and pound they’ve used with Terry Wilson Jr and move towards a more wide open passing attack.
Allen will have to hold off Joey Gatewood, but Gatewood is nowhere near the passer Allen is and not suited for the new scheme. Allen Trieu of 247sports had a very optimistic summary of Allen’s potential noting his “smarts, accuracy and touch” but adds that he’ll have to add bulk to be an NFL prospect. For now, he is certainly an intriguing college football quarterback.
Notable departures: Terry Wilson Jr. Incumbent: none
|Demarkcus Bowman||5’10”||190||RB||9-32 rush|
There are many athletes that could be the top player on this list but none can go from zero to hero quite like Bowman. The Lakeland High School product boasts a 10.4 100 meter dash and is excellent at manipulating defenders in space, utilizes a variety of evasive moves and has quality hands. His transfer from Clemson to Florida after a few weeks does not appear to be performance related but more due to family ties.
Bowman, who is being drafted in the 4th-6th rounds of Campus 2 Canton mock drafts, is a discount TreVeyon Henderson. The difference between the two? Henderson regularly goes in the 2nd round. Neither has proven it on a college field but Bowman is now available at a deep discount because of the awkward transfer last season. He has all the tools you could want in a running back and there is a real possibility he is a 1st round C2C/Devy pick 12 months from now.
Notable departures: none Incumbents: Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis
|Keyvone Lee||6′||230||RB||89-438-4 rushing; 12-66 receiving|
This one is really quite simple. Rostering Lee is a calculated gamble that an athletic, 230 pound running back from Penn State will be successful in the NFL. That really isn’t a bad bet to make given recent history. The Florida product likely will begin the 2021 season as the lead back and is a great candidate to rise in value throughout the college football season.
He is nimble even at his size and has soft hands which was part of his prospect profile as a recruit. He caught 6 passes in one game against Iowa and had 3 additional games with 2 receptions. I am very excited to see what he can do with a full off season to prepare for feature back duties in 2021.
Notable departure: Journey Brown Incumbent: Devyn Ford
|Kimani Vidal||5’8″||214||RB||101-516-4 rush; 26-225 receiving|
I did not know Vidal’s name until the very end of the season when he popped for me as a Draft Kings play in Troy’s bowl game. He played at Marietta High with the aforementioned Harrison Bailey and stud tight end Arik Gilbert, but did not receive the same attention on the recruiting trail. He runs like a back of his size and shape should, with a low center of gravity and a good thump.
The real promising attribute is that Vidal was used heavily in the Troy passing game, with 26 receptions in 9 games. He was used as a true bell cow over the last half of the season and while he wasn’t terribly efficient I think he may improve in that area as the college game slows down for him.
Notable departure: none Incumbent: none Transfer In: La’Damian Webb
|Jalen McMillan||6’1″||185||WR||1-16 rec; 2-14 rush|
The Washington offense should get a boost with 5 star stud Sam Huard entering the fold. With Puka Nacua transferring, there is a lot of uncertainty at the wide receiver position for the Huskies. McMillian was the top offensive recruit in Washington’s 2020 class and will benefit from Huard’s strong arm.
Already possessing NFL speed, McMillian is the best bet to rise to the top of the target tree and see a break out in 2021. He will then get a second year with Huard to solidify a good career and hopefully head to the NFL. This offseason may be the lowest ADP McMillan has for quite some time.
Notable departure: Puka Nacua Incumbents: none
|LV Bunkley-Shelton||5’11”||190||WR||11-100 receiving|
I really could be convinced to swap McMillan and LVBS on this list. Bunkley-Shelton has the more established quarterback and technical skills as a receiver but from what I can tell not quite the overall athletic profile of McMillan.
He has a thick, stocky frame and good quickness that he uses for crisp routes. LVBS looks like a very good receiver who will outperform his athletic testing on the field. He quietly led the Sun Devils in receptions and will be Jayden Daniels’ top target again in 2021. With a full season to make noise his breakout will be much louder than in 2020.
Notable departure: Frank Darby Incumbent: none
|Jalin Hyatt||6’||175||WR||20-272-2 receiving; 1-3 rushing|
One of my favorite sleeper receivers last year is back again and I look to be going down with the ship. This is admittedly a risky ranking. If run-first transferee Hendon Hooker wins the starting QB job in Knoxville, I can kiss Hyatt’s fantasy value goodbye. However, I am also assuming that standout recruit Harrison Bailey will be throwing the ball.
Hyatt is one of the fastest players in college football and possesses deft route running ability. His high school tape showed excellent hands and body control, making tough catches in tight spots. As a freshman, he was involved but was used sparingly, logging 9 receptions in 2 games towards the end of the season. His best play of the season was a roasting of Alabama safety Jordan Battle for a 50 yard touchdown.
Notable departure: Josh Palmer Incumbent: none
The upside with Omeire is ridiculous. A wideout with his size is rare enough but he has verified sub-4.7 speed which is good enough in high school to project NFL athleticism. He is about as close to an actual sleeper you can get, and no one is talking about him. Well, almost no one. My colleague here at campus2canton.com Felix Sharpe has been all over it. Check out his piece for more on Omeire.
In a nutshell, he is a prototypical X receiver who can easily be the top target for a new and (hopefully) improved Texas offense in 2021. Truly the kind of player that could go from complete unknown to one of college football’s top 10 receivers in short order.
Notable departures: Brennan Eagles Incumbent: Joshua Moore, Jake Smith
Part of the legendary 2020 Ohio State wide receiver class, Cooper made the right choice to move on to greener pastures. C2C’ers, Devy managers, and Draftniks all hope Cooper can shine before he is in his twenties, as early production should boost his draft stock significantly. While he takes a step down in team prestige, he certainly is not facing any worse competition in the SEC. Cooper is a legitimate deep threat and a dynamic playmaker Missouri needs.
Whispers have already floated out of Columbia that the staff wants to feature him in the passing game as well as on the ground, with Cooper frequently taking jet sweeps to the house in practice. He returned kicks in the spring game held last week, so it’s no secret that the team wants to get him touches in every way possible.
Notable departures: none Incumbent: Jalen Knox, Tauskie Dove