NittanyNation mailbag: Breakout players
February, 15, 2013
By Josh Moyer | ESPN Insider
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesLinebacker Mike Hull's strength and athleticism make him a great candidate to become a breakout star.
Welcome to NittanyNation's bi-weekly mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions this week, and we've selected three to answer in-depth.
Adam Puzio (@Adam_Puzio) writes: Who do you think will be the biggest breakout players (the Robinson/Carter/Barnes/Amos) of 2013?
Josh Moyer: Well, you gave me four names -- so I'll give you four. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: Linebacker Mike Hull. He had the highest bench press on the team, better than the likes of 324-pound DT DaQuan Jones. He was also so quick that former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley once tried him out at safety. He's not the prototypical size of a linebacker, but he has pretty much everything else going for him. He was a big-play magnet last year, and he could be the next big thing at Linebacker U. In a secondary that's lacking depth, Hull's pass-coverage ability will be extremely important.
As far as the other three, I'm really high on OT Donovan Smith. You saw, early in the season, the impact his absence had on the line. When Adam Gress was in there instead of Smith, it was completely different. Smith has NFL potential, and I think this will be a big breakout year for him. I wouldn't at all be surprised if he made the All-Big Ten first team. The other two players I think are worth watching include wideout Eugene Lewis and defensive tackle Austin Johnson. Lewis, a high school quarterback, is an incredible athlete who just needed a season to learn routes and the playbook. He could slide into the No. 2 WR role this season. He's a playmaker.
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