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Ten offensive spring practice standouts you need to know

5 min read
Ten offensive spring practice standouts you need to know

Spring football around the country is coming to a close.

Six FBS spring games will be played this weekend. Then, that’s it for spring football.

That makes this a good time to take a look at players who had breakthrough or especially impressive showings throughout the spring. After polling team sources around the country, here are 10 such players on offense (listed alphabetically):

USC freshman wide receiver Zachariah Branch

The five-star recruit has been as advertised through the early part of his time at USC. In addition to being set to make an impact at wide receiver, Branch is also in position to potentially be the Trojans’ punt returner. “It was a special first spring for him,” a source said. “He’s extremely competitive and well-rounded. Super impressive.”

Florida sophomore running back Trevor Etienne

Florida’s best two overall players may both be running backs, Montrell Johnson and Etienne. While Etienne was already a contributor last year, when he ranked second on the team behind Johnson with 719 rushing yards, he looks ready to be even better in Year 2. “He’s on a different level,” a source said. “Continuing to get better and show how good he can be.”

Alabama freshman running back Justice Haynes

Haynes was one of the top stars of the spring at Alabama and closed out the spring with three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s spring game on Saturday. Even with Alabama being deep at running back, Haynes is positioning himself to be a factor for the Tide as a freshman. “He’s a really good player,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said April 15. “He’s a really mature guy. He’s really smart. Nothing’s really too big for him. If you were just a guy sitting on a log watching, you would never know he was a freshman. He’s a very talented guy. He can make cuts. He can make you miss. He’s got some power. He’s got good speed. He’s a good receiver. He’s done a really, really good job all spring.”

Colorado junior wide receiver Jimmy Horn

Aside from quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter, Horn may end up being Colorado’s most impactful transfer addition. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Horn has “elite speed and body control“ and has impressed with how he “handles business like a pro.” Horn posted five touchdowns at South Florida last season — three receiving scores, one rushing TD and one kick return touchdown.

Auburn junior running back Jarquez Hunter

Back in early April, new Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze threw out a big-time compliment for his new running back. “I think Jarquez is special,” Freeze said. “I do. I think he’s probably the best running back I’ve ever coached, truthfully.” That’s how impressive Hunter was during the spring for the Tigers. After contributing as Tank Bigsby’s backup the last two seasons, Hunter now has a chance to show what he can do as Auburn’s No. 1 back. The Tigers’ staff is expecting a big year from him. One Tigers source said Hunter may be the best player on Auburn’s team.

LSU senior wide receiver Kyren Lacy

Lacy delivered one of the top plays of spring game season during LSU’s spring game on Saturday, an acrobatic, leaping one-handed catch that he turned into a 70-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. It capped an impressive spring for the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Lacy, a former Louisiana transfer who recorded 24 catches for 268 yards last year in his first season at LSU. “He’s come a long way,” a source said. Lacy had totals of 50 catches, 668 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons at Louisiana before transferring to the Tigers.

Kentucky senior quarterback Devin Leary

Even after losing potential top-five NFL draft pick Will Levis, Kentucky may not experience too much of a step back at quarterback. Combining Leary with the return of Liam Coen at offensive coordinator, the return of the Wildcats’ top receivers from last year and additions like running back Ray Davis and offensive tackle Courtland Ford, there’s a lot of optimism in Lexington about Kentucky’s offense. Leary, an NC State transfer, accumulated 35 touchdown passes with just five interceptions for the Wolfpack in 2021 before being limited to six games last year due to an injury. “He’s the real deal,” a Kentucky source said.

South Carolina senior wide receiver Xavier Legette

Legette is back at South Carolina for a fifth year after catching 18 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown last year. He should end up being one of the top weapons at wide receiver for quarterback Spencer Rattler, who’s on pace for an improved season under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Legette is considered one of the top pound-for-pound athletes on the Gamecocks’ roster. “He’s got a chance to be a good player,” a source said.

Georgia freshman tight end Lawson Luckie

Back in 2021, there was a freshman tight end at Georgia who impressed to the point where it was clear to people around the program that he was going to be a special player. It was Brock Bowers, who has since earned All-American honors each of the last two years. While this isn’t a prediction that Luckie is going to be the next Brock Bowers, the feedback on Luckie this spring has been reminiscent of that 2021 spring buzz on Bowers. “That kid’s going to be a good football player,” a source said. “He’s just got a different edge about him.” The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Luckie finished the spring with three catches for 48 yards in Georgia’s spring game. He had three touchdown catches in one of the Bulldogs’ earlier spring scrimmages. Luckie, a four-star recruit, ranked as the No. 8 tight end and No. 144 overall prospect in the 2023 On3 Industry Ranking.

Clemson redshirt freshman wide receiver Cole Turner

After ending last year with eight catches and 152 yards in Clemson’s final two games, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Turner “balled out” this spring for the Tigers. He’ll be a factor in Clemson’s receiver rotation. “He’s cleaner, more polished and really attacking the ball,” a source said. It could end up being a similar story as his older brother, Nolan, who arrived at Clemson as an unheralded recruit before becoming a productive player for the Tigers. The younger Turner ranked as the 184th-best receiver and 1,281st-best overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Industry Ranking.

The post Ten offensive spring practice standouts you need to know appeared first on On3.

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