2014 Stars On The Mend - Part 2
Clemson WR Charone Peake
2014 Stars On The Mend - Part 2. The 2014 season gets back a slew of banged up stars ready to shine.
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- Stars On The Mend – Top Ten
Time heals all wounds … at least that's the hope of coaching staffs from coast to coast.
To suggest that injuries and suspensions are an important component of this sport would be a gross understatement. Every program endures them. And every coach attempts to build depth throughout the year for when the inevitable occurs. Stars are not immune to mishaps, on and off the field, landing on some surgeon's gurney or some coach's doghouse about as often as the journeymen. More times than not, it's one of the lower extremities, like a knee or a leg, in need of repair. While schools have no choice but to adapt to the loss of fallen playmakers, it doesn't mean that their returns from rehab won't be greeted with excitement and sighs of relief.
Though they've been gone for various lengths of time, they certainly have not been forgotten. If all goes well during the offseason, a handful, in particular, have the talent to go from inactive to invaluable by mid-September.
25. WR Justin Scott-Wesley, Georgia
Just as Scott-Wesley was about to take flight and bolster a battered receiving corps, he had his wings clipped by an ACL tear in early October. At the time of the injury, the sophomore had caught 16 passes for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Scott-Wesley will take it slow during the first half of 2014 as he rehabs his knee. He might get additional time to rest when the season begins, too, courtesy of a marijuana arrest last November.
24. LT Devin Davis, Oklahoma State
Davis had already locked down the pivotal left tackle spot on the Cowboy line when he suffered a season-ending ACL tear during fall camp. The sophomore had been couched throughout the offseason as a rising star in the trenches, a powerful blocker with the footwork to slide effortlessly down the line. Since Davis had the entire fall and winter to recover, the staff is confident he'll be able to quickly recapture last year's encouraging form.
23. RB Mario Pender, Florida State
Pender was academically ineligible in 2013, missing out on a chance to contribute to a national title run. The ‘Noles obviously didn't need his services last fall, but that situation is going to change in 2014. Devonta Freeman and James Wilder have left early for the NFL, sapping the offense's backfield depth. Karlos Williams and Ryan Green are still in Tallahassee, but Pender, the five-star gem from 2012, possesses the explosive tendencies needed to enter the mix for reps in a hurry.
22. WR Charone Peake, Clemson
Peake was a luxury a year ago. In 2014, he'll be a necessity now that Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant have left school early for the NFL Draft. The 6-3, 200-pounder was on the cusp of a breakout junior year when he tore an ACL during a non-contact drill in September. Peake will be back in time for spring camp, but he will not absorb any contact. He'll test out the knee in March and April before really making a push for a starting gig in the summer.
21. CB Jordan Johnson, BYU
Johnson suffered a torn ACL last August and never played a down in 2013. The Cougars were forced to play without one of their better pass defenders and a returning starter from the 2012 season. As a sophomore, Johnson had 48 tackles and 15 pass breakups, displaying good instincts on his breaks. Although he will not take part in spring camp, the program does expect him to be at full speed in time for the opener.
20. S Isaiah Johnson, Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets didn't just lose a starter when Johnson was unable to fully recover from an ACL tear suffered at the end of 2012. They were forced to play without one of their inspirational, high-effort defensive sparkplugs. Johnson led Tech in tackles as a junior, but he hasn't suited up since the 2012 ACC Championship Game. He's itching to get back in the huddle now that he's had well over a year to completely rehab his hobbled knee.
19. DE C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss
Johnson's junior season was a wash before it ever got off the ground. He broke his leg early in spring, attempted to come back, but lacked his usual get-off. He aggravated the injury in a Sept. 28 loss to Alabama, and opted to go under the knife shortly thereafter. As a sophomore in 2012, Johnson successfully navigated a shift from linebacker by making 55 tackles, eight stops for loss and 6.5 sacks. Ole Miss wants to see what a healthy No. 10 can do when joined up front with Robert Nkemdiche and Issac Gross.
18. S Tyler Hunter, Florida State
The deep Seminole secondary never skipped a beat after Hunter went down in September, but that's no reflection on the safeties ability or potential. He's a versatile defender, with a future in the NFL. After starting the first three games of 2013, Hunter suffered a neck injury that required surging to repair a bulging disk. While the neck and back are always tricky areas, the senior-to-be has no doubts that he'll be in uniform for the start of the season.
17. WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M
The highly-touted Seals-Jones was ready to contribute in his first season on campus, but an opening day knee injury forced a medical redshirt instead. The 6-5, 225-pound uber-recruit caught three passes for 84 yards in his debut, but he was hurt on a 71-yard touchdown. By the end of the month, the program felt it was prudent to simply shut him down for the year. Seals-Jones, while still a little raw, has the right frame and the unmistakable potential to help offset the departure of Mike Evans to the NFL.
16. LB Jordan Hicks, Texas
One of these years, Hicks is going to remain healthy for four straight months and finally play up to his potential. New head coach Charlie Strong hopes that time arrives in 2014. While Hicks possesses the talent to be an All-Big 12 performer, he's had durability issues. In 2012, he missed 10 games to a hip injury, and last season was cut short by a torn Achilles. Hicks has one final year of eligibility left to audition for NFL scouts.
15. RB Keith Marshall, Georgia
Marshall was a part of the carnage that took place in Athens last fall, going down with a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 5. His loss was particularly crushing since backfield mate Todd Gurley played much of the year at less than full strength. Marshall has rushed for 759 yards and eight scores on 117 carries through two seasons, showcasing the skill set of a feature back. While the Raleigh native is working toward a full recovery, he could be a redshirt candidate if he's not ready for the opener.
14. LB Jake Fely, San Diego State
Fely isn't just the Aztecs' best defender. He's one of the premier defensive players in the entire Mountain West, which is why he was so sorely missed after breaking a bone in his foot in a Sept. 28 victory over New Mexico State. San Diego State's physical and emotional leader racked up 90 tackles, 11.5 stops for loss and seven sacks during an all-star sophomore campaign. Fely won't push the envelope in the spring, opting instead to target the summer for his return to action.
13. OG Aaron Morris, Ole Miss
When Morris went down with a torn ACL in the opener with Vanderbilt, it sort of flew under the radar nationally, but not at Ole Miss. The Rebels had to play the balance of the season without their best all-around blocker, a true road-grader and a preseason All-SEC selection. They're hoping to have the 6-5, 360-pound senior back on the interior, blowing open holes for the backfield tandem of sophomores I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.
12. WR Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, Maryland
In an unbelievable stroke of bad luck, Diggs and Long both broke their legs in last October's loss to Wake Forest. Long's injury was more severe, as he broke both his tibia and his fibula. At the time, each player was on pace to reach 1,000 receiving yards as C.J. Brown's co-favorite targets. While both players' rehab is coming along as expected, neither will take contact in the spring. Diggs and Long don't figure to have any restrictions once the season starts, which means the Terps will boast one of the Big Ten's deepest receiving corps.
11. WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
The breakout season projected for Mitchell never even got off the tarmac. He took part in just five plays in 2013, felled by a torn ACL that occurred during an opening weekend touchdown celebration. Mitchell planned to concentrate on flanker after moonlighting at cornerback a year earlier to help a depleted secondary. He has an NFL future, but he'll first need to show scouts and GMs his potential with a full year at one position. Mitchell won't participate in spring drills as he continues to rehab his knee.
- Stars On The Mend – Top Ten