We at the SEC blog are looking back on the spring that was all week. Today, we turn our attention to who improved the most and who fits the mold of “breakout players.”
S Evan Berry, Tennessee: He's got the pedigree, no doubt. The younger brother of former Vol Eric Berry is a defensive back, too. Evan, a former four-star prospect, didn't do much as a freshman last season. He had only five tackles in 13 games. But during this spring, a light appeared to come on. He showed a real nose for the football, hauling in interception after interception in practice. And then, in front of everyone, he led the team in tackles during the spring game with nine.
DT Taven Bryan, Florida: Even before the spring, coaches were excited to see what Bryan could do after he redshirted his first year on campus. The former four-star prospect didn't disappoint, winning over the staff with his high motor and raw athleticism. Coming from nowhere -- or more appropriately, Casper, Wyoming -- he showed that he's capable of getting starter's reps. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he can play both end and tackle, depending on the scheme.
WR Malachi Dupre, LSU: We all know what Dupre is capable of. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that he was the country’s No. 1-ranked receiver. But he didn't do much as a freshman, catching just 14 passes for 318 yards. Some of that was due to an unstable situation at QB. Some of that was due to inexperience. But this spring, Dupre showed that he’s not a freshman anymore. The 6-3 target moved to the slot and blew up. He had two touchdown receptions during the spring game, including a ridiculous grab you can find in this video.
WRs Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart, Alabama: Someone had to step up at receiver, because it wasn’t just Amari Cooper who was gone. So were Christion Jones and DeAndrew White, the second and third receivers last season. Enter Stewart and Foster. The two highly sought after recruits played little the past two seasons, but both showed this spring that they’re capable of being playmakers in Lane Kiffin’s offense. At A-Day, Stewart caught eight passes for 118 yards and two TDs. Not to be outdone, Foster had six catches for 125 yards.
DE JaMichael Winston, Arkansas: There’s no escaping the absence of Trey Flowers and Darius Philon, but Arkansas’ defensive line isn’t throwing in the towel. Not Winston, at least. The 6-4, 250-pound junior defensive end had a huge spring for the Hogs, garnering praise from coach Bret Bielema and defensive coordinator Robb Smith. Winston finished on a strong note, too, with three sacks during the spring game.