Last season, the Wolfpack saw numerous players, such as Brissett, Bo Hines, and Tony Adams, have breakout seasons. So who will be this year’s breakout player?
Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gallaspy, and Jaylen Samuels are all offensive weapons that could explode in 2015. Hines will likely be playing more receiver than running back, which gives him the best opportunity, given the state of the receiving corps compared to the running backs. Hines was an unstoppable force in high school, scoring 126 touchdowns and compiling nearly 8,000 total yards over his career. The Pack offense will allow Hines to get the ball numerous different ways and give him plenty of opportunities to do what he does; score touchdowns. He should be taking over the punt returning duties as well, which means even more chances to score touchdowns.
Hines may be the favorite for breakout player, but Reggie Gallaspy’s fine showing in the spring game has put him right in the middle of things. He ran for 131 yards in that game, some of which were gained against the first-team defense. He led the state in rushing during his senior year, and is a great combination of power and speed. There are two factors working against Gallaspy though, and their names are Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes. Reggie will likely be the third running back, but being an early enrollee gave him a chance to crack the backfield rotation before the season starts, and he should get his share of carries.
Jaylen Samuels may not have gotten the ball a ton during his freshman campaign, but he certainly made the most of his opportunities, ending the season with a per carry mark of 9.1 yards. He showed his speed and quickness nearly every time he touched the ball, and even when he didn’t. perhaps his best play of the season was when he chased down a Georgia Tech defender and stripped him of the ball on what otherwise would’ve been a pick-six.
A pick-six was thrown two plays later though, so it ended up meaning nothing (#goACC), but at least it made a nice "ACC Must See Moment". Samuels also made a ridiculous touchdown catch on a halfback pass in the greatest Bitcoin Bowl ever played. He showed flashes of amazing play last season, and a larger workload this season could turn into the breakout player of the year.
Lots of other players have the potential to break out this year and help the offense get to the next level. Perhaps Johnny Frasier could break into the running back rotation and become a difference maker. Brian Sessoms and Maurice Trowell should both have their chances to show what they can do as part of a receiver group that has a lot of questions.
Josh Jones made huge strides last season in the secondary, just as Jerod Fernandez did at the linebacker position and B.J. Hill did on the defensive line. All three position groups have great candidates to break out in 2015.
Defensive end Kentavius Street was the highest ranked player in the 2014 class. Street and true freshman Darian Roseboro, the second highest ranked player in the 2015 class, should get plenty of snaps on a rebuilding defensive line. Street showed flashes last season, but it was clear that he was a true freshman. Now he has moved inside to defensive tackle and is poised to have a great year as one of the anchors on the defensive line, partly because he is abnormally strong. Expect an increase in production from his 22 tackles a year ago. Roseboro comes in as an early enrollee after a very polished high school career, in which he recorded 467 tackles and 36 sacks throughout his career at Lincolnton. He currently sits second behind veteran Mike Rose on the depth chart, and should get plenty of time on the field to prove himself.
Some might say that linebacker Airius Moore already broke out when he had 8 tackles, a sack, and an awesome fumble return for a touchdown that didn’t count at Louisville last season. He was the very last player to enroll from the 2014 class, but didn’t take long to show the coaches he was ready to contribute. This year he has been moved out of the middle and instead of competing for snaps with Jerod Fernandez, he will play alongside him. Counting this one, both these guys have three more seasons, and it’s really exciting to think about how good they could be. Moore recorded 37 tackles last season, 30 of which came in week 8 and after. The Pack’s linebacking corps is very underrated and Airius Moore is a big reason why.
Pharaoh McKever is already a household name for Pack fans because of this potentially season saving play:
He showed flashes of unstoppableness last season, particularly in front of the empty bleachers of Keenan Stadium, but still only notched 9 tackles and 1 sack during the year. The wide receiver convert will see more action this year, and should get to display his pass rushing, quarterback sacking, pick-sixing abilities quite a bit more in 2015.