College Football Betting: Players to Watch out for in the 2017 Season
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Each season in college football, a slew of different players make a major impact in the sport. Sure, there will be a lot of prominent players who are already on the radar screens of college football bettors. But then a lot of players, guys who end up making a robust impact, come from seemingly out of nowhere to become stars. And since they hadn't yet shown what they can do, it's a bigger factor than what is accounted for in the odds. And then there are also players who have already made their presence felt, but have been overshadowed for whatever reason. Pinpointing some difference-makers can give us just the edge we need to cover some early-season spreads in college football. Let's take a look at some players you might or might not have heard of who could make a major impact in 2017. Here are 12 college football players who will shine in 2017.
Jarrett Stidham (Auburn Tigers): Last season, he was at a junior college, the result of Art Briles' dismissal from Baylor, his original school. In 2015 as a true freshman, he was thrown into action against some tough teams for the Bears and shined in spots as he relieved injured starter Seth Russell. He now returns a little older to commandeer the Auburn offense, a unit that has some tools with which Stidham can work. Auburn has lacked a real complete talent at this position in recent years and the addition of Stidham could be just what they need to get over the hump.
Bryce Love (Stanford Cardinal): It has been hard for the promising Love to shine the last few seasons with Christian McCaffrey getting the bulk of the work out the backfield for the Cardinal. He showed flashes in his freshman campaign, but in 2016, Love showed what might lie ahead for Stanford with McCaffrey headed to the NFL. And the form he showed last season when averaging over 7 yards a carry shows all might not be bad. He lacks some size, but should put up some big numbers this season for Stanford.
Rashaad Penny (San Diego State Aztecs): Penny is not a player who will catch a lot of people by surprise, being that he has already surpassed 1000 yards rushing in a season for the Aztecs. It's just with Donnell Pumphrey breaking records, it was sometimes hard to notice. With Pumphrey gone, the bulk of rushing responsibility could fall into the hands of Penny. Last season, Penny averaged 7.4 yards a run and showed a lot of ability as a pass-catcher. 2017 could be a big season for him.
Trey Adams (Washington Huskies): Adams is a big part of why the Washington offensive line has been turned around recently, flashing some of the best form in the conference. The junior made a splash in 2015, before shining in 2016 as a first-team All Pac-12 selection. In 2017, we might see Adams become one of the premier offensive lineman in the country.
Jonah Williams (Alabama Crimson Tide): As a true freshman, he became only the second offensive lineman to start as a true freshman under Nick Saban. And Williams didn't disappoint, earning a slew of freshman honors while starting all 15 games for the Tide. With a full season under his belt, the always-hustling Williams should continue to develop, as his form got better and better over the course of the 2016 season. Though just a sophomore, this could be the season where we see Williams evolve into one of the top offensive lineman in the game.
Quinton Flowers (South Florida Bulls): Probably the least-kept secret on this list, Flowers has distinguished himself in two seasons as the USF starter. Last season was a real revelation for the dual-threat youngster, as he threw for 2807 yards and 24 touchdowns, while running for 1530 yards and 18 scores. Overshadowed by some other big-name quarterbacks, Flowers could be ready to graduate to the levels of the upper-elite quarterbacks in the game in the 2017 season.
Zach Abey (Navy Midshipmen): Obviously with the Navy Midshipmen, how a quarterback is judged varies from most other teams who place a premium on passing. At Navy, a quarterback is depended on to carry the ball. And usually, the Midshipmen quarterback will carry the ball a ton. Last season, after Will Worth suffered a season-ending injury in the conference title game, Abey was thrust into action in the bowl game. His poise and big rushing performance offered a promising glimpse into Navy's future. With an entire preseason to prepare, expect some nice things from Abey and Navy's offense in 2017.
Dru Brown (Hawaii Rainbow Warriors): Also with Hawaii, the standards are a bit different than, say, the Alabama Crimson Tide. It would just be nice to have a stable and capable presence back there and Hawaii may have found it over the last two-thirds of the season with Brown at quarterback. After a slow start to the season for the Rainbow Warriors, Brown was put into action. He had some ups and downs, but after having 9 touchdowns in his last two games and with a whole offseason to work on his game, Brown could be one of the top quarterbacks in the Mountain West this season.
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Steven Montez (Colorado Buffaloes): When Montez had to fill in for injured Sefo Liufau in the Michigan game in last season's opener, he looked ragged. So when Liufau again went down to injury, it looked like it could sideline a promising season for the Buffaloes. But Montez responded and kept Colorado on the right track, showing a lot of promise in the process. While shining in three games doesn't offer many guarantees, it showed that Colorado even with Liufau having moved on could still be trouble in the Pac-12 Conference this season.
Will Grier (West Virginia Mountaineers): At one time a top quarterback prospect, Grier's career at Florida ended unceremoniously with PED suspension that ended a promising season. In 6 games with the Gators, he showed a lot of promise and the Florida offense struggled in his absence. With a year to sit out in 2016 after transferring to West Virginia, Grier returns in 2017 with a second chance and an offense with some tools with which he can work. Grier could make an impact in 2017.
Justin Herbert (Oregon Ducks): Oregon's offense showed some promise at the end of the season in 2016 and a big part of that was the performance of Herbert. He started merely seven games and nearly eclipsed 2000 passing yards, along with 19 touchdowns and just 4 picks. He also showed a nifty set of legs. With new head coach Willie Taggart now in Eugene, Herbert's rise should continue in 2017.
Shane Morris (Central Michigan Chippewas): Lately, the Chippewas have been an inconsistent, but dangerous presence in the MAC. They look for that to continue, despite the key departure of Cooper Rush, a prolific QB who guided the Chippewas the last four seasons. Into the fold is former Michigan QB and transfer Shane Morris. Some may have assumed Morris was out of football, but after sitting out last season, Morris should find the going in the MAC to be easier than what he saw with the Wolverines. And if so, CMU could have some upside this season.