Every season, a new set of star players emerge — with another year of experience, some players take that leap into stardom. As Auburn turns the page from a mostly disappointing 2018 season, the development of key players is crucial.
Every team needs its share of breakout stars and below is a list of a few players on Auburn’s roster that are prime candidates for a 2019 breakout.
JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow
This may seem like an obvious choice — that doesn’t make it a wrong one.
Whitlow had a strong 2018 campaign as a redshirt freshman. Although the Tigers failed to field a 1,000-plus yard rusher for the first time in a decade, Whitlow's 787 yards on over five yards per carry and six touchdowns is nothing to scoff at.
Although the Tigers possess great depth at running back, expect Whitlow to separate himself from the pack and rush for a good bit over 1,000 yards behind a more experienced offensive line.
Despite two veteran wideouts topping Seth Williams in receiving yards last year, you could certainly make the argument that Williams was the Tigers' best wide receiver in 2018, after he caught 26 balls for 534 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman.
The sophomore has great size at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, which Williams knows how to pair well with his excellent hands to rise up and make catches over defenders.
Williams led all eligible receivers in the SEC in yards per reception (20.54,) and with both Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton gone, expect Williams to step into and excel as the Tigers' go-to receiver and a sure-handed option for whoever starts under center.
Big Kat Bryant
With how stacked the Tigers are with established talent on the defensive line, it may be a bit risky to mention a player who only made three starts last year as a breakout candidate.
Bryant, a 6-foot-5, 247-pound buck end, only recorded 18 total tackles last year. However, he proved to be an electric pass rusher in the opportunities that he got, finishing with 3.5 sacks, four pass deflections, an interception and a forced fumble.
While Bryant won’t get the attention that fellow Tiger defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davison will garner, the former Under Armour All-American is just too talented to keep off the field and out of the opponent’s backfield.
Auburn fans have been spoiled with top-notch talent at kicker for the past decade. Therefore, it was a big disappointment to see Anders Carlson, the highly-touted brother of arguably the best kicker in SEC history, struggle in 2018.
To be fair, the younger Carlson was probably tested far too often for a redshirt-freshman kicker. Carlson’s nine attempts from 50-plus yards were three more than any other kicker in the NCAA.
Inside 50 yards, Carlson was a reliable 13 of 16, so if the redshirt sophomore can retain his confidence and if the team can put Carlson in better positions, he could prove to be the difference between a seven and 10-win season.