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Arizona football: Five potential breakout players on offense

Who could be primed for a big year on the offensive side of things for the Wildcats?

NCAA Football: Gildan New Mexico Bowl-Arizona vs New Mexico Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Every year a player seemingly comes out of nowhere to have a bigger year than expected. Last year, Johnny Jackson moved from safety back to WR and was the team’s 2nd-leading receiver. The year before, Nick Wilson broke out on the scene with 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman.

I’ll take a look at five potential players who could have a breakout year for the Arizona Wildcats on offense.

  1. Tony Ellison - The 5-foot-11, 170 pound receiver has been getting positive praise since he came to campus. Ellison has been praised for his smooth route-running and has been pinned as a guy by other receivers to have a bigger role this year. With Cayleb Jones and David Richards gone, there are two spots open on the outside (we’ll expect Trey Griffey to take one) and you should expect Ellison to make a pretty big push to start.
  2. Gerhard de Beer - Just three years ago, the staff brought on de Beer as a project and he didn’t even know how to line up correctly on the line. He moved from tight end to defensive end, then found a place on the offensive line. The South African track and field and rugby star has seen his talent translate over to football as he started the last four games of the year at guard. I expect him to start this year and possibly be one of Arizona’s better linemen.
  3. Orlando Bradford - The running back out of Louisiana impressed the coaches enough to not be redshirted last year. While he didn’t play a ton, he did show flashes of what he can do. With Jared Baker gone, you should expect Bradford to take over the number two back role. At 5-foot-9, 208 pounds, Bradford is a bruiser. Combine that with Nick Wilson, and that’s quite a powerful one-two punch. Bradford should get a good amount of snaps with Wilson this year, but if Wilson gets injured, Orlando’s workload could increase. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but Bradford should be ready if it does.
  4. Cam Denson - Mr. Tucson, Arizona hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. In his first two years at U of A, he was at corner. While he did play, the former Salpointe star decided that he fits better at wide receiver. He could be battling with Ellison for the last starting job. If you saw him at Salpointe, you saw what he could do at receiver. Even if he doesn’t start, I expect Denson to get a good amount of snaps.
  5. Tyrell Johnson - Johnson is the fastest guy on the field whenever he steps on it. The 5-foot-7, 164 pound receiver runs a sub 4.4 forty-yard dash, and was a sprinter for Arizona last year. He was injured for five games of 2015 and was a do-it-all guy for U of A. He lined up in the backfield, took back kicks, and played in the slot. I don’t expect him to start, but anytime you have his speed, you have a chance to make a big play. Whether it’s out of the backfield, on a kick return, or just off a pass, don’t be surprised when Johnson busts open a big play.