It’s almost football time everyone! While we have been highlighting the top players in the American through preseason awards and AAC x-factors, lets take a look at the players who are flying under the radar.
Though they aren’t receiving all the pub, these guys will most likely be part of the next great group of AAC players to make an NFL roster. In no particular order, here are the most underrated offensive players in the AAC.
1. Ben Hicks, Quarterback, SMU
Ben Hicks is the most overlooked QB in the AAC. By no means am I saying that he is on the level of McKenzie Milton, but you could argue that he is the second best quarterback in this league. Detractors will point to his completion percentage, which hovers around 55 percent, and say that there is no way he can be elite with those numbers. His low competition percentage fails to tell the whole story though.
Former head coach Chad Morris had Hicks drop back and pass anywhere between 30 to 40 times in a game. Because of this Hicks is labeled as an inaccurate, high-volume passer. However, he has a lot of experience against quality competition. He has lead explosive offenses at SMU and has clear expectations of what is acceptable and what isn’t. As a junior, new head coach Sonny Dykes will rely on Hicks to carry the offense as he’ll be surrounded by receivers who are stepping into bigger roles. Hicks will be in good hands as Sonny Dykes did mold Jared Goff to an NFL starter during their time together at California.
2. Ryquell Armstead, Running Back, Temple
The next one is an interesting choice in Armstead. The senior is back for his final year to showcase that he is capable of being a premier back in this conference. He is one of those players that haunts me because of his frame. I remember watching him run all over my Bulls in 2016. He is quick and shifty for being a bulkier back. He was a huge part of Temple’s success when they won their AAC championship.
Armstead finished that season with 156 carries for 919 yard and was supposed to be the premier back of the conference. However, he fell off the following season getting the same number of carries for only 604 yards with 3.9 yards per carry. If Armstead returns to his old form, Temple will be a contender.
3. Tyre McCants, Receiver, USF
Yes I do admit I have some bias here. However, I personally do not think he gets talked about enough. McCants is a player that is poised for a breakout season, despite the question mark the Bulls have at quarterback. The senior has a 5’11’’, 240 lbs. frame that makes defensive backs and linebackers quiver at the thought of tackling him. He had a career year last season with 686 yards and set the USF single-game record with 227 yards on the biggest stage against UCF. He has a good chance this year to set the single-season receiving yards record with the high volume of receptions he is expected to get.
Getting past his receiving abilities, I truly believe he is the best blocking receiver in the conference hands down, and could quite possibly be the best in the nation. Click the link and look to the 13th second if you want to see a receiver destroy a DB. McCants is expected to be the leader of a team that hopes to dethrone UCF and secure their first conference championship in school history.
4. Otis Anderson, Running Back/Receiver, UCF
Anderson is one of the other overlooked players in this conference. As we all know, and probably expect, UCF will still have a high-powered offense. Due to the coaching change, I am expecting a similar offense to what USF had last season.
Anderson is most likely one of the most versatile players in the conference. It always seems like he is able to come up big in tough situations. His stats are not as big as other receivers or running backs because of the fact that he does both. If we take a look at his total yards from scrimmage during his freshmen year, we see that he was very impressive. He totaled 845 all-purpose yards.
5. Chandler Miller, Center, Tulsa
While there aren’t really stats for offensive linemen, Miller’s resume is one of the standouts of this conference. Some will point to sacks and pressures, but those numbers again do not tell the whole story of a player. I will take a look at the stat that he helped lead an offense that ranked 14th in rushing.
However, he will mostly go overlooked due to the fact that Tulsa was not a great team last season. But, if we take a look at his resume, here are his accolades. He has been a three year starter that has started every game, earned first-team all-conference in 2016 and earned second-team honors in 2017. Additionally, he has been named to the Rimington Watch list in 2017 and 2018. Miller is a complete center and will play a crucial part of the offense this year if Tulsa is to bounce back.
If you have any disagreements or feel that someone else should be added to this list, sound off in the comment section.
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