While we won’t be naive (and/or like Rick Reilly/Peter King/insert-your-own-cliched-columnist) and claim there’s some sort of pristine or pure honor in playing out your four years that other players just don’t get to experience, we’d still like to point out the senior players that are likely to stand out in 2012. These players have put in the time during their college careers, and now serve as the cornerstones of their respective teams’ potential success this season.
We’ll be going team-by-team to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his team, and why. Have a different thought on the matter? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.
During their 6-0 start last year, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets managed to throw the ball with at least some proficiency, even as their run-game racked up the large majority of the yards. The wheels, of course, fell off as they matched up with teams more capable of putting a stop to their one-dimensional attack. For better or for worse, the onus to fix that problem fell, and still falls, on senior quarterback Tevin Washington.
Washington failed to really get a passing game going in 2011, yet had NFL talent at his disposal, in the recently drafted Stephen Hill. Now, with very little experience or elite receivers to speak of, he’s got a lot to prove for 2012. As we’ve discussed here, there’s pressure on him with two able-bodied passers waiting in the wings. He’s got to prove he should be in the conversation with other ACC signal-callers, and moreover, prove that the Wreck’s triple-option works. For his legacy, and Paul Johnson’s credibility. It’s a lot of weight, but given the rising tide of expectations in Atlanta nowadays, Washington sure appears capable of carrying the load.
In 2011 — his first full season as a starter — Washington threw for over 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns. If the ‘Jackets expect to win more than the eight games they did last year, those numbers will have to go up. And it all traces back to his accuracy. At just 49 percent, his completion rate is dismal by any standard. But a lot of it’s caused by a constant attempt at homerun balls. In eight games last season, he completed a pass of 40 or more yards. With some work this offseason (which it appears he’s been putting in), he can still complete those passes, but on fewer attempts. As we’ve said, Washington has the tools to succeed, but needs to apply it directly to the passing game for both him and the team to succeed. He can get it done, but the rope with which he has to work with is getting shorter.
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