He might not technically be the “SEC's leading returning WR” since he played in the Big 12 in 2011, but no SEC wide receiver had more yards or catches in 2011 than Texas A&M's Ryan Swope heading into 2012.
The senior caught 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has a new coach, a new QB and even a new conference in 2012. Here's how his season could play out for the Aggies:
Why he'll flourish: His new coach, Kevin Sumlin, is one of the brightest offensive minds in the nation, especially when it comes to the passing game. Houston, where Sumlin coached in 2011, led the nation last season with an average of 450 passing yards per game. Don't expect the Aggies to open up the passing game that much, but Sumlin won't be shy about letting it fly in College Station. He also has help from the other skill positions. RB Christine Michael returns after tearing his ACL in 2011, and senior WR Uzoma Nwachukwu should be able to take some of the attention off Swope after grabbing 50 receptions for 639 yards last season.
Why he'll struggle: He had the benefit of having an eventual first-round pick at QB in Ryan Tannehill, who was taken eighth overall by the Dolphins in April's draft. The three QBs who have almost no experience -- Jameill Showers, Matt Joeckel and Johnny Manziel -- are battling for his spot. He also will have to deal with some of the best DBs in the nation, as the Aggies join the SEC West. Some of his biggest games in 2011 came against notoriously weak defenses such as Baylor, SMU, Northwestern and Kansas. He won't have as many opportunities to wrack up huge numbers against several loaded defenses in the West.
NFL outlook: NFLDraftScout.com has Swope as the No. 6 WR for the 2013 draft. He has a reported 40-yard dash time of as fast as 4.42, but he more regularly runs in the 4.5s. His overall production, route-running skills and experience will make him worthy of a pick around Round 3 in the draft.
Projected 2012 statline: 76 receptions, 1,038 yards, nine touchdowns
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