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Wide receivers among top Pac-12 breakout players for 2014

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press
Cyler Miles is one of a number of options Washington has to replace the departed Keith Price.

Some of college football's biggest storylines the past two years have come thanks to a pair of breakout freshmen (at the time) in Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston. While it will be tough to duplicate what the two Heisman Trophy winners accomplished, there is no doubt that some under-the-radar players will go from being mentioned in just a few lines in the media guide to national sensations.

With that in mind, CFB 24/7 has selected 10 players that will go from being talked about on local message boards to familiar names for fans from coast to coast.


14 for '14 series:
CFB 24/7 counts down the 14 college football players or coaches to watch in varying categories in 2014.

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Today, we look at the Pac-12's top 10 breakout candidates for the 2014 season.

10. WR Vince Mayle, Washington State

Particulars: 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, senior
Buzz: The Cougars have a deep receiving corps, but do throw it enough in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense to get multiple wideouts some big stats. While a lot of people think Gabe Marks or Dominique Williams will be the primary target of quarterback Connor Halliday, Mayle has the athleticism and ability to turn into a stud in his own right. He had a great spring and finally knows the nuances of route running to turn into the type of player NFL scouts will keep an eye on. His big finish to 2013 bodes well for a great 2014 season.

9. TE Connor Hamlett, Oregon State

Particulars: 6-7, 260, junior
Buzz: You can't replace Brandin Cooks' production in the Beavers' offense, but Hamlett will be one of several players that will have to contribute to make up some of the yards and touchdowns from the 2014 first-round pick. Hamlett made 40 catches a season ago and should see those numbers shoot up as one of the primary targets of Sean Mannion. His soft hands and good size make him a matchup nightmare, and he has the potential to become one of the West Coast's top tight ends.

8. QB Cyler Miles, Washington

Particulars: 6-4, 217, sophomore
Buzz: Keith Price has moved on to the NFL and new head coach Chris Petersen has a number of options he can go with under center. Although Miles missed spring practice due to disciplinary issues, he is the most talented quarterback on the Huskies' roster and is the only one with significant game experience. He showed flashes in 2013 and his mobility presents an extra dimension for teams to defend. If he earns Petersen's trust and ends up as the starter, the sky is the limit for Miles.

Particulars: 6-1, 327<br><br>
Buzz: Shelton (right) should be the No. 1 or No. 2 nose tackle on most teams' draft boards heading into the 2014 season. He is stout in the middle of the line, taking up two blockers and doing a nice job of stopping the run. Shelton could stand to become a bit more disruptive, but no one questions his value as a middle-of-the-line run-stuffer. He will be a three-year starter for the Huskies.
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(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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7. WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado

Particulars: 6-1, 205, junior
Buzz: Paul Richardson was the playmaker for the Buffaloes the past couple of years and replacing him won't be easy. Spruce was second in line last season and is facing a ton of pressure to step up and be the No. 1 option. There are no issues at quarterback with Sefo Liufau under center, so the QB-WR combination could help lead the team to a bowl game if all goes right.

6. DE Nate Orchard, Utah

Particulars: 6-4, 255, senior
Buzz: The departed Trevor Reilly is a big loss for the Utes' defense, but coaches are confident that Orchard can step up as a leader while turning into a big presence on the defensive line. He saw a good deal of playing time last season, but has all the tools to turn into an All-Pac-12 selection and possible NFL draft pick.

5. DL Delvon Simmons, USC

Particulars: 6-6, 300, junior
Buzz: The Trojans are replacing three starters from last season's defensive line, but are adjusting to coordinator Justin Wilcox's new 3-4 base alignment. With stud All-American Leonard Williams at end and Antwaun Woods at tackle, Simmons has a chance to make an impact for the Trojans on the opposite side of Williams. He was a starter at Texas Tech before deciding to transfer and has the skills to provide a big boost to USC's defense in 2014.

4. OG Josh Garnett, Stanford

Particulars: 6-5, 316, junior
Buzz: One of the big pickups in the impressive offensive line haul by the Cardinal a few years ago, Garnett has been a key member of the team's "Jumbo" package for two seasons. He has the tough task of replacing All-American David Yankey, but is more than capable given his experience and physicality. If he lives up to expectations, he'll be yet another Stanford lineman drafted in a year or two.

3. RB Javorius "Buck" Allen, USC

Particulars: 6-1, 215, junior
Buzz: Allen hardly saw any carries with Lane Kiffin in charge last year, but Kiffin's departure paved the way for the tailback to see meaningful action down the stretch. He made the most of his carries and emerged as a starter in the final four games. Steve Sarkisian turned Bishop Sankey into one of the best backs in the nation, and could do the same with Allen as the Trojans' primary ball carrier.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota during an NCAA football game against USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)
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2. WR Austin Hill, Arizona

Particulars: 6-3, 210, senior
Buzz: It would be more of a comeback season for Hill than a breakout one. After tearing his ACL last year in spring practice, Hill leads a strong receiving corps for the Wildcats and has All-American potential if everything comes together. With uncertainty at quarterback and RB Ka'Deem Carey now in the NFL, coach Rich Rodriguez is counting on Hill turning into a star on the outside.

1. WR Keanon Lowe, Oregon

Particulars: 5-9, 180, senior
Buzz: He had just 18 catches a season ago, but is primed for a huge jump in his numbers as the No. 1 receiver for the Ducks with the loss of Bralon Addison to a knee injury and Josh Huff off to the NFL. He'll be tasked with becoming the leader of a young group and he should have youngsters like Devon Allen, Chance Allen and Darren Carrington help push him. All in all, it's never a bad thing when you have a quarterback like Marcus Mariota throwing you the ball.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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