The top 10 Troy football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. DE Rashad Dillard, Sr.
Built more like a Sun Belt defensive tackle than a normal end, he’s 6-1 and 261 pounds with a quick burst. He’s not long or lean in any way, but the former JUCO transfer came back roaring after missing almost all of his first year at Troy getting hurt. While he only came up with 30 tackles, he generated seven sacks with nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, taking one fumble for a 33-yard touchdown against New Mexico State. Now the No. 1 guy who’ll be targeted by blocking schemes, he has to get ready for all the attention.
2. QB Brandon Silvers, Jr.
The Trojans tried out several options at quarterback, but Silvers turned into the best of the bunch completing 61% of his throws for 2,378 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven picks, and ran for 41 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-3, 214-pounder is a talent who seems to be growing into the job, finishing up his season with a fantastic 320-yard, four touchdown day – hitting 79% of his passes – in the blowout win over Louisiana-Lafayette. He had his down moments – he struggled mightily with his consistency and accuracy at times, but when he gets into a groove, he’s deadly. As a freshman, though, he connected on 70% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions, while running for five scores. The upside is there to blow up statistically.
3. OT Antonio Garcia, Sr.
The leader and all-star on the left side, Garcia’s 6-7, 302-pound pass protector who doesn’t have a whole bunch of bulk, but is a tall, lean blocker who can provide a little pop and power. Hurt early on in his career, he’s turned into a rock starting every game as a sophomore before coming into his own last year. Four starters return to the senior-laden line, and Garcia is the best of the bunch.
4. LB William Lloyd, Sr.
The team’s leading returning tackler, he came up with 73 tackles with 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss, starting out his Trojan career with 15 tackles against NC State while doing a steady, decent job the rest of the way. At 6-0 and 214 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he can get on the move with excellent straight line speed and the ability to seamlessly drop into coverage. The former JUCO transfer is one of the team’s quickest linebackers – he’s always around the ball.
5. LB Terris Lewis, Sr.
A star high school defender and tight end, he just wasn’t quite big enough for the big boys. At 6-2 and 229 pounds now, he’s not huge, but he can provide the pop, coming into his own last season as a full-time defender making 64 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss. Great against the Georgia Southern option attack, he came up with a season-high 12 tackles, but he was good for around five stops a game all season long. Staying healthy is a must – missing a bulk of his sophomore year with a broken hand – but after taking a big step forward last year, he should be a force in the middle.
6. S Demetrius Cain, Sr.
Working at the Spear position – a type of hybrid strong safety and linebacker – the former JUCO All-American was a hitter from his spot. At 6-1 and 215 pounds, he’s built like a tough safety, but he showed at East Mississippi CC that he could attack the ball, picking off five passes in his final year and doing big things with them. In his first year with the Trojans he made 44 tackles with a sack and four broken up passes, but he made his biggest impact on two fumble recoveries, taking them for touchdowns against Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette late in the year.
7. RB Andre Flakes, Jr.
It’ll be his job to take over for 1,000-yard rusher Brandon Burks, but can he handle the workload? Just 5-8 and 185 pounds, Flake is a quick scooter who can cut on a dime, but he only averaged 3.68 yards per try with 243 yards and three scores. He caught just nine passes, but he has the skills to come up with more big plays as a receiver. While he might not bring the thump, he can be physical – he was a great high school defensive back.
8. WR Emanuel Thompson, Jr.
The Trojans lose their top three receivers, and four of their top five, with Thompson the top target returning. The 6-1, 193-pounder was a high school running back and quarterback who’s now turning into a solid receiver, catching 28 passes for 299 yards and three scores, averaging 10.68 yards per try topping out with six grabs for 44 yards and two scores against ULM. He’s got the leadership and ability to turn into a No. 1 target, and now he’ll get the chance.
9. P Ryan Kay, Sr.
While he can work as a placekicker – he handled the work early in his career and hit one of two tries last season – he did his best work as a punter averaging 41.9 yards per kick putting 17 inside the 20. He has the big leg, but he’s better as a directional kicker and pinning the ball deep. He’s a field-tilter.
10. CB Jalen Harris, Jr.
The 6-0, 182-pound corner took over the starting gig last season after coming to Troy as a receiver. A decent open-field tackler for his size, he made 27 stops in the open field making five stops twice. A former high school quarterback, he can move, has great quickness, and is just starting to come into his own as a defender.