Georgia State will need to improve in a lot of areas in order to turn around last year's 3-8 season. This series will identify five players that could be candidates to have a breakout season for Georgia State and give them a push in a certain area. The players highlighted must have started fewer than 6 games for the Panthers, but also were on the team last season. The fourth player highlighted in this series is wide out Darren McCray.
Postion: Wide Receiver
Class: RS Junior
2011 Review: McCray struggled with some injury issues in 2011 that hampered his production, but ended the season on a high not with a 37 yard kick return against Cambell and a 13.25 average yards per catch over the last three games.
Spring 2012: McCray was one of the best performers throughout the spring and was a constant highlight reel. He is one of the fastest players on the team and is a guy that can take it the distance on any given play. He established himself as a favorite target of Ben McLane, particularly in the flats or as a check down option when things don't develop down field.
2012 Depth Chart: The Panthers once again return their top three receivers, but McCray has done enough to definitely warrant playing time. Look for him to be in the slot in three and four wide receiver sets a lot this fall. Also, McCray is one one of the best kickoff returners on the team. I would expect him and running back Parris Lee to be the main kick returners and for those two to split time on punt returns in an attempt to keep wide receiver Albert Wilson healthy.
2012 Outlook: McCray looks healthy and ready to be a major for this offense. His electric athletic ability was displayed by a couple bright moments in 2010 where he had a 41 yard touchdown run on a reverse against Jacksonville State and returned a kick for a touchdown against Campbell. He averaged 27 yards per kick return in 2010 and 22.7 yards per return in 2011. That kind of game changing ability needs to be utilized more. Look for Darren have chances to get the ball in space and have chances to make a big play.
Worst Case Scenario: When you have a wide receiver who is as small as McCray is injuries are always going to be a concern. It's just a matter of physics that when a 230 pound linebacker tackles a 150 pound wide receiver, the smaller guy is going to take the worse of the hit. While there is certainly no questioning McCray's heart, the worst case scenario would certainly be him having another injury plagued season.
Best Case Scenario: McCray teams up with Parris Lee and Albert Wilson to form the most electric trio of play makers in the CAA. He returns kicks for touchdowns and has several plays of 20 yards or more on offense.
Prediction: I don't think anyone should expect McCray to have 30 catches or more for 500 plus yards. But his blazing speed is a weapon that should be taken advantage of. I would look for McCray to be utilized in a number of ways including reverses and screens as well as in the slot and once he gets the ball in his hands all bets are off. I think about half a dozen touchdowns and half a dozen plays of 30 yards or more to go with a number of great kick returns is certainly not out of the question and would definitely be considered a breakout year.