1. Ryan Quigley. Quigley has been a solid punter from Day 1, so it may be hard to call him a surprise, but this year he took it to a new level. He was fourth in the nation in punts inside the 20...many of which were pinned inside the 10. Quigley was consistent and also did very nice job with our kickoffs. There were many times that I felt Spaz went too conservative and was too quick to punt, but Quigley always bailed him out. Many things went wrong this year, but anything related to Quigley did not. I wish he didn't punt so often, but it was a pleasure watching his work.
2. Dominic Appiah. When Spaz's defenses are at their best, it usually starts upfront. For the past three seasons we haven't really had a game changer up there. We expected guys like O'Neal or Quinn to step up or maybe get some big contributions from Ricci, but Appiah was the one who really progressed as the season wore on. As a DT, his job is to push the line and clog the middle. One of the reasons our defense got better towards the end of the season was because Appiah finally gave us a difference maker at DT. As we used more three-man fronts, Appiah was often the lone DT out there and played well. Plus I like his hustle. The defensive line has been an issue for a few years, but I think next year it will be a strength.
3. Manny Asprilla. Asprilla's rise was very similar to Appiah's. Other young DBs were supposed to make an impact this year. Not much was expected of Asprilla. Yet as the season wore on, he was getting more and more snaps. He was the one making tackles. Our corners are expected to cover and make plenty of tackles. Asprilla showed a toughness and instinct that should serve him well going forward. I also liked his quickness on corner blitzes. If his freshman year was any indication, Asprilla has a chance to be special.