13 for '13: Wayne Lyons tries to fulfill his huge potential

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Shayne Skov and Kevin Hogan this season - but 13 less heralded Cardinal players whose ability to adjust to larger roles will determine whether Stanford is competing for a 4th straight BCS invite or settling for a spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

PREVIOUSLYAndrus PeatDavid ParryAlex Carter

Name: Wayne Lyons
Position: CB
Year: Junior
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-1, 196 lbs.
Career Stats: 16 games played, One start at corner in 2012, One interception last year (vs Cal)
Shoes to Fill: Alex Carter

The Situtation: The 2012 Stanford defensive backfield was filled with new starters. In 2013, there will only be one "new" starter: Wayne Lyons. He's not inexperienced in any way - he did play in 13 games last year - but his growth as a player may be the most important part of the Stanford DBs being an elite unit in 2013. Lyons was a four-star recruit from Florida who came to the Farm with high expectations, but he hasn't quite reached that next level yet. And this year, it's imperative the Lyons becomes comfortable with - and masters - the college game.

Camp report: So far, Lyons looks like he's right on schedule to become an excellent player this season. This Saturday's open scrimmage saw Lyons rep with the first team all day. From Rivals:

Lyons' inclusion in the first unit was the most notable takeaway in the secondary from the scrimmage. Though the competition for the starting cornerback spot opposite Alex Carter is still ongoing, Lyons has had a strong camp.

"As of right now I think it's still a battle, but Wayne's starting to stretch it out a little bit," Derek Mason said. "He's playing some of his best ball. He's made very few mental (mistakes). A lot of good decisions and he's tackling well. It's what we sort of expected from Wayne coming in a couple of years ago."

One of Lyons' fellow defensive backs attributed Lyons' improvement to his technique.

"Last year when I was watching Wayne, he was explosive," defensive back Alex Carter said. "He was the most explosive person I had seen. But his technique was off. This year I could tell that he's worked hard in the offseason to fix his technique and to work with his feet and he's playing a lot better."

What he's done: In his freshman year, Lyons played two games before breaking his foot and missing the rest of the season. In 2012, his sophomore year, Lyons returned to the Cardinal lineup and played in every game, tallying 25 tackles, one pick and one pass breakup. And while he provided necessary depth in the defensive backfield, Lyons was widely regarded as the guy ready to have the breakout season - not Alex Carter, who ended up being that breakout guy. Why was Lyons so expected to break out? Let's look at last year's Stanford preview from Sports Illustrated:

David Shaw has already boldly predicted that Lyons will eventually contend for the Thorpe Award.

For those just tuning in, that's the award for the best defensive back in college football - and Shaw said this while Lyons was a freshman.

Where he came from: Lyons was rated the 6th-best safety in America coming out of high school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and he was enough of a start that he even garnered a big profile from SI's Andy Staples that called him "the next Myron Rolle." Lyons turned down offers from just about everywhere to come to Stanford - including USC, UCLA, Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State and many, many more.

Tweetworthy: Wayne's movie reviews are priceless.

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