RB Charlie Sims*
6’0, 206 lbs.
When Sims was a freshman at Houston he was a dominant back in the CUSA he outrushed the previous freshman of the year in team mate Bryce Beall to and took the starting job from him. Sims then had academic issues and lost his redshirt in 2010. He bounced back last year with a strong showing rushing for 821 yards and nine scores to go along with 51 catches for 575 yards and four more TD’s. Sims is one of the most dangerous dual threat backs in the nation with size, speed, power, and the ability to be a weapon either running or catching the ball out of the backfield.
LB Phillip Steward
6’2, 230 lbs.
Raise your hand if you were in love with Lavonte David this past draft? Ok good then you like us will be excited to know about Steward who plays the game like a missile. Steward led the Cougars in INT’s last year with six, and that was on top of his six pass deflections, his 77 tackles, and six and a half tackles for loss. Steward is everything David was without the help of playing for Nebraska, do not sleep on this kids ability.
QB Cody Green
6’4, 247 lbs.
You may remember Green for his time at Nebraska, he started five games there in 2010 completing 55% of his passes while throwing three TD’s, rushing for one more and only throwing one pick. In 2011 Green saw the writing on the wall and left for the University of Tulsa where he knew his dual threat aerial based attack would be best utilized. Green steps in for GJ Kinne and they are scarily similar prospects in terms of size, ability, and personality. Both players transferred down from big time college as well.
HB Willie Carter
6’2, 231 lbs.
The Miami Dolphins know all about Charles Clay and just how versatile a weapon the Tulsa H-Back can be in the NFL. That’s why scouts will not be sleeping on Carter who is an almost identical version of Clay. Carter led the team in receiving last year hauling in 61 passes for 868 yards and seven scores. He runs a dangerous wheel route and is a nightmare for LB’s to try and cover one on one. Carter is still a developing blocker who will need time to get a bit stronger and develop better technique.
WR Darius Johnson
5’10, 175 lbs
One of most electrifying playmakers in the entire FBS division that you have never heard of is Darius Johnson. Johnson projects to us as an outside WR despite his small stature. He has blazing speed, great hands, and incredible athleticism. Johnson went over 1,000 yards last season by making the most out of short passes. If you give him a seam he will be through it in no time. If there is one player on one team to watch this year this is the kid.
LB Ja’Gared Davis
6’1, 225 lbs.
Last year we were all about Sammy Brown and many of you will hopefully find out why as he is now in the pros. This year’s LB to watch is Ja’Gared Davis who went from just being a pass rush specialist in his first few seasons to becoming a complete LB last year. Davis leads all returning starters in Sacks (5.5), TFL (6.5), Pass Breakups (6) and INT’s (2). His ability to make plays anywhere on the field is what makes him such a valuable asset to this team.
SAF DeShawn Grayson
6’0, 205 lbs.
The playmaking defensive back for the Miners is back for his senior season and he will be looking to make it a memorable one. After having a strong sophomore campaign Grayson took the next step forward this past year by becoming more of a playmaker. He will be the team’s leading returning tackler and will be looked at to take on more of a leadership role this season. If Grayson can take that next step look for him to go from a fringe draftable prospect to a definite draft pick.
TE Kevin Perry
6’5, 255 lbs.
Perry didn’t have the kind of year last year that wowed you but he did prove to be a reliable target with soft hands and the ability to get open. With UTEP losing three of its top RB’s this season the onus will be on the passing game to carry the defense especially early on. While we all know about Mike Edwards on the outside, it may be Perry working in the middle and down the seam who could become a valuable weapon this year.
WR Vance McDonald
6’5, 260 lbs.
The big play WR was one of Rice’s only weapons last year as the team once again struggled to play competitive football consistently in the CUSA. McDonald and Luke Wilson are the team’s two big weapons but there is hope that the move of Sam McGuffie to WR permanently can help take some attention off McDonald and Wilson and open up some room outside. McDonald led the team last year in receiving catches 43 passes for 532 yards and five scores. If McGuffie can succeed in taking some attention away from McDonald then Rice might just have the best aerial attack in the city of Houston.
SAF Paul Porras*
6’1, 190 lbs.
Coming into last year Porres was a complete unknown to almost anybody, entering this year he’s still widely unknown but not for much longer. Porres was a machine last year for the Owls defense. He made plays in every facet of the game and produced at an alarming rate. His 91 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 INT, 2 FF, and 8 Pass Breakups all ranked among the team leaders in each category. He has great size, and good range to go along with his knack for making the big play.
RB Orleans Darkwa*
6’0, 219 lbs.
New Head Coach Curtis Johnson has already made big waves in recruiting for Tulane but it’s what he can do on the field that may be an even bigger impact. Johnson inherits Darkwa who was a beast last season rushing for 924 yards and 13 TD’s despite being Tulane’s only offensive weapon. He combines power with speed and gave CUSA defenses trouble all season long. He’s a bigger back but he runs with a good pad level and does not run away from contact. Look for Darkwa to eclipse 1,000 yards this season.
CB Ryan Travis
6’0, 172 lbs.
Travis is yet another under the radar DB in the CUSA who should start turning heads really soon. The athletic playmaking CB is coming off a career year last year where he recorded four INT’s to go along with six pass breakups. He added 59 tackles to those numbers as he became a force in run support crashing down from his CB spot. He has the size to potentially be a nice press CB but we need to see him put on some more weight and muscle.