Overview: Gone is leading receiver Deontay Greenberry, who chose the Cougars over Notre Dame and declared for the NFL draft early as a junior. Gone is Markeith Ambles, who led the team is yard per catch. Gone is Daniel Spencer, who had his season end early and was on pace to have a better year than his junior season. Also gone is Wayne Beadle. With no clear cut favorite as to who will be the starters at wide receiver, this current unit will have huge steps to fill. The early favorite for the number 1 receiver job might be DeMarcus Ayers. The junior has the most experience on the team and he was third on the team with 335 receiving yards. Ayers has the speed to make defenders miss, but at 5’10 he may be considered too short to be an outside receiver. The Cougar’s prior coaching staff used him inside in the slot last season. Steven Dunbar got experience early in his college career playing all 13 games as a true freshman including starting the final game of the season, the Armed Forces Bowl. Dunbar possesses with height (6’2) you look for in an outside receiver, but he needs to add weight (195 pounds) to be more physical. A breakout season could be on the horizon for Dunbar as a sophomore if he gets stronger. The Cougars got good news this spring when Oregon transfer Chance Allen was declared eligible for the upcoming season. Allen, who attended Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas will have two seasons of eligibility left for the Cougars and he will most definitely be in the wide receiver mix. He possesses the same height as Dunbar, but he is bigger (200 pounds). Another name to keep an eye on is Donald Gage. The redshirt sophomore was sidelined mostly all last season with an ACL injury he suffered last spring. Gage was highly regarded as recruit coming out of Louisiana, and this season will be his first season where he will actually get to play. Rounding out the receiving core is sophomore John Leday, who sat out all last season with an injury and he was awarded a medical redshirt. Cameron Oliver, who appeared in four games this past season. Isaiah Johnson, who redshirt this past season. Johnson may be a sleeper to get some playing time this season especially in the redzone because of his track background in high school where he finished third in the Texas State Championship in the 110-meter hurdles. Latrell Martin, who also redshirted and freshman WR Devin Smith, who joined the team in the spring.
For the first time in a while, the tight end position will be implemented in the offense. Although there is no clear cut favorite on who will be the starting TE when the season begins, Coach Herman has some intriguing options. A couple of wide receivers from last season have made the change to the tight end position. Romello Broker redshirt last season, but figures to be in the tight end mix. He possesses very good size but he weighs the least out of the other tight ends on the roster. Hayden Daniels, brother of Baltimore Ravens and former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels definitely has the pedigree to play tight end. The Cougars brought in a couple of tight ends late in the recruiting process. Freshman Ryan Deshotel, who was named to the Houston Chronicle top 100 list definitely has the height (6’4) and weight (241) to get playing time at the position right away. Fellow Freshman Kobi Idumwonyi could possibly get playing time early as well. One thing to keep in mind, Coach Herman likes tight ends who can block. Just like he was coached under Urban Meyer, Meyer says “If you can’t block, you won’t play”.
Recruiting/Transfer: Just like I said when I previewed the runningback position, the Cougars might not have a WR or TE committed so far for the 2016 class that will definitely change as we get closer to signing day. One name to key an eye out for is Westfield High School WR Tyrie Cleveland. Cleveland, who decommitted from Texas A&M has offers from several big time schools. What Houston has going for them is just like Dillon Sterling-Cole his former High School coach Corby Meekins is on the Cougar’s coaching staff. Cougars will also have help coming in 2016 via the transfer Ra’Sheed Samples. Samples, who transferred from Oklahoma St. will figure to be in the receiver mix for 2016.
It’s going to be interesting to see who will emerge as the starters at both WR and TE for this season. There is talent at the position, but young talent.
Next up: Offensive Line