InsideRunnerSports reporter JJ Perez shares his thoughts on several topics.
My journal entry for 1.20.15.
Two More Jucos
On the last day that Juco players could sign letters of intent, UTSA
announced the signings of players Vontrell Williams (DT) and Ben Kane (DE) late last week. A few weeks earlier, UTSA inked three other Juco players: La'kel Bass (LB), Jonathan Tuiolosega (DT), and Corbin White (RB). With the graduation of key contributors at each of these positions, these five junior college players could come in and have an immediate impact on next season's squad. All five players are currently on campus and enrolled in classes. That means each will be able to participate in spring ball and have a leg up on any newcomers at their position. UTSA is not done at the Juco ranks. There is one more Juco commit who will graduate in May and several other prospects on the radar. Depending on how things play out, this could be the best group of Juco players that UTSA has acquired.
Countdown to Spring Ball
Speaking of it, let the countdown to Spring Football begin. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, April 18. That is when the 2015 Spring Game will be held at the Alamodome. Look for UTSA to begin Spring ball sometime in mid-March, on or around Spring Break. This may be one of the most watched springs in the program's short history. With 37 seniors graduated, there will be competition for playing time at all but a handful of positions. Some of the questions headed into the spring will be: Who emerges are the starter/backup at QB; How does an young offensive line develop; Who sees time along the new look defensive line; Does the secondary improve with some younger players seeing more time; and much more.
As of Tuesday, UTSA's 2015 recruiting class stands at 28 commits. Here's how the class breaks down: There are 15 offensive commits: 2 Quarterbacks, 5 Running Backs, 4 Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, and 4 Offensive Linemen. There are 13 defensive commits: 3 Defensive Backs, 7 Defensive Linemen, and 3 Linebackers. There are 6 Jucos, 5 of which have already signed their LOI, and 2 high school players who graduated early. Both have already enrolled in classes. Depending on how UTSA manages the numbers, we may see anywhere from 2 to 7 more players added by National Signing Day. A lot will depend on if there are any additional transfers as well if staff decides award scholarships to any walk on players currently on the roster, and/or if any attrition occurs. Typically, a full class recruiting class is 25 LOIs. NCAA Bylaws permit oversigning up to 28 LOIs. But it's important to note that those are what the NCAA calls "initial counters." Without getting overly technical, since UTSA did not sign a full class in 2014 and they are under the 85-max scholarship limit, some of the commits (the 7 early signees already on campus) count backwards to the last class. It's difficult to know what to calculate exact number of spots remaining as UTSA does not make scholarship information available. However the important thing to note is that UTSA will have a full class and could potentially oversign this recruiting cycle.
Earlier in the month we learned that offensive line coach Jim Marshall and wide receivers coach Marquis Mosely would not return to the staff next season. A search immediately began as several candidates visited campus and were interviewed. Several sources have confirmed to IRS that the former WR Coach Tony Jeffery is in line to return at the same position. Jeffery is a logical choice as he is very familiar with UTSA's system. The offensive line coaching candidate is more of a mystery. The top choice is an unknown candidate who has been out of coaching for awhile. Whoever it is, the new o-line coach will face a good challenge rebuilding an offensive line. With only several returning offensive linemen having game experience, a lot will be placed on the shoulders of some of the younger players on the roster. The growth and development of the offensive line may be the number storyline of this spring. The official announcement of the two new coaches isn't expected until after Feb 1.
UTSA's 2015 Pro Day is tentatively scheduled to be on March 23 (that day is subject to change). Over the weekend, former UTSA LB Jens Jeters signed with an agent. Several other former players have or will do the same. Although it's unclear who or how many players will participate, this year's Pro Day promises to be the largest in program's history. Jeters, Scott Inskeep, Ashaad Mabry, Kam Jones, and very many others have spent many hours working out since the end of last season. With so many players aspiring to get to the next level, UTSA's 2015 Pro Day promises to be a very exciting day for former players.
UTSA Hoops Still Working
UTSA Basketball sports an 8-8 record. After a few good wins recently, UTSA fell to a very good UTEP team on Saturday in the Convocation Center. Overall, the 'Runners have shown vast improvement from last season's squad. A very young and athletic team, UTSA continues to improve. Although it may not seem so in the standings, the 'Runners are a very talented squad. The story so far of this season has been the team's inability to play complete games. We've seen lulls in both the first and second halves that have cost them. Those type of things happen with young teams. Despite that, UTSA is still in the middle of the pack of the CUSA standings with a 2-3 conference record. UTSA does boast one of the top scoring offenses in the conference. The 'Runners are scoring 71.6 points per game, that's 4th behind league-leading La Tech (75.6 ppg). This week the 'Runners are on the road. Thursday they play at Marshall, then they play at Western Kentucky on Saturday. WKU is 5-0 in CUSA play and also boasts one of the best offense in CUSA. The biggest challenge for this UTSA team will remain their defense effort. Marshall has a good scoring squad as well. We'll see how the 'Runner defense holds up this week vs two offensively potent squads.
Recruiting is an interesting topic to cover and report about. It's easy to forget that at the end of the day, these are just 17-18 year old kids making decisions that will affect the rest of their life. Words like de-commit, flip, soft commit, etc. will be thrown around in the coming weeks. It's important to note that it's okay if a specific player does not pick your school. No matter how highly rated or how many stars a prospect has, it's difficult to know how that player will develop a few years from now. For the school, and for UTSA specifically, it's very much a numbers game. Especially with this class. Having to replacing the largest graduating class in the program's history is a task in and of itself. Players are going to de-commit and/or change their minds. That is a certainty in recruiting. But the most important thing is that UTSA lands the number and quality of players they want.
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