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Projecting Texas State's 2015 Depth Chart (Updated 7/15/2015)

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Texas State should be loaded on offense next season, but the defensive side of the ball could pose some question marks (again).

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Our long national nightmare, the college football offseason, has descended upon us once again.

There are, of course, ways to survive the college football offseason apocalypse, such as taking a ridiculously early crack at a team's possible depth chart for the following season that will probably look hilariously wrong in September. Baylor's SBNation site, OurDailyBears, has already created their depth chart, so I made a depth chart for the Texas State Bobcats in a similar format.

The first chart for each unit shows the starting lineup and second team as per the game notes of the last game of the 2014 season (Georgia State). Players that are returning will be indicated in bold font, and players who have graduated, transferred, or left the program for undisclosed reasons have been indicated in italics. The second chart is the first stab at what the depth chart might look like in 2015.

Texas State Offense

2014-2015:

POSITION # FIRST TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES # SECOND TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES
QB 2 Tyler Jones (SO) 20 20 12 Connor White(FR) 0 3
TB 28 Robert Lowe (JR) 20 30 20 Terrence Franks (SR) 13 48
Z (WR) 5 Brandon Smith (JR) 25 35 80 Jafus Gaines(JR) 9 28
H (IR) 9 C.J. Best (JR) 5 12 6 Randy Price (JR) 0 8
X (WR) 1 Ben Ijah (SR) 22 33 88 Brice Gunter (RS-FR) 0 11
TE/Y Receiver 14 Bradley Miller (SR) 10 47 84 Ryan Carden (JR) 6 21
TE 85 Lawrence White (SR) 3 21 87 David Lewis (SR) 9 43
LT 64 Adrian Bellard (JR) 24 35 70 Jackson Hoskins (RS-FR) 0 2
LG 77 Felix Romero (SO) 22 24 62 Brandon Sarabia (JR) 3 8
C 50 Collin Fissell (SR) 14 34 56 Matt Freeman (JR) 23 25
RG 72 Charlie Will Tuttle (SR) 41 47 58 Zach Crawford (JR) 6 19
RT 76 Ryan Melton (SO) 18 21 73 Hayden Lambert (SO) 0 2

Quick note: Since Texas State often likes to use two tight end sets to set up run plays, there's an extra blocking tight end position to the two deep. Consider the TE/Y position to be the first string akin to what Brad Miller played during this past season.

The core of Texas State's offensive attack will return as Jones, Lowe, and end around/receiving threat C.J. Best all return, and the return of Brandon Smith as well as Brice Gunter should help Texas State's receiving corps remain a strong unit. Returning Melton, who started every game of 2014, and Bellard, who started to play to potential on the left side of the line, should provide a couple of strong anchors on the edge to let Lowe and Best get outside. The biggest question will be who will take the other blocking/receiving hybrid tight end position opposite Ryan Carden.

SENIORS GRADUATING: 7 | STARTERS LEAVING: 5

2015-2016:

POSITION # FIRST TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES # SECOND TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES
QB 2 Tyler Jones (JR) 20 20 12 Connor White (SO) 0 3
TB 28 Robert Lowe (SR) 20 30 30 Chris Nutall (SR) 0 11
Z (WR) 5 Brandon Smith (SR) 25 35 10 Demun Mercer (SO) 0 11
H (IR) 9 C.J. Best (SR) 5 12 89 Ryan Garrey (SR) 0 11
X (WR) 80 Jafus Gaines (SR) 9 28 88 Brice Gunter(SO) 0 11
TE/Y Receiver 87 Chris French (JR-TR) 0 0 84 Ryan Carden (SR) 6 21
TE 85 Lawrence White (SR) 3 21 32 Gabe Schrade (SO) 0 11
LT 64 Adrian Bellard (SR) 24 35 73 Hayden Lambert (JR) 0 2
LG 77 Felix Romero (JR) 22 24 62 Brandon Sarabia (SR) 3 8
C 70 Jackson Hoskins (SO) 0 2 67 Tryston Mizerak (RS-FR) 0 0
RG 58 Zach Crawford (SR) 6 19 75 Will Copa (RS-FR) 0 0
RT 76 Ryan Melton (JR) 18 21 79 Kian Schoenborn (RS-FR) 0 0

The loss of Terrence Franks as a 1-2 punch with Robert Lowe will hurt, but if power back Chris Nutall can get his academic issues straight, Bobcat fans may once again see him plow through opposing defenses like he did against Wyoming in 2013. If he's not available, Tim Gay will likely get the nod for the number two spot as he took the occasional carry behind Franks and Lowe in 2014.

Some help at tight end is on the way via three star (Rivals) JUCO commit Chris French, who has signed with the Bobcats over P5 suitors Illinois and Iowa State and will likely be opposite Carden unless Franchione and Schulz opt to use a more blocking-oriented tight end in two TE sets.

UPDATE 4/7/2015: Matt Freeman is no longer listed on the roster, so figuring out who will play center is possibly the biggest question facing the offense. Coach Fran gave Hoskins the probable nod over the radio during the Spring Game, but the backup spot may be up for grabs.

WR Randy Price is no longer on the roster despite being initially selected for the Maroon team, so I've put senior Ryan Garrey in his spot based on his participation in the Maroon/Gold game. Keep an eye on Demun Mercer and Brice Gunter to push for starting spots as well--they became consistent targets of Jones during the Spring Game and could take over the spots of talented but mercurial receivers Gaines and Smith if they keep their production up.

I've also inserted French over Carden into the starting lineup opposite White based on his play in the Spring Game. Tim Gay could also line up at TE if the coaches decide to get creative with their play calls.

Players to watch: Chris French (TE), Brice Gunter (WR), Demun Mercer (WR)

Defense

2014-2015

POSITION # FIRST TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES # SECOND TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES
DE 57 Karee Berry (FR-RS) 3 11 41 Jeff Banks (FR-RS) 3 8
NT 63 Dallas McClarty (SO) 11 17 59 Dondre Elvoid (JR) 0 11
DT 42 Mershad Dillon (JR) 10 12 53 Will Trevillion (FR-RS) 0 11
DE 55 Michael Odiari (SR) 12 23 82 Kris Petersen (SR) 7 23
SLB 3 David Mayo (SR) 28 29 4 Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon (JR) 4 35
MLB 52 Trey McGowan (JR) 7 13 40 Stephen Smith (SO) 5 20
WS/Rover 9 Aaron Shaw (JR) 7 12 2 Demetrius Woodard (JR) 4 9
S 15 Dila Rosemond (FR-RS) 3 11 12 Germod Williams (SO) 8 17
FS 27 Colby Targun (SR) 24 33 17 Damani Alexcee (SO) 1 21
FCB 22 David Mims II (JR) 13 30 6 Brandon McDowell (FR-RS) 0 10
BCB 25 Craig Mager (SR) 48 48 23 Clarence Guidry III (FR) 0 11

The good news is that in terms of raw numbers, Texas State's not losing a ton of seniors from their two-deep at the end of this season. The bad news is, Texas State's essentially losing the four best starters on their defense and are left with a gaping hole at right defensive end. Odiari and Mayo were utterly instrumental in developing Texas State's pass rush in the absence of injured (and now departed) linebacker Mike Orakpo, and the impact of losing Mayo as an overall leader of the defense can't be overstated.

SENIORS GRADUATING: 5 | STARTERS LEAVING: 4

2015-2016

POSITION # FIRST TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES # SECOND TEAM STARTS APPEARANCES
DE 4 Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon (SR) 4 35 41 Jeff Banks (SO) 3 8
NT 63 Dallas McClarty (JR) 11 17 59 Dondre Elvoid (SR) 0 11
DT 42 Mershad Dillon (SR) 10 12 93 Cedric Gambrell (RS-FR) 0 0
DE 57 Karee Berry (SO) 3 11 44 Roosevelt Pearson (RS-JR) 0 0
SLB 40 Stephen Smith (JR) 5 20 35 Darnell Dailey (RS-JR) 0 0
MLB 52 Trey McGowan (JR) 7 13 8 Teron Fitzgerald (JR) 0 0
WS/Rover 15 Dila Rosemond (SO) 3 11 19 Stephan Johnson(SO) 0 10
S 2 Demetrius Woodard (SR) 4 9 47 Easy Anyama (SO) 0 0
FS 9 Aaron Shaw (SR) 7 12 17 Damani Alexcee (JR) 1 21
FCB 22 David Mims, II (SR) 13 30 23 Clarence Guidry, III (SO) 0 11
BCB 6 Brandon McDowell (SO) 0 10 5 Donta Clanton 0 1

Despite the impending loss of production, there are pieces for defensive coordinator John Thompson to build his typical aggressive, blitz-heavy defense around. David Mims II has developed solid coverage skills to the point where he led the team in interceptions in 2014 (5) and will be a worthy successor to Craig Mager in defending the pass.

UPDATE 4/7/2015: Germod Williams is transferring, but there's still plenty of talent in the secondary with Mims at CB, Shaw at FS, and Rosemond read to wreak havoc at Rover. I've changed the backup spot behind McDowell from Devondric Dixon to Donta Clanton given his play in the spring game and Dixon not suiting up.

Jeff Banks should have the first backup DE slot locked in, but the 2nd spot is still up for grabs. Brian Guendling recorded a couple of tackles and took a few snaps in four games, Roosevelt Pearson could be a factor if healthy, and Cedric Gambrell--a three star recruit who also earned offers from UNT and SMU--took a redshirt. Guendling has more experience, but don't count out Gambrell's size (6'6" 255) and raw talent. Also keep an eye on Javier Edwards--if he qualifies and makes it to San Marcos this fall, he could potentially start at DT.

Smith and McGowan inherit the linebacker spots from Orakpo and Mayo by default, but both backup spots are very much up for grabs. Darnell Dailey did himself justice in the spring game, but Teron Fitzgerald, Bo Anderson, Ishmael Davis, and John Martinez could all be contenders for backup spots. With five linebackers in the 2015 recruiting class, one thing will be certain--the linebacker spots behind Smith and McGowan will be young and inexperienced.

UPDATE 6/3/2015: Phil Steele seems to have faith in Cedric Gambrell as he listed the redshirt freshman DE as 4th team all-Sun Belt. That pic seems like a bit of a reach for someone who hasn't played a down yet, but he's been getting some hype lately. I've moved him up to second string over Guendling for now, and we'll see if he lives up to his billing.

UPDATE: 7/15/2015: Jack Albrecht of BobcatReport said that Gambrell has bulked up in the weight room and is being moved inside to defensive tackle. That could mean that depth at defensive end is better than expected, or that the defensive tackle position could use some help (or perhaps a bit of both). Let's hope it's more the former than the latter.

I've moved Gambrell to backup DT and Roosevelt Pearson to 2nd string DE as a result of Jack's report.

Players to watch: Karee Berry (DE), Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon (LB), Dila Rosemond (S)

Final Thoughts

Texas State's offense clicked in the final two games of the season and will return the vast majority of the personnel that finally mastered the triple option/zone read no huddle attack. Dennis Franchione and Mike Schultz will have some work to do in getting their tight ends up to speed with their blocking and receiving assignments and figuring out the center spot, but the overall picture for the offense looks as bright as it has ever been in Coach Fran's second stint at Texas State.

The defense, however, faces the challenge of the departure of a significant amount of upperclassmen and the leadership they provided. Defensive coordinator John Thompson managed to mold together a (mostly) serviceable defense last year despite losing most of his defensive line and secondary on a shortened timetable, so anything's possible.

Bizarre things happen in college football and they rarely play out the way they should on paper. For instance, Texas State's offense stalled against the likes of Idaho but exploded against Arkansas State, and the Bobcat defense put up a serious fight against Georgia Southern and South Alabama but took a week off against lowly New Mexico State. However, from where we stand at about seven and a half months (ugh) three months until next season kicks off, it appears that Texas State's postseason hopes will hinge on how effectively the defense can absorb the losses of Mayo, Mager, Odiari, and Targun.

I'll do more depth chart projections and updates as the offseason goes along and the 2015 picture gets clearer.

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