As is the case with any coaching change, there will be a multitude of roster changes. Mostly, they are insignificant changes like a walk-on leaving the team or a fourth string guard transferring.
Occasionally, changes within the program are significant and require a more in-depth look at the entire situation. Let's take a look at the incoming and outgoing players from the 2016 ULM roster.
The Warhawks had 15 senior/graduate players that exhausted their eligibility in the 2015 season. Among the players that have departed from the program are wide receiver Rashon Ceaser and defensive tackle Gerrand Johnson. The duo have NFL aspirations and both struggled through injury plagued seasons last fall.
Johnson finished fifth on the team in tackles last fall for a grand total of 265 tackles during his career. Ceaser, despite only 31 catches in 2015, ended his career with 191 catches for 2,423 yards and 12 touchdowns at ULM.
Others lost to graduation include Cody Robinson (53 tackles in 2015), Michael Johnson (103 tackles in 2015), Hunter Kissinger (133 tackles in 2015), Lorenzo Jackson (26 tackles in 2015), Trey Caldwell (52 tackles in 2015), and offensive lineman Colby Mitchell.
Then there is a group of nine players that are no longer on the roster, but did not use up their eligibility. The biggest name on the list is defensive lineman Ben Banogu. The Texas native left the Warhawks to go back home and join Big 12 program Texas Christian University. His loss is enormous after Banogu had 45 tackles, 14.5 for loss, and 5 sacks in 2015 as a redshirt freshman.
Another big loss is punter Chris Qualls. The rising sophomore was the leading punter for the team in 2015, punting 87 times on the season. While he didn't blow anyone away with a 36.7 yards per punt average as a freshman, he will be missed with ULM not showing a single punter on the entire 2016 roster.
Offensive lineman Chase Regian is also no longer on the roster after starting eight games in 2015. He made a total of 19 starts for the Warhawks in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Outside of that trio, the remaining players that are no longer on the roster are bit players at best.
The Warhawks have 19 new players added to the roster from the 2016 recruiting class. JUCO transfers Terry Ausborne Jr., Tyler Johnson, and Thomas Koufie lead a group of incoming players that will add much needed size to the program. Expect several incoming players on both sides of the ball to compete for playing time early in their careers.
Attempting to figure out how JUCO transfers and incoming freshmen will do at the FBS level is one thing, judging players that have already played for the Warhawks is another.
Justin Backus, a stalwart in the secondary before getting kicked off the team last fall, is getting another chance under new head coach Matt Viator. Backus is a very talented player that has struggled on multiple occasions to control his behavioral issues.
Former head coach Todd Berry mentioned Backus' behavior when announcing the dismissal last fall.
"We have some high expectations of our team and they do for each other," Berry said. "Justin behaviorally had crossed the line too many times…he had been warned that if it happened again there would be natural consequences."
Tre' Perrier is another player that left the team last fall, but is back on the roster under Viator. He left the team under odd circumstances that involved his scholarship versus walk-on status. He was actually the projected starter for the Georgia Southern game when he left the team last season.
Both are seniors in 2016 and will have one year of eligibility remaining.