Major Applewhite’s first season was filled with inconsistencies, but they found some answers towards the end of the season. Throw in some transfers in the offseason, and the Cougars might be back on track. Before getting too excited, there are some questions remaining before the 2018 season begins. Who emerges at receiver? Will the secondary show some improvement? Which transfer will make the biggest impact? We could get some of those questions answered in the spring, and these five players could play a big role.
Darrion Owens, Linebacker
The Miami transfer saw action in 12 games last season, and 10 the year before. He comes at an opportune time for Houston, who saw D’Juan Hines and Matthew Adams exhaust their eligibility. Owens is a temporary solution as a graduate transfer, but should grab one of the starting spots at linebacker. He will bring experience to the inside, where there aren’t many players joining him that saw the field much. Austin Robinson was granted another year of eligibility, but anyone else that plays will be inexperienced. Owens could become a leader of the defense.
Isaiah Chambers, Defensive End
Besides improving the secondary, giving Ed Oliver breathing room will be the top priority for this defense. Chambers has yet to play a game, but could be another huge addition to the defense. Jerard Carter is expected to win one spot on the line, but the other spot remains the question. Payton Turner will be another name that will compete with Chambers, but both can contribute even if they don’t win the starting position.
Courtney Lark, Wide Receiver
Houston loses 76% of its receiving yards from last year, and their top returning receiver is quarterback D’Eriq King. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about this position, but doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t options. Lark flashed plenty of potential at times when teams tried to take away Steven Dunbar and Linell Bonner. King seemed to find some chemistry with Lark, and the junior has the talent to be the top target. The wide receiver position as a whole will be something to watch, and Lark could be the player that breaks out.
Kelan Walker, Running Back
Duke Catalon and Mulbah Car were the two steady backs last season, but that doesn’t mean this position is locked up. Both have experienced injuries at times, and that would open the door for Walker to step in. Having depth at running back won’t be a bad thing for Applewhite and new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, so Walker’s spring performance could land him a spot in the rotation. If anything, it gives Cougars fans something to look forward to in the future.
Update: With Duke Catalon leaving the team for personal reasons, Walker could step right in and compete for the starting job.
Deontay Anderson, Safety
This obviously hinges on his eligibility in 2018, but should be the favorite to win the job opposite of Garrett Davis. The former four star played every game his freshman year, and finished with 32 tackles. Anderson sat out the entire 2017 season in hopes that he could transfer to another school without penalty. So, expect to see him compete for a spot, but remember that it all depends on his eligibility. It would be a big surprise if he was ruled ineligible. Anderson could be the biggest addition to this team with his skillset, and the defensive backfield needs to improve mightily this year.
Which player is MOST likely to win a starting position?
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