Dana Holgorsen enters his first season as Houston’s head coach, and there’s a lot to learn. Depth chart questions remain aplenty, but today we take a stab at some depth chart predictions.
Starter: D’Eriq King
Backup: Clayton Tune
Comments: Dana Holgorsen made it known that he wasn’t thrilled with how the previous regime handled the quarterback situation. He said that King should have two more years left and Tune should have been given a redshirt last year. King’s health remains vitally important this year in order to keep the potential of redshirting the other three (which is technically still possible). King returns as the best quarterback in the conference, and quite possibly the most complete quarterback in the country.
Starter: Patrick Carr
Rotation: Mulbah Car, Kyle Porter
Comments: This is a tough position to navigate. Porter’s arguably the most talented running back, but Houston has four seniors at the position. Carr and Car have been running the backfield for the last few years, so it’s going to be crowded. Those two and Porter should receive a majority of the carries, and it’s going to be tough for anyone else to get into the rotation.
Starters: Marquez Stevenson, Keith Corbin, Courtney Lark
Rotation: Bryson Smith, Jeremy Singleton, Terry Mark, Tre’Von Bradley Julon Williams
Comments: Good luck getting into the Top 6 if you’re not already there. This group is one of the best in the country. Stevenson, Corbin, and Lark all have tremendous speed to burn a secondary. They combined for almost 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns last year. Smith, Singleton, and Mark make for a solid next three, so it will be tough for anyone to crack that group too. Bradley made a few big plays in the spring, which could put him in the rotation. Williams appears to be the next D’Eriq King and Bryson Smith as a quarterback who plays wide receiver and is utilized in many ways.
Starter: Parker Eichenberger
Rotation: Christian Trahan, Shane Creamer
Comments: Romello Brooker left a solid hole after having a breakout season. Eichenberger and Trahan saw time, but not enough to know which one is taking over. Creamer’s name continues to be mentioned for his work in the weight room, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was in the rotation. One of those three will most likely get a redshirt to stretch out the talent to next year too.
Left Tackle: Josh Jones
Left Guard: Keenan Murphy
Center: Braylon Jones
Right Guard: Dennis Bardwell
Right Tackle: Jarrid Williams
Rotation/Backups: Max Banes, Cole Miller, Chayse Todd, Jack Freeman, Kameron Lewis
Comments: Replacing Will Noble and Mason Denley will be tough, but not impossible. Kameron Eloph’s retirement forced Braylon Jones to take over at center. With the skill positions set, this group will be watched intensely. Williams and both Jones’ are leaders, and should be steady. Braylon’s transition to center will be interesting. Williams could be an NFL Draft pick next year if he continues his upward trajectory.
Defensive End: Isaiah Chambers
Nose Tackle: Olivier Charles-Pierre
Defensive Tackle: Aymiel Fleming
DE/Bandit: Payton Turner/David Anenih
Rotation: Taures Payne, Logan Hall, Blake Young, JaMykal Neal, Atlias Bell
Comments: It’s tough to imagine Turner moving to the inside, but not impossible. The Bandit position could still be used, which Anenih would fill. It’s more of a pass rushing defensive end, and Anenih’s speed makes him a leading candidate for the position. Holgorsen brought in numerous junior college recruits, which means he expects them to compete. Charles-Pierre and Payne bring in great talent that will push for starting positions.
Starters: Leroy Godfrey, Derek Parish
Rotation: Elijah Gooden, Donavan Mutin, Grant Stuard, Jordan Milburn
Comments: Godfrey could play Bandit, but I’d have to see how much that position is used (it would also take a defensive end off the field too). Parish is about as technically sound as you will find. He’s a textbook linebacker and rarely makes devastating mistakes. Gooden, Mutin and Milburn all saw the field last year and will again in 2019. Stuard will be used at multiple positions, so he could see time at linebacker, Bandit, and at defensive back.
Cornerbacks: Damarion Williams, Ka’Darian Smith,
Nickelback: Grant Stuard
Safeties: Gleson Sprewell, Deontay Anderson
Rotation: D.J. Small, Jonathan Phenix, Darius Gilbert
Comments: If defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen uses a 4-2-5 again, the nickelback comes into play. Depending on how that position is used, Stuard or Sprewell could take that spot. If Stuard can play that spot, Sprewell remains at safety. Williams should win one of the cornerback spots, and Ka’Darian Smith should take the other since Javian Smith is hurt for the season. Transfers like Jordan Moore (safety), Thabo Mwaniki (safety), and Marcus Jones (cornerback) are waiting for their appeals for immediate eligibility. It’s safe to say they would provide immense depth if they were granted eligibility for this year.
Punter: Dane Roy
Kicker: Dalton Witherspoon
Punt Returner: Bryson Smith
Kick Returners: Marquez Stevenson, Bryson Smith
Comments: All starters here return, giving the Cougars stability at special teams. Marcus Jones (depending on his appeal) could also be added as a kick returner. Roy is one of the most consistent punters in the country, and Witherspoon is fairly consistent.