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NCAA Football: Arizona at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Projected 2019 Houston Cougars Depth Chart

Let’s try and predict who will start for Houston this year.

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.

QUARTERBACK

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.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Texas
Porter will see the field, but how often remains the question with four seniors on the team.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

RUNNING BACK

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.

WIDE RECEIVER

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.

TIGHT END

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.

OFFENSIVE LINE

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.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Houston
Turner will play, but it might be on the inside this year.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSIVE LINE

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.

LINEBACKER

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.

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.

SPECIAL TEAMS

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.

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