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Rice WR Rozner opts out of 2020 season, Bloomgren names starting QB

TCU transfer Mike Collins wins the starting QB job, but he will be without Rice’s leading receiver from 2019.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Rice at UTSA Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rice begins its 2020 season on Oct. 24, but the Owls will be without one of their premier offensive leaders.

Junior wide receiver Brad Rozner, Rice’s leader in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2019, has elected to opt out of the 2020 season.

“Rozner has made the decision to opt out this fall,” head coach Mike Bloomgren said in a post-scrimmage press conference Saturday. “He had a surgery and he will opt out of the season.”

After a team-high 770 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his first season with the Owls, Rozner was selected as an honorable mention for the All-C-USA team. He entered 2020 with plenty of hype, landing spots on the Athlon Sports and Phil Steele Preseason all-conference squads. The former junior college transfer served as Rice’s primary deep threat target in the 2019 offense with an average of 14 yards per reception.

This season, the receiving corps will be led by longtime contributor Austin Trammell, who ranked first on the team in receptions each of the past two seasons. The senior will likely line up opposite of August Pitre III (third on the Owls in receptions and receiving yards in 2019) on Rice’s first-team offense.

“It’s next man up,” Rice quarterback Mike Collins said. “We’ve got a lot of receivers in there and we’ve got a lot of guys getting reps in fall camp and in the walkthroughs beforehand. We’ve got a chance to really gel with a lot of guys and feel comfortable with whoever’s out there. Rozner is a really talented player but thankfully we’ve had some other guys step up — August Pitre, Andrew Mason, Austin Trammell, and Jake Bailey have all done a really good job. Even the freshman walk-on receivers have done a great job too.”

Collins, a transfer from TCU, was officially named Rice’s starting quarterback Saturday by Bloomgren. Collins competed for the role against redshirt freshman JoVoni Johnson, who played in four games last season including a start against Marshall.

“Mike has just been a head above,” Bloomgren said. “It’s not like it’s been in one day. It’s been consistent throughout this camp. JoVoni will have a role for our offense and JoVoni has our trust, so we would be very confident in JoVoni going in for a series or any number of plays.”

After a long delay to start the year, Collins and the Owls will take the field for the first time in 2020 at home against Middle Tennessee on Oct. 24.