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Conference USA: Seven New Faces to Watch in 2020

Here’s a look at seven players with impressive credentials who are C-USA newcomers.

NCAA Football: Boise State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Conference USA is loaded with talented players who are looking to make their mark in 2020.

With the graduation of several stars, expect to see the emergence of new names across the C-USA landscape.

With transfer season in full swing, here’s our look at seven players who may be unknown to fans across the league, but bring impressive credentials with them to their new homes.

7. Martell Pettaway: RB - MTSU

The former three-star prospect from the suburbs of Detroit was the second-leading rusher for West Virginia in 2018.

However, with Dana Holgorsen’s departure to Houston and Neal Brown’s arrival, he fell out of favor after beginning the season as a co-starter at running back.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas
Pettaway rushed for over 600 yards in 2019 for former West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Stockstill will look to bolster a rushing attack that while ranked third overall in C-USA, the running back trio of Chaton Mobley, Jayy McDonald and Terelle West combined for 702 yards on 131 carries.

Over one-third of those yards (268) came in a rushing explosion over Florida International.

6. Michael Collins: QB - Rice

The grad transfer from Texas Christian is a bit of a wildcard. Yes, this is the third program for the Connecticut native in his collegiate career.

TCU v Oklahoma State
Mike Collins brings starting experience with him to Rice.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

However, Rice’s quarterback situation isn’t a sure thing, despite returning Wiley Green, who has shown flashes of potential during his two seasons as an Owl.

At 6-5, 230-pounds, Collins has the prototypical size for a quarterback in Mike Bloomgren’s offense.

Also, it should be noted Bloomgren hasn’t been shy about using the graduate transfer market to find a quarterback.

The Owls’ primary starter in 2018 and 2019 were grad transfers in Shawn Stankavage and Tom Stewart, respectively.

5. T.J. Chase: WR - Florida Atlantic

The former four-star prospect has the potential to be a high-caliber player for Willie Taggart and the Owls in 2020.

Coming out of Plant City, Florida, Chase was ranked as the 10th best player in a state known for its high school talent. However, he wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup in his three seasons with the Clemson Tigers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 CFP Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State
Chase brings a litany of big-game experience with him to Boca Raton.
Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now at Florida Atlantic, Chase has the opportunity to have an immediate impact, as the Owls lose their top three leading receivers from last season’s conference championship team.

At 6-1, 195-pounds, he brings elite athleticism to an offense that features the league’s top quarterback in Chris Robison.

4. Aaron Young: WR - Florida Atlantic

Along with the aforementioned Chase, former Duke wideout Aaron Young will also be joining the Owls.

While Chase is the more high-profile player, Young has substantially more production at the collegiate level and is already at FAU, while Chase won't arrive until after spring.

Duke v Virginia
Aaron Young has a chance to play a starring role after spending three seasons as a complimentary piece.
Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

The 6-5, 210-pound California native hauled in 63 catches for 849 yards and seven touchdowns over his four seasons in Durham.

While the Owls have former C-USA All-Freshmen performer Willie Wright and the dependable John Mitchell coming back, Young has a chance to start immediately in Boca Raton.

3. Jeremiah “JJ” Holloman: WR - FIU

The last time Jeremiah Holloman saw game action on the football field, he was making child’s play out of opposing defensive backs in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” for the Georgia Bulldogs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Florida v Georgia
Holloman should be a fixture in the endzone for FIU.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now at FIU, he will become one of the top playmakers in Conference USA the moment Butch Davis’ Panthers open their season against Jacksonville State.

The former four-star recruit started five games for SEC’s runner-up in 2018, hauling in 24 catches for 418 yards and five touchdowns - including two against the ninth-ranked Florida Gators.

He was dismissed from Georgia in June of 2019 following an off-field incident and landed in Miami two months later.

With the Panthers losing three seniors at the receiver position, expect JJ Holloman to be a featured player in the FIU offense.

2. Tyson Maeva: LB - FIU

The Panthers have transfers on both sides of the ball who should make an immediate impact in 2020.

Tyson Maeva spent three seasons at Boise State, where he started 25 games and recorded 166 tackles as a two-year starter.

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Boise State vs Oregon
Tyson Maeva was an extremely popular Bronco during his time in Boise.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

However, he and the team parted ways after a “violation of team standards” which resulted in him being sent home from the Broncos’ bowl game two days before kickoff.

At FIU, he’ll be tasked with replacing the void left behind by middle linebacker Sage Lewis, who was one of the top tacklers in Conference USA over the past two seasons.

1. Tre Harbison: RB - Charlotte

The top spot on this list goes to a player who was one of the top talents in the Mid-American Conference in 2018 and 2019.

Tre Harbison rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons at Northern Illinois, but he entered the transfer portal hours before the Huskies’ season-finale against Western Michigan - a game they lost by seven points.

Curious timing aside, NIU’s loss has been Charlotte’s gain, as the suburban Charlotte native makes his return to the Carolinas.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Northern Illinois at Toledo
Tre Harbison should be an instant candidate for C-USA Newcomer of the Year in 2020.
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For Will Healy, he couldn’t have asked for a better replacement at running back with the Niners losing C-USA’s top rusher over the previous two seasons in Benny Lemay.

If Charlotte is going to make a run at an East division crown - Harbison will play a significant factor in those efforts.