I’ve long been mystified by college football fans that claim to simply not care about recruiting. Do they think championship-caliber players simply fall from the sky? Like it or not, recruiting is the lifeblood of college football and just one faulty class can lead to some pretty dark places. Allow UTSA’s 2012 recruiting class to be a cautionary tale as we head towards National Signing Day on February 1st.
Let’s flashback to February 2012. The UTSA Roadrunners had just completed their first season of football, compiling a 4-6 record with some impressive performances against accomplished FCS programs. Head coach Larry Coker had turned in successful recruiting classes in 2010 and 2011 as he built a strong foundation for the program with overlooked athletes.
With the Roadrunners set to make the jump up to the Western Athletic Conference in 2012 Coker needed to find FBS-level talent quickly. After building the program’s base with mostly high school talent, Coker moved his recruiting focus to the junior college ranks to seek an immediate boost of athleticism. Eight of the 23 players the Roadrunners signed in the class would come from the junior college ranks. Let’s take a look at each player in the class to see how their career turned out.
Armando Alvarez - 6’3”, 300 pound OL (Blinn JC) - Never made it to campus
Cody Berry - 6’1”, 215 pound DB (Pierce JC) - The biggest JUCO success in the class, Berry was a solid contributor at UTSA despite frequent injuries. Berry plays football for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League.
Brendon Brinkmann - 6’6”, 250 pound DL (Clear Springs HS) - Never played a snap for UTSA. Transferred to McMurry University where he would develop into a starter on the defensive line.
Tucker Carter - 6’3”, 215 pound QB (Trinity Valley CC) - Carter was briefly UTSA’s starting quarterback in 2014 but his senior season was hampered by severe shoulder injuries.
William Cavanaugh - 6’2”, 280 pound OL (Canyon HS) - Cavanaugh seemed to be the future cornerstone of the offensive line but his career regressed over the years. Ended up losing his starting job by his senior season.
Cody Cole - 6’4”, 275 pound OL (Bishop Verot HS) - Never saw significant snaps at UTSA.
Treston Coleman - 5’11”, 215 pound RB (Frankston HS) - Only played in one game for UTSA in 2014. Transferred to McMurry in 2015 and played in eight games. No longer listed on McMurry’s roster.
Zach Conque - 6’5”, 215 pound QB (Little Rock Catholic HS) - Once assumed to be the future of the program, Conque only saw a few snaps at UTSA. Transferred to Stephen F. Austin to play for his father, head coach Clint Conque. Enjoyed a highly decorated career at the FCS level.
Jordan Gray - 6’4”, 250 pound TE (Trimble Tech HS) - Ended up seeing significant playing time as an undersized tackle. On and off starter.
Brandon Guerrero - 6’2”, 240 pound LB (Fullerton JC) - Never played significant snaps for UTSA.
Zach Hester - 6’4”, 305 pound OL (Aldine HS) - Never played significant snaps for UTSA.
Ja’Len James - 5’10”, 175 pound DB (LaGrange HS) - Dismissed from the university in 2012. Transferred to McNeese State and played in four games in the 2013 season. No longer listed on their roster.
Brian King - 6’2”, 190 pound DB (Hutchinson CC) - Impressed with his athleticism but was never able to hold down his starting position throughout an entire season.
Trey Mohair - 5’11”, 185 pound DB (Denton Ryan HS) - Never made it to campus.
Skylar Nelson - 6’3”, 230 pound DL (Alamo Heights HS) - Grey shirted after an injury in high school but never played a snap for UTSA.
Maurice Poullard - 5’10”, 190 pound DB (Blinn JC) - Dismissed from the university in 2012. Transferred to SFA where he became a successful starter. Participated in the 2015 NFL regional combine.
Tre Rosser - 6’0”, 170 pound DB (Clarksville HS) - Dismissed from the university in 2012. Transferred to Tyler Junior College before ending up at SFA. Started five games in 2015 before missing the 2016 season with a knee injury.
Mason Russell - 6’6”, 290 pound OL (San Joaquin Delta JC) - Never made it to campus. Played one season for the New Mexico State Aggies, collecting 18 tackles and zero sacks.
Trevor Stevens - 6’4”, 240 pound TE (Friendswood HS) - The only guy on this list that started for UTSA last year, Steven was invaluable as a blocker in Frank Wilson’s pro-style offense. Caught his first and only touchdown pass in UTSA’s first ever bowl game in 2016.
Brian Vaughn - 5’9”, 180 pound RB (All Saints HS) - Never able to crack the depth chart at running back, Vaughn left the program in 2015.
Dan Winter - 6’4”, 250 pound DL (De Anza JC) - Left the team after just one season after making limited contributions in the 2012 season.
Charles Wort - 6’0”, 200 pound DB (New Braunfels HS) - Wort impressed as a freshman but was dismissed from the team as a sophomore. He ended up playing professional football in Italy. It looks like he had a lot of fun doing it.
Marcus Wright - 5’7”, 200 pound RB (Georgia Tech) - Wright was set to be UTSA’s first ever graduate transfer but for whatever reason the academics didn’t work out. Never made it to campus but did up playing for Incarnate Word.
To summarize, this recruiting class ended up with a total of three high school athletes that played starting snaps for UTSA at any point in their careers. Only three of the junior college transfers played starting snaps. Not a single player listed received any all-conference honors. Four of the signees never even made it to campus and an additional six never appeared in a game for the Roadrunners.
This recruiting class serves as a great example of how one bad recruiting class can sink an entire program. Only two players from this recruiting class played for the Roadrunners five years later. Just five of them played for the Roadrunners in the disastrous thee-win 2015 season that led to Larry Coker’s dismissal. It is not at all a stretch to claim that Coker’s recruiting failures in this 2012 class were consequently responsible for his termination in 2016.
While we all enjoy the lead up to National Signing Day, let this recruiting class be a reminder of the fallout that occurs when a staff takes risks on players with academic and behavioral issues. It’s a tough hole to climb out of.