One of the most telling signs of a healthy football program is whether or not the program is forced to toss its young players into the fire of Division I football before the student athlete is fully prepared to play to their potential. The redshirt is an extremely valuable tool afforded to athletes and coaches. The maturation, both physical and mental, between a true freshman and fifth-year senior is monumental. Redshirt years allow programs to maintain balanced scholarship distribution between annual recruiting class sizes as well as depth chart rankings within position units.
The following five players are the Roadrunners that would gain the most from utilizing their redshirt year in 2017. That’s not to say they’re not talented enough to contribute this season, in fact their inclusion on this list indicates the exact opposite; these athletes have too much potential to have a year of their eligibility squandered away by limited snaps in their first year on campus.
Frank Harris - Quarterback
Perhaps the most naturally-gifted athlete in UTSA’s freshman class, Harris has the raw potential to be UTSA’s top quarterback in program history. A twitchy runner in open space with a big arm to match, Harris can turn a slight defensive mistake into a quick touchdown. While Harris hauled in scholarship offers from programs like Baylor, Georgia Tech, and UCF during his high school career, a serious knee injury put an early halt to his senior season and slowed his recruiting process down. Harris is cleared for football activity now but he should be afforded ample time to fully nurse his leg back to full strength.
With UTSA in solid shape at quarterback under Dalton Sturm the Roadrunners shouldn’t need much help from the rest of the signal callers on the roster in 2017. Additionally, a redshirt year for Harris would help shape up the Roadrunners’ forecast at the quarterback position as fellow true freshman Bryce Rivers is expected to burn his redshirt year to back up Sturm. A redshirt for Harris staggers the two promising young quarterbacks’ eligibility and gives the Clemens High product an opportunity to increase his playing weight before facing 300 pound defensive linemen at the collegiate level.
Chance McLeod - Tight End
A sophomore All-American selection, McLeod is an elite pass catcher at the tight end position. Since McLeod’s high school mostly ran their offense out of spread and air raid sets, McLeod didn’t get much experience with inline blocking until his senior season. This wouldn’t be much of an issue for most collegiate offenses however UTSA’s pro-style offense demands a two-dimensional end that can seal the edge off in the run game as well as bring down the tough catches in the middle of the field to keep the chains moving. McLeod is the future of the tight end position for UTSA but a year in the weight room and cafeteria will do wonders to inflate his 6’3”, 225 pound frame. Once McLeod has the size and strength to bully defensive ends at the line of scrimmage he should become one of the top tight ends in the league.
Javontavious Mosley - Cornerback
Coming out of a crowded cornerback group in UTSA’s 2017 recruiting class, Mosley might be the most underrated recruit UTSA signed last year. With a far-reaching wingspan and an acute nose for the football, Mosley comes to UTSA from John Tyler High School, a program that has pumped gritty defenders into San Antonio since the Roadrunners’ very first recruiting class. While I’m really high on Mosley’s ability to become a starting cornerback in the future I think a year off the field would behoove him as seniors Austin Jupe and Devron Davis shutdown the opposition in 2017. Mosley has the frame to jump from 165 pounds to 190 by kickoff of what would be his redshirt freshman season in 2018. If he keeps his speed at that size then he’ll truly be a menace to Conference USA wide outs.
Dominic Pastucci - Offensive Line
I’m unsure whether Pastucci’s future at UTSA’s will reside at offensive tackle or offensive guard but I am certain that he has what it takes to develop into a starting offensive lineman at the C-USA level. An accomplished powerlifter, Pastucci has the raw strength to grow into a forceful run blockers on the inside. He also has the arm length to keep pass rushers at bay on the edge. Having a season away from the field will help his body develop in one direction or the other, whether it be towards the build of a guard or an offensive tackle.
Bosah Osakwe - Offensive Guard
Osakwe signed to join UTSA’s program just a day before fall camp started. I haven’t heard any reports of how he’s fared so far but it’s easy to imagine Osakwe feeling overwhelmed after his tumultuous last month. Standing at a menacing 6’4”, 310 pounds, Osakwe is already huge as a sophomore and he’s yet to use his redshirt year. Given his size and the technical prowess he shows on film I’m sure Osakwe could contribute along the interior this season if requested but utilizing his redshirt year to learn the playbook could make him a three year starter once Kyle McKinney, Stefan Beard, and Austin Pratt all graduate at the end of this season.