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Five players who could show the most improvement for UTSA in 2017

Which Roadrunners are primed for breakout seasons?

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

With the advent of a new season, players across the nation will have a renewed opportunity to realize their potential and put their name on the map. UTSA will be no exception as the program continues to remodel its structure in year two of Head Coach Frank Wilson’s tenure in San Antonio.

The following players have all had various levels of experience at UTSA so far but all five will have the opportunity to blossom into a major contributor for the Roadrunners this fall.

Darryl Godfrey - “Ram” Strong Safety

One of the most highly-rated prospects in UTSA’s 2015 class, Godfrey chose to sign with the hometown Roadrunners despite late official visits to Arizona State and Texas Tech.

A plus athlete at 6’1”, 195 pounds, Godfrey was expected to play notable snaps as soon as he stepped on campus. While Godfrey has played in 22 games so far in his career, the 2017 season poses his first opportunity to play starting snaps at UTSA. Reports out of camp have Godfrey looking very comfortable on the field and growing into a leader on the defense. If Godfrey plays to his potential then the Roadrunners will be in terrific shape in the secondary.

Reed Darragh - Offensive Tackle

Few players have had a more adventurous career at UTSA than Darragh. Originally a tight end, Darragh moved to the interior as a high school junior. Darragh stepped into a special teams role during his freshman season before starting all 12 games in his sophomore season. Despite grading out at 93% in his sophomore season, Darragh was relegated to the bench in eight out of 12 games in his junior season.

While Darragh’s career has been full of ups and downs, he’s never been one to put himself ahead of the interest of the team which makes him an easy guy to root him. After playing arguably his best game ever in a spot start in the New Mexico Bowl, Darragh may be able to put it all together in his last season in orange and blue. If nothing else he should be a great utility lineman for UTSA in his senior campaign.

Halen Steward - Fullback

In all honesty UTSA might have won another game or two in 2016 had Steward remained healthy enough to play in more than just the season opener against Alabama State. Purebred fullbacks are as rare as a flake of gold these days and UTSA’s offense is designed to fully utilize Steward’s skill set to punishing effect.

Standing at 5’11”, 260 pounds, Steward is a freight train of a blocker with feet nimble enough to pick up good yardage when given the space. Per UTSA Offensive Coordinator Frank Seclfo, “when [Stewart] locks on he has a chance to really make a dent in the defense.” If Steward is able to generate sizable push in lead blocking duties then it will turn five yard gains into touchdowns for the Roadrunners’ running backs. And don’t sleep on Steward’s ability to generate offense with the ball in his hands. He’s already caught passes out of the backfield for UTSA and was reportedly tearing up UTSA’s defense as a ball carrier in a recent scrimmage.

Marquez McNair - Wide Receiver

There probably isn’t a player on UTSA’s roster that’s accelerated my hair loss quite like Marquez McNair has. Not because he’s a bad player but rather because he’s quite gifted and could be the top slot receiver in this league. McNair has all the tools — he’s rangy, incredibly quick, and able to generate separation coming out of his cuts. Where McNair fell short in his junior campaign was all strictly mental: offensive pass interference calls, uncontested drop passes, offsides calls, etc.

A fresh start in 2017 gives McNair an opportunity to refocus and master the mental aspect of the game that has held him back so far. If he’s able to apply his talent then Dalton Sturm will gain a deadly target and UTSA might utilize more spread offensive sets than previously anticipated.

Shaq Williams - Tight End

Similar to McNair, Williams is a very gifted athlete that has struggled often with the simple things in his junior campaign. UTSA fans will likely recall Williams’ dropped touchdown catch in the New Mexico Bowl which very well could have turned the final result in UTSA’s favor had Williams guided the wind-drifted ball into his chest and walked into the end zone. Despite the painful drop, Williams did prove himself to be a receiving threat early last season as he totaled 13 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns as a junior.

UTSA will likely ask him to do more as a pass catcher in 2017 but the real challenge facing Williams is his ability to command the edge as an inline tight end and to fight off defenders out of the backfield as an H back. Williams struggled with both roles in 2016. After shedding some stomach flab, Williams has grown to 6’4”, 255 pounds, a rare growth spurt for a senior. If Williams is able to successfully convert himself into a multi-tool player UTSA’s offense should sprout in some really positive, creative directions.