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UTSA Roadrunners 2018 Season Preview: Offense and Special Teams

It’s a youth movement on offense for the Roadrunners, but is that really a bad thing?

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

UTSA’s 2017 offense was predicated on ball control and a slow tempo that sought to keep a defense on the field long enough to exhaust them. While the Roadrunners looked unstoppable on offense against Texas State and Southern early in the year, as the season rolled on the wheels fell off the offense. UTSA averaged a 16.75 percentile performance on offense over their last four games — it would have been hard for the UTSA offense to be any worse down the stretch. At the time of this writing, it’s been 284 days since the Roadrunners have scored a touchdown.

Understandably, UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson decided to move in a new direction. Offensive Coordinator Frank Scelfo was replaced with Al Borges, a veteran gun for hire who won a national championship at Auburn while handling coordinator duties for the Tigers. Borges comes to UTSA from San Jose State where his offense featured run-pass options and a mixture between pro-style sets and spread formations.

In addition to the coaching turnover, UTSA must also replace a lot of seniors that have moved on from the program. Dalton Sturm, a two-year starter at quarterback, is gone to the NFL ranks, while star wide receiver Josh Stewart is expected to sign with the new San Antonio AAF franchise. The Roadrunners also said good bye to four senior starters on the offensive line.

Given the senior losses, UTSA will naturally be a very young program on offense. But given the pitiful performance from last year, is a youth movement really that bad of a thing? Let’s break it down by unit.

Quarterbacks

Projected Depth Chart

Cordale Grundy / DJ Gillins

It’s been a tight race for the starting spot at quarterback this fall. While sophomore Bryce Rivers backed up Dalton Sturm last year, it appears that he’s been surpassed by JUCO transfer Cordale Grundy and graduate transfer DJ Gillins. Did Rivers fall off the wagon or are Grundy and Gillins simply out playing him? We’ll have a better idea after UTSA’s open practice on Saturday.

While I think either Grundy or Gillins could end up the starter, it looks like Grundy is getting the majority of snaps with the first team offense right now. A junior college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma, Grundy enrolled in the spring to get a quick start in the program. Due to an ankle injury, Grundy had limited film from his 2017 season to show coaches. UTSA offered Grundy a scholarship based off the strength of his 2016 season and it looks like the gamble may pay off. A dual-threat quarterback, Grundy was recruited by Kansas State, SMU, and Oregon State out of high school.

If Grundy doesn’t hold on to the job, DJ Gillins should be able to lead the team. A senior graduate transfer, Gillins played in six games as a junior at SMU. Gillins was never healthy enough to compete for starting snaps but every time he was healthy Chad Morris found a way to get him involved on the offense, a testament to Gillins’ athletic ability and ability to pick up offensive schemes quickly.

Looking back at Gillins’ high school film, it’s easy to see why he was a near-consensus four star recruit. With an extremely strong arm and impressive pocket presence, Gillins ended up at Wisconsin to start his college career. After contributing on special teams and at wide receiver, Gillins took the JUCO route to get back under center. A knee injury cut Gillins’ JUCO career short, leading him to SMU. After getting his degree, Gillins gets his fourth shot at playing a full season at quarterback in San Antonio. The potential is there — can he stay healthy?

Running Backs

Projected Depth Chart

Jalen Rhodes / BJ Daniels / Deven Boston

Led by senior Jalen Rhodes, the running back position should be a plus for UTSA this year. Rhodes enters the season ranked third on UTSA’s all-time rushing yards (1,728) and touchdowns (17) list. A sound and healthy season should net Rhodes the 665 yards and three touchdowns he needs to become UTSA’s most productive running back ever.

I thought BJ Daniels would immediately break out as a freshman last year but Daniels only saw 13 carries in 2017. Daniels wowed at UTSA’s spring game and generated generous praise from those around the program throughout fall camp. With Tyrell Clay graduated, it’s time for Daniels to make his presence felt as back up running back before taking the crown from Rhodes in 2019.

JUCO transfer Deven Boston gives UTSA a big-body option on short distance downs, while senior Brett Winnegan and true freshman Brenden Brady will see snaps to provide a change of pace.

Offensive Line

Projected Depth Chart

Treyvion Shannon / Spencer Burford-Watts / Kevin Davis / Josh Oatis / Jalyn Galmore

Dominic Pastucci / David Anzaluda / Bosah Osakwe / Jacob Graner / Josh Dunlop

UTSA’s starting offensive line doesn’t look anything like I predicted it to due to Frank Wilson’s recruiting efforts paying immediate dividends. Thanks to the success of three members of the 2018 recruiting class, the offensive line shake up has been even more extreme than expected.

Dominic Pastucci and Josh Dunlop, two players that I’m still extremely high on, seem to have been edged out at the offensive tackle spots by JUCO transfers Treyvion Shannon and Jalyn Galmore. Both JUCO additions stand at a stout 6’5” and weigh over 305 pounds.

Spencer Burford-Watts, UTSA’s first ever four-star recruit, showed his ability from the first week of camp, earning reps with the first team almost immediately. The true freshman should be a lock for Freshman All-Conference honors. With a chiseled frame and a punishing motor, Burford-Watts looks nothing like a true freshman.

Rounding out the first string is center Kevin Davis and redshirt sophomore Josh Oatis. Davis has faced stiff competition from JUCO transfer Bosah Osakwe so keep an eye out for either of the two to develop as UTSA’s starting center. Oatis took reps at right tackle in the spring but is a more natural fit as a guard.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Texas-San Antonio
Senior Greg Campbell has patiently waited for his opportunity to shine in UTSA’s offense.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Receivers and Tight Ends

Projected Depth Chart

Tykee Ogle-Kellogg / Marquez McNair / Greg Campbell / Gavin Sharp

Tariq Woolen / Sheldon Jones / Blaze Moorhead / TJ King

There isn’t a position on the field that UTSA will be younger in than this one. True freshman Tykee Ogle-Kellogg will start out wide from day one. The 6’4” wide out garnered scholarship offers from P5 programs across the Southeast before missing his senior season due to a behavioral issue. Ogle-Kellogg doubled down on his studies during his time off in order to graduate early and join the UTSA program in the spring. His impressive touchdown catches since then show why he was such a highly-touted recruit after his junior season of high school.

Behind Ogle-Kellogg will be Tariq Woolen, a 6’3” burner that spurned an offer from Baylor to sign with the Roadrunners. A precise route runner with sure hands, Woolen provides a terrific complement to Ogle-Kellogg. This freshman duo is as physically gifted as any in the conference but they’ll have to prove that they can adjust to the collegiate game.

Senior Marquez McNair should hold down the slot position this year as he seeks to bounce back from an underwhelming 2017 season. He’ll receive relief from true freshman Sheldon “Sticks” Jones and Matt Guidry.

Veteran Greg Campbell returns for one last ride out wide. While Campbell has seen playing time in all three of his previous seasons, he’s yet to produce a touchdown for the Roadrunners. That should change pretty quickly this year as Campbell finally moves into a featured role. Campbell will be joined by junior Blaze Moorhead, who saw increasing playing time through each game last season.

The tight end position will feature two new faces. Kind of. TJ King signed with UTSA out of high school and saw early playing time at defensive end. King mysteriously left to a JUCO program for one year before returning to UTSA as a tight end. The junior should be UTSA’s primary passing option at the tight end position and could play a major factor in the offense.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of fall camp has been the emergence of tight end Gavin Sharp. Well built at 6’5”, 245 pounds, Sharp went unnoticed out of high school and joined Blinn Junior College for spring workouts. Sharp caught the eye of UTSA coaches there and transferred to UTSA without losing any eligibility. The true freshman is already UTSA’s best blocking tight end and should be a four year starter.

Special Teams

Projected Depth Chart

Place kicking - Jared Sackett

Punting - Yanni Routsas

Sophomore Jared Sackett returns to the program after a nearly perfect freshman year, earning Freshman All-American honors from USA Today. Sackett finished the 2017 season as a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza award after converting 86% of his field goal attempts.

UTSA is also in great shape at punter with senior Yanni Routsas. A semi-finalist for the Ray Guy award, Routsas has punted for a combined 7,311 yards as a Roadrunner. He’s averaging 40.8 yards per punt and has pinned opponents within the 20 yard line 62 times in his career.