After an offseason of much uncertainty, there will be UTSA football this fall. The season brings myriad questions as new head football coach Jeff Traylor attempts to revitalize a football program that slumped in the final years of the Frank Wilson era. Traylor takes over a team that finished 4-8 overall and 3-5 in Conference USA (C-USA) play last year and aims to reclaim the positive trajectory UTSA appeared to be on during the start of Wilson’s tenure.
Traylor will certainly have options to pick from to lead his offense, as all three quarterbacks who saw significant game action last year — Frank Harris, Lowell Narcisse and Jordan Weeks — will return.
Harris, the starting quarterback early last year, played well in spots before ultimately being lost for the year with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder against North Texas. Narcisse assumed Harris’ role and produced mixed returns. Narcisse progressed well as a passer throughout the year; however, he found success running the football, totaling nearly 600 yards on the ground during the 2019 season and lending an element of danger to the Roadrunner offense. Nevertheless, Narcisse was relieved against Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the penultimate game of the season, and the keys to the offense were handed over to redshirt freshman Weeks. Weeks managed to spark some life into the offense late in that loss and was given the opportunity to start the final game of the regular season against Louisiana Tech.
A big X-factor in the quarterback competition, however, has arrived in the form of graduate transfer quarterback Josh Adkins. Adkins, who formerly attended New Mexico State (NMST), started all 12 games for the Aggies last season, leading them to a 2-10 record and throwing for 2,588 yards, 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Adkins is the first quarterback brought to UTSA by Coach Traylor and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Traylor has yet to confirm who his starting quarterback will be for the opener, so the question remains whether he will pick one of the established ‘Runners to man the controls or side with the transfer he brought in. Given the results of the end of last year and Weeks’ relative youth, Weeks would appear to have the inside track to the starting job.
Traylor formerly served as the running back coach at the University of Arkansas and will have plenty of weapons to play with at the position. The ‘Runners will return their four leading rushers from last season. The group is led by reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year Sincere McCormick. McCormick burst onto the scene last year for the ‘Runners as a true freshman, finishing with 983 yards rushing on the year while breaking the UTSA all-purpose yardage record with 1,177 yards. In addition, McCormick set the UTSA single game rushing record with a 189-yard performance in a close win over the University of Texas at El Paso. In addition, junior running back Brenden Brady will return to back up McCormick. Brady rushed for 284 yards and two touchdowns in limited game action last year.
The ‘Runner receiving corps is returning the second, third and fourth leading receivers on the team last year. With the departure of tight end Carlos Strickland II, returning receivers Sheldon Jones and Zahari Franklin will be looked at to step up and help improve the receiving corps. Two players expected to contribute right out of the box are incoming freshman receiver Isaiah Davis and junior college transfer Gregory Clayton Davis Jr., the younger brother of redshirt junior offensive lineman Kevin Davis. Davis is one of the bigger signings of Coach Traylor’s inaugural recruiting class.
On the defensive side of the ball, Traylor will have to improve a unit that ranked 112 in the nation last season in points allowed per game with 33.9. The ‘Runners’ two leading tacklers from last season, Andrew Martel and Carl Austin III, graduated at the end of last season, so it will be up to returning redshirt junior Trevor Harmanson and 2019 C-USA All-Freshman Team selection Rashad Wisdom, ranked third and fourth on the team in tackles, respectively, to anchor the defense.
In the secondary, there are a number of question marks, as four of the seven defensive backs are either true or redshirt freshmen. Returning junior defensive back Corey Mayfield Jr. will look to steady this young corps. Anticipated to provide an impact in the secondary is incoming redshirt sophomore transfer JayVeon Cardwell. Cardwell transferred from Oklahoma State, where he appeared in one game as a true freshman in 2018. The linebacking corps is returning full of experience. 2019 sack leader DeQuarius Henry is back in the lineup, as is Clarence Hicks, who finished second on the team in tackles for loss last year. Last season’s tackles for loss leader Jaylon Haynes will also return to anchor the defensive line. Henry, Hicks and Haynes are all seniors this coming season and will try to close out their college careers on a high note.
The ‘Runners currently have 10 games scheduled for the 2020 season, which is already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A planned opener against reigning national champion Louisiana State University in Death Valley on Sept. 5 was canceled.
The ‘Runners’ season will now kick off on Sept. 12 with the next installment of the I-35 rivalry against Texas State in San Marcos. The ‘Runners will then play their home opener against Football Championship Subdivision school Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 19.