Position breakdown: Quarterbacks
The scoop: Just like last year, three players are competing for TU’s starting quarterback job in Seth Boomer, Zach Smith (above) and Davis Brin, with Boomer, who started the final eight games last season, as the only one who was also in last year’s quarterback battle. The bottom line: Despite Boomer starting for TU last season, Smith will most likely take the first snap Aug. 30 against Michigan State. Smith started 10 games for Baylor before transferring to TU and sitting out last season.
Position breakdown: Running backs
The scoop: Shamari Brooks (above) will start at running back, but Corey Taylor II will also carry a heavy load, as each brings different skillsets to the backfield.
The bottom line: This position will be TU’s strong suit on offense with both Brooks and Taylor on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the best running back in college football.
Position breakdown: Receivers
The scoop: Senior Keenen Johnson (above) and junior Keylon Stokes will be the leaders of the receiving core in 2019. The bottom line: Finding consistency and depth will be the key for a successful season for this group, and that all starts with Johnson and Stokes.
Position breakdown: Offensive line
The scoop: Chris Ivy Jr. (above) and Chris Paul are the only returning starters on the offensive line, with Ivy being the only one that started every game last season.
The bottom line: Lack of experience on the offensive line could be problematic for the Hurricane, but the new faces in this group also mean a lot of unknown for this position, whether it’s good or bad.
Position breakdown: Defensive line
The scoop: Senior Trevis Gipson (above) will lead this group after starting for the first time last season, but he also has veteran help in senior defensive tackle Shemarr Robinson.
The bottom line: With a potentially shaky secondary, a great pass rush from this group will be needed to improve on what was a solid defensive season for the Hurricane last year.
Position breakdown: Secondary
The scoop: Despite having three returning cornerbacks, TU doesn’t have much consistent playing time at the position, as safety Manny Bunch has the most starts in the secondary with 12 last season.
The bottom line: Safeties Bunch and Bryson Powers (above) will have to lead the secondary as the cornerbacks try to find consistency.
Stars: Shamari Brooks
Brooks will be the Hurricane’s lead ball carrier after rushing for 967 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Going into his junior campaign, Brooks has been solid for TU every season, even tallying 10 touchdowns as a freshman.
Stars: Corey Taylor II
Taylor is the second part of TU’s one-two punch at running back. As a more powerful runner than Brooks, Taylor rushed for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Stars: Zaven Collins
Collins was a freshman All-American at linebacker last season. He started the final 10 games of the year, recording double-digit tackles in half of his starts.
Sleepers: Denzel Carter
Carter is hard to overlook as a 6-foot-5, 275-pound tight end. This will be Carter’s first season with the Hurricane after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Sleepers: Manny Bunch
Bunch has been around for awhile as a senior safety, but he’ll become the leader of the secondary this season. He started every game last year after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2017.
Sleepers: Keylon Stokes
Heading into his junior year, Stokes has seen playing time since his freshman season, but his numbers haven’t been overwhelming, catching 41 passes for 575 yards and two touchdowns last season. Not only should Stokes’ stats increase this season, but he’s also a valuable asset used as a return man and ball carrier.
Meet the coaches
Philip Montgomery: Head coach, fifth year Twitter handle: @CoachPMonty Joseph Gillespie: Defensive coordinator/linebackers, fifth year (first as defensive coordinator) Twitter handle: @joe_gillespi3 Jermial Ashley: Defensive line, fifth year Twitter handle: @CoachAshTU Mike B loesch: Offensive line, fifth year Twitter handle: @MikeBloesch Carlton Buckels: Safeties, second year Twitter handle: @CBuck08 Aaron Fletcher: Cornerbacks, fifth year Twitter handle: @TheCoachFletch Justin Hill: Running backs, fifth year Twitter handle: @_CoachJhill Calvin Lowry: Receivers/special teams, fifth year Twitter handle: @CalvinLowry Jordan Najvar: Tight ends, fourth year Twitter handle: N/A Luke Olson: Nickel safeties, eighth year Twitter handle: @CoachLOlson Beau Trahan: Quarterbacks, fourth year Twitter handle: @CoachBeauTrahan Grant Lester: Offensive quality control, seventh year Twitter handle: @CoachGrantTU Craig Suits: Defensive quality control Twitter handle: @Coach_Suits
Note: As a private institution, the University of Tulsa is not obligated to report the compensation figures of its coaches.
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TU coach Philip Montgomery on season opener against Michigan State