Some quick highlights:
Young defense. Seven of the 11 listed starters on defense are sophomores or younger. Only one, linebacker Kenny Cain, is a senior, and true freshman Devonte Fields is listed at right defensive end, playing opposite of junior Stansly Maponga. True freshmen Derrick Kindred (safety) and Deante’ Gray (cornerback) are listed as backups at their positions.
Graves back. Sophomore Antonio Graves’ status with the team coming into the season had been uncertain due to academic issues, but Graves is listed as Paul Dawson’s backup at middle linebacker. This is big for a few reasons. The noticeable absences of would-be starter Tanner Brock and essentially his replacement, Deryck Gildon, had thinned out the linebacker corps. Graves, even in a backup role (for now), adds some much-needed depth. And, Graves has played in the secondary and on special teams. He’s physical, athletic and, overall, just a solid guy to have on a defense where hardly any job is completely locked down yet.
Freshmen anchoring right side of line. True freshmen Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai were the only two offensive right tackles on the chart. Collins was listed as the starter. Both guys are 6-foot-6, three-star recruits out of high school– Collins from Houston, Vaitai from Haltom City. An interesting note on Collins: His brother, Lavon, runs track for the Frogs, and his father, Bill, a TCU Hall of Fame member, was a three-time Southwest Conference champion in track and field in the 70s.
Fuller listed as starter at tight end. Not too big of a surprise to see senior Cory Fuller as the starting tight end. Behind him, though, the outlook might be a bit different than expected at the end of last season. Stephen Bryant, who likely would have been the backup, is out for a season after suffering an injury earlier this month. Now, true freshman Griffin Gilbert is listed second, and Cliff Murphy, who played defense in 2011, is third.
Newcomers hold kicking jobs. Jaden Oberkrom is listed as the starting placekicker while Ethan Perry is the starting punter. Both are true freshmen. Oberkrom will also handle kickoff duties, according to the chart. As for Perry, he’s no Anson Kelton, but he’s a sizeable 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. Always good to have a punter who can double as a defensive end.
Tucker, James sharing starting duties at running back. Senior Matthew Tucker and junior Waymon James are both listed as starting running backs, similar to the situation last season when James, Tucker and Ed Wesley, who left the team in May, essentially shared the starting job.
Brown now a backup receiver. Former quarterback Matt Brown, who moved last week to wide receiver, is listed as Skye Dawson’s backup at the position. It’ll be interesting to see how much (or if) the Frogs use Brown at the position. Don’t be surprised if they do. Brown is quick – he proved to be a goal line scoring threat on the ground at times last year – and he’s physical – he holds several of the school’s quarterback weightlifting records. Brown will also hold on field goals and extra points, according to the chart.