Weeks of practice finally culminated to the annual spring game last Saturday at H.A. Chapman stadium. Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the Golden Hurricane stormed the field with optimism, confidence, and a bit of uncertainty. Last season it seemed the question surrounding Tulsa football was “What is this team’s ceiling?” After the notable improvement in 2015, expectations were sky-high for Monty’s 2016 squad, and boy they lived up to the hype.
For the 2017 squad, it seems the question is “What is this team’s floor?” There are certainly proven commodities on this year’s team (Brubaker, Brewer, the offensive line), but TU lost captains on both offense and defense, the leading passer in school history, a 1,000 yard rusher, and two 1,000 yard receivers. That is a lot to replace, and with a tough non-conference slate against 4 teams that went to bowl games last season, Tulsa will have to find answers to those questions early.
Of course, the spring game is not the time to answer those questions. All the spring game does is provide us fans with fodder to ramble about during the summer. With that said, here are 5 players that stood out in Saturday’s game. *Note*: This is not the “5 players who played the best” as that distinction would go to Brubaker, Brewer, Chandler Miller, Craig Suits, etc. This is about 5 players that were under the radar coming into the game, and stood out to the point that I’ll be hyping them up all off-season.
RB Ramadi Warren – RS-Junior
Full disclosure, I had pretty much forgotten about the speedster from Memphis going into Saturday. Coming into last season, it looked like Warren was going to be the compliment back to Brewer, until it was announced in mid-August that he would be suspended all of the 2016 season for academic reasons. James Flanders ended up filling in, while Warren spent the whole season running for the scout team. Kelly Hines and the Tulsa World have a good story about why he decided not to transfer. Warren still has work ahead of him, but if he can become eligible he will be a major asset in his junior season for the Golden Hurricane. Remember, this guy was a 3-star recruit; he averaged 6.7 yards/carry and had 6 touchdowns in his redshirt freshman season for TU. Warren showed that he still has the game on Saturday, as he had 69 yards on 11 carries including a 13 yard TD run. Warren is quick, and will drive defenses crazy with his elusiveness. Even if Brewer doesn’t add “15 pounds of muscle” this offseason, Warren will be the perfect compliment, assuming he can regain eligibility.
Also, I want to point out that ALL of the RBs looked great. Javon Thomas is a load to tackle, Rowdy Simon showed some shiftyness, and Corey Taylor knows how to move the ball forward every time he touches it. Credit to the offensive line of course, but we’ll have some talented guys carrying the rock in 2017.
LB Robert Revels – Sophomore
The 2017 team will have to replace two starting linebackers, Trent Martin and Matt Linscott, and the first linebacker off the bench Micheal Thomas. Stud sophomore Cooper Edmiston showed last year that he is worthy of a starting role, but on Saturday Revels made his case to be the third starter alongside Suits and Cooper. Revels tallied 6 tackles for the first team defense on Saturday, and also made an athletic interception, picking off a pass from Will Hefley. Revels was one of the best recruits in Monty’s 2016 recruiting class, and he made an impact immediately on special teams last season.
I knew my time was coming I just had to wait for it ! pic.twitter.com/I2loHuhSxL
— Robert Revels III (@robisrob_) October 31, 2016
Revels has continued to get stronger, and I think the potential for this guy is sky-high in 2017.
S Manny Bunch – Sophomore
Despite being a member of the 2016 recruiting class, this was actually Manny’s second spring game. Bunch graduated early from Roland High School, and was a spring 16′ enrollee at Tulsa. This Saturday Manny lead the entire team in tackles with 10.5, and showed the ability to cover a lot of field from his safety position. Bunch played sparingly in 2016, but after the graduation of Jeremy Brady it looks like Bunch and Christian Williams (more on him later) will be battling to play alongside Jordan Mitchell and McKinley Whitfield at the safety position.
S Christian Williams – RS-Sophomore
I had a class with Williams last year, and admittedly that causes me to go out of my way to watch him. Still though, I think Christian is worth being mentioned: he tallied 7 tackles on Saturday afternoon from the safety position. After redshirting in 2015, the Dallas native played intermittently for the Golden Hurricane last season, and saw meaningful playing time when McKinley Whitfield and Jeremy Brady suffered injuries. Williams isn’t a big player, only 6 feet tall, but he has supreme quickness and is not afraid to get physical. As mentioned, I see him and Bunch rotating in pretty frequently in the secondary next season, it will be interesting to see which player makes the most progress this summer.
WR Bishop Louie – Senior
It was a windy day on Saturday, which hindered most of the deep passing game. A lot of the completed passes were dinks and dunks. That being said, Louie collected 4 catches for 78 yards, most of which came on a 59 yard touchdown from Luke Skipper. Louie had more yards and receptions on Saturday than he had in all of 2016 and 2015.
Louie is an interesting player, he looked like a poor man’s Percy Harvin his freshman year in 2014; hauling in 23 receptions for 274 yards, and running it 7 times for 100 yards and a touchdown.
However, Coach Monty’s offense and the emergence of Keevan Lucas as the slot receiver gave rise to Louie playing sparingly, only catching 2 balls in 2015, and 3 in 2016. Now, with Lucas gone, will Louie fill in as the elusive slot receiver that our offense needs? Coming into Saturday I was looking towards Jarion Anderson, Keenen Johnson, and Brodrick Umblance playing that role, but Bishop showed on Saturday that he is ready to step up in 2017.
I didn’t mention the QBs in this article because of two reasons. 1: I don’t think any of them separated themselves, therefore they didn’t “stand out.” 2: I am planning on doing an article on the QB battle
this week eventually. (18 hours is no joke y’all).
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