Roster Turnover On Steroids
Last Tuesday I wrote a piece (a piece? a post? a story? article?) on the fairly quick roster turnover happening in the program. Zook's third year he started 14 Turner recruits. Beckman's third year he started 11 Zook recruits. Lovie's third year he'll start... 3 Beckman recruits.
Of course, when I wrote the article it said "four Beckman recruits". And then Pat Nelson announced his transfer. In fact, over the week, we learned that eight players were leaving the program. I think I wrote the article a week too soon.
The original Roster Turnover post was more or less a "Part II" itself - I had written my yearly day-after-the-season "next year's depth chart" post the day before, and it was in compiling that list that I realized how quickly the roster was changing. So maybe that's a good starting point here. Go through that original depth chart (I edited it as the first three players transferred, but I'll go back to the original names here to highlight the one walkon and eight scholarship players who are leaving):
QB | Thomas (SO) | George Jr. (JR) | Rivers (FR)
RB | Epstein (SO) | Brown (JR) | Bonner (SO)
FB/BTE | A. Roberts (SR) | Walker (JR-walkon) | McGrew (SR)
TE | Dorsey (SO) | Crouch (SR) | Palmer (rs-SO)
Quick-T | Boyd (SO) | Megginson (JR) | Trainer (SO)
Quick-G | Palczewski (SO) | Martin (JR) | Myers (FR)
Center | Kramer (SO) | Gavin (rs-SO) | Stover (SO-walkon)
Strong-G | Allegretti (SR) | Solomon (JR) | Daniels (FR)
Strong-T | Lowe (SO) | Cerny (rs-SO) | Slaughter (FR)
WR-X | Meadors (SR transfer) | C. Green (SO) | Reams (JR)
WR-Z | Smalling (SO) | Thieman (JR) | Mays (SR)
WR-W | Dudek (SR) | Davis (JR) | Smith (SO)
DEFENSE | | |
WDE | Gay (SO) | Carney (SO) | Pate (rs-FR)
NT | Milan (JR) | Avery (FR) | K. Green (rs-FR)
3DT | Oliver (JR) | Jackson (JR) | Odenigbo (SR)
SDE | Roundtree (SO) | Woods (SO) | Adesanya (SR)
WLB | Hansen (rs-SO) | J. Jones (SR) | Knight (SO)
MLB | Watson (SR) | Harding (JR) | Shogbonyo (SO)
SLB | Phillips (SR) | Abercrombie (SO) | J. Williams (JR)
Nickel | Watkins (JR) | James (SR) | Bobak (SO)
CB | Hobbs (SO) | E. Jones (SO) | Martin (FR)
SS | Nelson (JR) | DeGroot (SO) | Clayton Jr. (SO)
FS | B. Williams (SO) | Green (JR) | Hylton (SR)
CB | Adams (SO) | Sumpter (JR) | Walker (FR)
SPECIALISTS | | |
Kicker | McLaughin (SR) | McCourt (rs-SO) |
Punter | Hayes (SO) | Baringer (rs-FR walkon) |
Long-snapper | Mills (SO) | Tabel (SO) |
Punt Return | Dudek (SR) | Hobbs (SO) | Davis (JR)
KO Return | Brown/Hobbs | C. Green/Davis |
The replacements for the two starters who are leaving seem fairly straightforward. Dele Harding (my guy!), who I believe might have won the job over the incumbent starter (Watson) anyway, becomes the starting middle linebacker and instead of three safeties (Williams, Green, and Nelson) we now have two. Which is completely and totally fine because Stanley Green never misses any snaps for any reason that comes to mind (<~sarcasm).
The rest seem to be departing right along the Lovie/Beckman dividing line. Lovie is starting the 2016 and (especially the) 2017 guys, so the 2014 and 2015 guys are bailing. Beckman's 2015 class in particular is now mostly gone. 24 players enrolled in the summer of 2015 - it's now December 2017 there are 11 players left.
What does this all mean? Another full recruiting class. And this might be a college football first. We have eight seniors, meaning eight spots are opening up for the next class... and we'll bring in 25 players. Which means there are 17 spots opening up from player departures - nine over the last few years (which is why we went into this season with 76 scholarship players instead of the max of 85) and these eight departures this week.
A quick reminder on those nine open spots this past year: Lovie maxed out his backdates in the 2016 class and brought in a full 2017 class (the max is 25, he could backdate one so he brought in 26) which left him with 81 scholarship players for the season (NCAA doesn't allow you to fill beyond 25 from one class, so he couldn't use those final four scholarships). Then Holcombe, Lee, and Watkins were dismissed from the team after their arrests and Nation and McGriff left, dropping the number from 81 to 76.
This means the 2018 class went from eight (seniors graduating) to 17 (open scholarships not used this past season) to 25 (eight players departed this past week). One of those spots will be filled by graduate transfer Shaedon Meadors, which means that the recruiting class will likely be 24 players.
And THAT means that Lovie, entering his third season without the benefit of a first-year recruiting class, on his roster of 85 scholarship players, will have:
- 24 Tim Beckman recruits (Adesanya, Allegretti, Brown, Cerny, Corbin, Crouch, Davis, Dudek, Epstein, Gavin, George Jr, Hylton, Jackson, Martin, McGrew, McLaughlin, Milan, Palmer, Reams, Roberts, Solomon, Thieman, Watkins, J. Williams).
- 12 Bill Cubit recruits (Clayton, S. Green, Hansen, Harding, B. Jones, E. Jones, Kramer, McCourt, Oliver, Shogbonyo, Sumpter, Trainer).
- 49 Lovie recruits (24 in the 2017 class - Epstein was a Beckman recruit and Watkins was kicked off the team - plus the grad transfer Meadors and the 24 players to be signed by February 7th).
If we cross-reference that with next year's depth chart... hold on, let me do some quick math and fill the eight holes highlighted above with the players who will replace the guys transferring out.....
2018 two-deep (22 starters and 22 backups, not including kickers and punters):
- 14 Tim Beckman recruits
- 9 Bill Cubit recruits
- 21 Lovie Smith recruits
Those numbers are really remarkable given that Lovie's recruits are only either true sophomores, redshirt freshmen, and true freshmen. But we've been over that a dozen times in the last few months. I'll only add that there are many Beckman/Cubit recruits on that two-deep who might be replaced by Lovie freshmen come August. For example, my second string offensive line is Trainer-Martin-Gavin-Solomon-Cerny (four Beckman recruits and a Cubit recruit). It's certainly possible that one, two, or even all four of Lovie's incoming 2018 offensive linemen (Myers, Slaughter, Pearl, and Daniels) pass those guys and find themselves on the second string. My point: those numbers could be 8 Beckman, 6 Cubit, and 30 Lovie by the start of the 2018 season.
Which is why I rebooted the "roster turnover" post to write all of this. With these transfers, things seem fairly clear: Zook got to the Rose Bowl playing mostly Turner recruits. Beckman got to the Heart Of Dallas Bowl playing mostly Zook recruits and jucos. Lovie will enter his third season down to maybe 20 inherited players he'll still be using (out of the 55 or so who find the field on Saturdays).
Why so many transfers? Because Lovie is taking the youngest team in college football and... somehow making it younger. This is not a rebuild - it's a complete and total reboot.
Here's hoping he knows what he's doing.