The top 10 Texas State football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. QB Tyler Jones, Sr.
Is Jones one of the best passing quarterbacks in the Sun Belt? Not really. Is he an elite runner? He’s good enough. But mostly, he’s a baller who knows exactly what he’s doing as one of the few returning players who can help in the transition in the new era. The veteran connected on 58% of his passes for 2,517 yards and 14 touchdowns with ten picks, throwing for over 300 yards against Southern Miss and Idaho. He also ran for 583 yards and ten scores, taking off for 160 yards and two touchdowns against USM, but now he’ll have to carry even more of the load. At 6-2 and 205 pounds he has decent size, can push the ball down the field, and can move.
2. CB/PR Brandon McDowell, Jr.
A fast, talented corner who can hit, McDowell didn’t pick off any passes, but he made 44 tackles with six broken up passes. McDowell was a steady tackler throughout the year, doing a nice job in the open field when he had to make a play. As solid as he was as a defensive back, he was even better as a punt returner, using his elite quickness to average over 13 yards per try, including a touchdown against Prairie View A&M. At 5-10 and 183 pounds he has enough size to be physical, and he should be more of a lockdown defender now that he knows his role.
3. OT Ryan Melton, Sr.
The all-star on the line that gets just three starters back, the 6-5, 325-pound right tackle might need to move around a bit to find the right spot. He fit the old look and feel of the offense, doing a great job in pass protection while able to get his big body on the move. A good all-around athlete and a strong get for the program, he’s one of the league’s best blockers and should be a sure-thing All-Sun Belt blocker again.
4. S Damani Alexcee, Sr.
The team’s leading tackler, Alexcee made 79 tackles with three broken up passes with two sacks. A sure-thing open-field hitter, he came up with 22 stops over two games against Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama, while making 12 stops against New Mexico State. At 6-2 and 192 pounds, he has nice size and great range, working more like an extra linebacker than a ball-hawking defensive back. A Rover last season, he’ll fill the same row.
5. RB Tyler Siudzinski, Sr.
Can he really be the back to take over the workload to replace Robert Lowe? Siudzinski’s a former JUCO transfer from California with 5-10, 185-pound size and the quickness to do big things when he gets his chance. He wasn’t used much for most of the season – with just 13 carries in the first nine games, but he showed what he could do with 170 yards – highlighted by a 62-yard dash – against Idaho, and finished with 290 yards and a score on the season.
6. QB Eddie Printz, Jr.
After graduating early from Missouri, Printz was able to transfer without losing any eligibility. The 6-3, 205-pounder spent the last few years as a key backup, but now he’s a huge get for the Bobcats with his pro-style passing ability and the skills to at least push hard for time. Very smart and with the upside to be a different type of Texas State quarterback, he’s a great option.
7. DE Karee Berry, Jr.
The 6-3, 255-pound end has the skills, and he’s got the experience, but the production as to follow. Good at generating a little bit of pressure, he was one of the few linemen who could get to the quarterback last season with three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss to go along with 39 tackles. While he’s undersized, he’s good off the edge.
8. DT Dallas McClarty, Sr.
The man in the middle, McClarty is built to be an anchor on the nose with 5-11, 275-pound size and just enough quickness to not be a block. He’s not huge and has a hard time holding up – he missed two games last year – but he still came up with 29 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss.
9. P/PK Lumi Kaba, Sr.
Part placekicker, all punter, Kaba came up with a huge season averaging over 44 yards per kick, putting 20 inside the 20, and hit 10-of-18 field goal tries. The former JUCO transfer has a big leg and can blast away from deep, but he’s a better punter than a kicker – he’ll be used a lot this year.
10. S Javante O’Roy, Sr.
A hybrid defender even at his 6-0, 180-pound size, the former JUCO transfer got in a little bit of work making 23 tackles with a forced fumble. He’s got the speed, he’s got the special teams skills, and he’s got the ability to be a key part of the defensive backfield. At least that’s the hope for a depleted defense.