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Really good football write-up in The Athletic
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BlazerMatt Offline
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Really good football write-up in The Athletic
Extremely thorough and well written.
https://theathletic.com/996655/2019/06/0...pth-chart/



[Image: UAB_SOTP_2019_Returning_Production.png]
(This post was last modified: 06-01-2019 09:33 AM by BlazerMatt.)
06-01-2019 09:32 AM
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RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
(06-01-2019 09:32 AM)BlazerMatt Wrote:  Extremely thorough and well written.
https://theathletic.com/996655/2019/06/0...pth-chart/



[Image: UAB_SOTP_2019_Returning_Production.png]

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06-01-2019 10:13 AM
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BlazerMatt Offline
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RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
Sign up for the seven day free trial. The Athletic is the spiritual successor to what the Sporting News used to be back in the day and is worth $4 a month though.
06-01-2019 10:24 AM
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RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
State of the Program: After an unprecedented rebuild, UAB turns attention to sustaining success

So this is what the mountaintop is like.

During a visit to UAB’s practice facility, head coach Bill Clark is quick to point to where the Blazers used to practice on a muddy, slanted field. In the years since the program’s self-imposed shutdown in December 2014 and reinstatement months later, a state-of-the-art operations building was constructed. The tiny old building remains at the back end of a practice field, filled with dust and folding chairs. An artificial turf field under a gazebo is the new standard after tens of millions of dollars were raised, with more to come.

Going 8-5 in the program’s first season back in 2017 was a Cinderella story. In 2018, Cinderella took off that slipper en route to the program’s first Conference USA championship and an 11-3 season.

The practice facilities are top-notch. A new stadium is on the way, set to open in 2021. Clark received an extension through 2024 with a salary raise to $1.45 million, the highest in the conference.

UAB has new infrastructure in place, a championship in the trophy case and a bright future. Now, with the loss of more than 30 seniors, including numerous starters on both sides of the ball, this is where you’d normally say things get tough. But we’ve seen Clark and UAB make it through worse.

“It’s what we hoped it would be. This is what we worked for,” Clark said. “Obviously, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It went even better than we could have hoped for. Now it’s time to take advantage of it and hopefully we continue with recruiting, great attendance, and our goal the whole time was to be a national team, be in the conversation. This will be a big year to continue the momentum.”

The Blazers have a proven quarterback and running back. To repeat in 2019, they’ll need to find new receivers, fill holes in the trenches and rebuild a stingy defense, aided by some position changes.

“There’s a lot of excitement in our community, excitement in the team,” Clark said. “Having been on championship teams before, it’s always, what do you do next? The positive is these guys have been part of winning and know what it looks like. The backups, it’s their turn now, so we’ll see what they do with it.”

Biggest on-field question
UAB’s success in 2018 was largely because of its tenacious defense, which finished No. 7 nationally in scoring (17 points per game), No. 14 in yards per rush allowed (3.44), No. 26 in passing yards per attempt (6.4) and No. 5 in sacks per game (3.43). From Week 5 to Week 10, the Blazers allowed 38 total points over six games. They allowed just 12.6 points per game in Conference USA play.

Given that UAB had to create a roster from scratch, it pulled from everywhere. All 11 starters last season arrived at UAB as transfers from the junior college ranks or another four-year school. As a result, a lot of those veterans are gone. The Blazers must replace two of three starters on the defensive line, three of four starters at linebacker and three of four starters in the defensive backfield.


Bill Clark has a 25-14 record in three seasons at UAB.
In recent years, UAB has turned back to high school recruiting to help balance out the roster. Clark said this year’s team will have only 13 scholarship seniors. Youth will have to fill in the holes and lead the way.

“What does this group do now that it’s them?” he said. “You’ve had these other guys. These guys have to step up, others coming in the summer, if this group can continue this momentum, there’s a lot of exciting times because a lot are back the next year. That’s the question, what this group’s going to do.”

This UAB team might need to lean more on its offense, especially early on, but questions remain there, too.

Depth chart analysis
Quarterbacks: Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent can’t stop gushing about sophomore Tyler Johnston III, who took over for an injured A.J. Erdely in November. Johnston threw for 306 yards at Texas A&M and had his best performance in the Boca Raton Bowl, passing for 373 yards and four touchdowns in a win against Northern Illinois. He needs to take better care of the ball (nine interceptions), but his average of 9.5 yards per attempt would have ranked No. 5 nationally if he qualified with enough attempts. He is clearly a quarterback UAB can build around.

“He’s different, man,” Vincent said. “I’ve coached a lot of them. He’s different. It’s hard to explain. They made up the word ‘intangibles’ because of this kid and guys like (Tim) Tebow. He’s a winner.”

Johnston went 35-0 as a starter at Spanish Fort High School in Alabama and won two state championships. At UAB last year, he started the division-clinching win against Southern Miss, the Conference USA championship game win against Middle Tennessee and the bowl win. Coaches say he’s already stepped up as a leader in the offseason.

“The guy knows how to win,” Clark said. “He played so well for us and picked up where he left off after the bowl game. Had a really good spring. He’s been a great leader, and we expect a great summer because of guys like him.”

Behind Johnston, redshirt freshman Dylan Hopkins is the backup. Coaches are also high on true freshman Bryson Lucero, who arrived from IMG Academy.

Running backs: This will be the strength of the offense, with 1,200-yard rusher Spencer Brown back as a junior after being named first-team All-C-USA. The 220-pound Brown battled a foot injury much of 2018 and was held out of spring after surgery. Coaches say he was only 80 percent last year, but he’ll be 100 percent come fall. He has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of his first two seasons.

Brown’s backups also return in sophomore Lucious Stanley (274 yards) and Jarrion Street (275 yards), though Street has moved to defense. Johnston ranked second on the team in rushing (359 yards). Vincent also likes senior Jonathan Haden, the brother of NFL player Joe Haden and a former Arizona player who was a slot receiver for UAB but missed all of 2018 with an injury. The 5-foot-7, 174-pound speedster will be a good change of pace. Arkansas State transfer Larry Wooden is also eligible after sitting out last season.


Spencer Brown has 2,556 rushing yards in two seasons.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The Blazers lost their top four receivers, who combined for 123 catches and 2,285 yards. Senior Kendall Parham had 14 catches last season, and junior Austin Watkins began last season as a starter before an injury. The 6-3, 200-pound Watkins had three catches for 109 yards and a 35-yard touchdown in UAB’s spring game.

“Look for him to be the alpha of that group,” Vincent said of Watkins. “He started the first four games last year. He was good enough to beat out those other guys.”

On May 31, UAB added RaJae Johnson, the No. 1 JUCO wide receiver in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite. Other names to watch include junior Myron Mitchell, a former Texas Tech commit out of junior college who impressed on the scout team, and Markus Grossman, coming in from Fullerton College. Senior Sederian Copeland has battled injuries the past two years but is expected to contribute.

At tight end, junior Hayden Pittman returns after an eight-catch season, and Clark thinks he has a chance to be an all-conference player. Senior Garrett Prince will back him up.

Offensive line: This is the prime area of concern on offense, with four starters lost to graduation, three of whom earned all-conference honors. The lone returning regular starter is center Lee Dufour. But Dufour missed some time due to injury, which led to six starts between Greg Fecanin and Andrew Smith, who still preserved a redshirt and can play guard. Now a junior, Fecanin is expected to move to guard.

At left tackle, Vincent expects junior Colby Ragland, a former junior college starter who redshirted last year, to take the job. Sophomore Patrick Nuss is a strong candidate for right tackle after playing in all 14 games as a freshman. Senior David Galten is the favorite to start at left guard.

Other names to watch at tackle include junior Carter Wood and incoming junior college transfer Jakoby Jones. Smith got playing time at center last year but was able to redshirt. He could contribute at center and guard. Incoming junior college guards Matthew Trehern and Sidney Wells and returning sophomore Zack Aylor are also in the mix. Vincent is well aware of the challenges up front.

“You’ve got to get your front five jelling,” he said. “We lost four of the five. We’ve gotta get the best five on the same page. Spring was a lot better than what I thought it was going to be.”

Defensive line: Perhaps the strongest unit on the team in 2018, the defensive line must replace two all-conference players in Jamell Garcia-Williams and Anthony Rush. On the three-man line, the lone returner is defensive tackle Garrett Marino, a senior who had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Clark says Marino has a chance to be an all-conference player after earning honorable mention last year.

At nose tackle, 320-pound redshirt freshman Fish McWilliams is expected to fill the role, but 355-pound junior college transfer Tony Fair will also get time there. At the other defensive tackle spot, sophomore Antonio Moultrie and junior Mi’Cario Stanley are candidates to slide in. Depth is a question on the line, but coaches are optimistic they’ll find the right people.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys,” Clark said. “It’ll be a big rotation.”

Linebackers: Gone are Chris Woolbright and Tre’ Crawford, who combined for 26 TFLs a year ago. The only returning starter is on the inside with senior Fitzgerald Mofor, who finished second on the team with 75 tackles, including 7.5 TFLs.

But Mofor will be joined by an experienced defender in Kristopher Moll, who had 54 tackles and 7.5 TFLs in a hybrid STAR position and has moved to inside linebacker. Other names to watch include sophomore Kobe Griffin and junior Luke Brasher.

On the outside, there isn’t a ton of FBS game experience. Junior Thomas Johnston (brother of QB Tyler) has moved from the inside and could start. He had 17 tackles a year ago. Senior Adrienne Talan has also moved from inside to outside. Redshirt freshman Jalen Rayam had a sack in limited time before redshirting last season.


UAB allowed 13 or fewer points seven times last season.

Defensive backs: The secondary is the most experienced group on defense, but that’s relative. Both safeties must be replaced after the graduation of Broderick Thomas and Mar’Sean Diggs, who combined for 128 tackles. In their place, senior Will Dawkins fills in with plenty of past starting experience. Former Ole Miss transfer Jarrion Street is a candidate for safety or the STAR hybrid position after playing running back for UAB last year. Junior Trey Whitmore also moved to safety from running back. Other names to watch include junior Dy’jonn Turner, sophomore Grayson Cash and redshirt freshman Jaylen Key.

“I’m really excited about that group of safeties and STARs,” Clark said.

Junior Brontae Harris returns at one cornerback spot. “I don’t know if he was all-conference last year, but he should have been,” Clark said. Harris had two interceptions and 35 tackles a year ago, earning honorable mention C-USA honors. Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-10 corner nationally. Sophomore Starling Thomas V could start at the other spot after playing as a true freshman. Clark also mentioned sophomore CD Daniels.

Special teams: Once again, returning experience is relative. Kicker Nick Vogel returns as a senior, but he was only 15-for-24 on field goals last season and 13-for-17 the year before. Punter Kyle Greenwell averaged 40 yards per punt as a true freshman, which was No. 83 nationally, though eight went for at least 50 yards. Around half were fair-caught.

The Blazers need a new holder to replace Clark’s son, Jacob Clark, as well as returners following the graduation of Andre Wilson.

How the Blazers have recruited from 2016-2019
Using 247Sports’ Composite rankings, here is how UAB’s recruiting classes have fared nationally and within Conference USA over the past four years:

[Image: UAB_SOTP_2019_Recruiting-1-1024x249.png]

Rebuilding a roster from scratch put UAB in a unique situation when recruiting. UAB’s 2016 class ranked No. 71 nationally and No. 2 in Conference USA, but it included almost 50 players after the school was granted waivers on class size. The 2017 class had 31 players, while the past two have had 23.

There was also a huge emphasis on junior college players early, because a roster entirely made of freshmen would have been disastrous. That huge 2016 class featured 40 junior college players, but things are leveling out now. The 2017 class had 16 junior college players. That dropped to eight in 2018 and seven in 2019.

“We’ve slowly moved toward high school more and more, and now it’s a huge part,” Clark said. “Having facilities, having name recognition, everybody knows who we are. The new stadium is starting construction soon. It’s totally different.

“We’ve got these great junior college recruiting contacts, we graduated so many of them, so we’ll always have that. But we’re more of the traditional recruiting now.”

[Image: uab.png]

Impact of coaching changes
There are two changes on the staff after two departures for bigger jobs. Offensive line coach Jody Wright left for the Cleveland Browns, and he was replaced by Richard Owens, who worked at UAB from 2012-14. He most recently was the tight ends coach at Louisville.

Linebackers coach Brian Williams left for Maryland. In his place, defensive coordinator David Reeves will work with the linebackers, and analyst Jay Simpson was promoted to cornerbacks coach. Blake Shrader’s title as defensive backs coach remains.

With the high personnel turnover on the depth chart, keeping most of the staff intact should help the transition.

Schedule analysis

UAB might have one of the easiest schedules in the country, especially early. Only two opponents reached a bowl game in 2018. Two of the first four opponents (Akron and Western Kentucky) have a new head coach and are thus going through plenty of changes of their own. Western Kentucky and Old Dominion are UAB’s divisional crossover games, and they were the two worst teams in the East last year.

After an off week in late October, the toughest part of the schedule comes in November, opening with trips to Tennessee and a Southern Miss team that went 6-5 last season and went to overtime against the Blazers. UTEP went 1-11, but it played UAB tough. Then the regular season ends with a home game against Louisiana Tech and a trip to North Texas, two of the top teams in C-USA.

The Mean Green will likely be the preseason favorite in the West division, but Louisiana Tech is also expected to have another strong team. If UAB can get adjusted to changes through the easy part of the schedule, it could be competing for the division again at the end of the year.

The Blazers need to replace a lot, but a third consecutive bowl game should be expected, which would have been a crazy thing to say at any other point in UAB’s history.

Final assessment
Needing to replace around 15 starters would be a daunting task for any team, but we’ve seen Clark and company replace an entire roster and build a champion, so it has shown it can overcome such adversity.

The offense needs to find a starting five on the line, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the quarterback and the running game. The defense has new starters up and down the board, but the Blazers get some benefit of the doubt after last year’s success.

With the head coach staying, a new stadium on the way and a conference championship in the back pocket, UAB has already reached heights once considered unfathomable. It’s why the program was shut down in the first place. Community backlash and support brought it back, and the coaches and players in it brought it up to here. What’s left for an encore? We’ll find out.
(This post was last modified: 06-01-2019 09:23 PM by WesternBlazer.)
06-01-2019 01:26 PM
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bftb Offline
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RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
(06-01-2019 01:26 PM)WesternBlazer Wrote:  State of the Program: After an unprecedented rebuild, UAB turns attention to sustaining success

So this is what the mountaintop is like.

During a visit to UAB’s practice facility, head coach Bill Clark is quick to point to where the Blazers used to practice on a muddy, slanted field. In the years since the program’s self-imposed shutdown in December 2014 and reinstatement months later, a state-of-the-art operations building was constructed. The tiny old building remains at the back end of a practice field, filled with dust and folding chairs. An artificial turf field under a gazebo is the new standard after tens of millions of dollars were raised, with more to come.

Going 8-5 in the program’s first season back in 2017 was a Cinderella story. In 2018, Cinderella took off that slipper en route to the program’s first Conference USA championship and an 11-3 season.

The practice facilities are top-notch. A new stadium is on the way, set to open in 2021. Clark received an extension through 2024 with a salary raise to $1.45 million, the highest in the conference.

UAB has new infrastructure in place, a championship in the trophy case and a bright future. Now, with the loss of more than 30 seniors, including numerous starters on both sides of the ball, this is where you’d normally say things get tough. But we’ve seen Clark and UAB make it through worse.

“It’s what we hoped it would be. This is what we worked for,” Clark said. “Obviously, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It went even better than we could have hoped for. Now it’s time to take advantage of it and hopefully we continue with recruiting, great attendance, and our goal the whole time was to be a national team, be in the conversation. This will be a big year to continue the momentum.”

The Blazers have a proven quarterback and running back. To repeat in 2019, they’ll need to find new receivers, fill holes in the trenches and rebuild a stingy defense, aided by some position changes.

“There’s a lot of excitement in our community, excitement in the team,” Clark said. “Having been on championship teams before, it’s always, what do you do next? The positive is these guys have been part of winning and know what it looks like. The backups, it’s their turn now, so we’ll see what they do with it.”

Biggest on-field question
UAB’s success in 2018 was largely because of its tenacious defense, which finished No. 7 nationally in scoring (17 points per game), No. 14 in yards per rush allowed (3.44), No. 26 in passing yards per attempt (6.4) and No. 5 in sacks per game (3.43). From Week 5 to Week 10, the Blazers allowed 38 total points over six games. They allowed just 12.6 points per game in Conference USA play.

Given that UAB had to create a roster from scratch, it pulled from everywhere. All 11 starters last season arrived at UAB as transfers from the junior college ranks or another four-year school. As a result, a lot of those veterans are gone. The Blazers must replace two of three starters on the defensive line, three of four starters at linebacker and three of four starters in the defensive backfield.


Bill Clark has a 25-14 record in three seasons at UAB.
In recent years, UAB has turned back to high school recruiting to help balance out the roster. Clark said this year’s team will have only 13 scholarship seniors. Youth will have to fill in the holes and lead the way.

“What does this group do now that it’s them?” he said. “You’ve had these other guys. These guys have to step up, others coming in the summer, if this group can continue this momentum, there’s a lot of exciting times because a lot are back the next year. That’s the question, what this group’s going to do.”

This UAB team might need to lean more on its offense, especially early on, but questions remain there, too.

Depth chart analysis
Quarterbacks: Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent can’t stop gushing about sophomore Tyler Johnston III, who took over for an injured A.J. Erdely in November. Johnston threw for 306 yards at Texas A&M and had his best performance in the Boca Raton Bowl, passing for 373 yards and four touchdowns in a win against Northern Illinois. He needs to take better care of the ball (nine interceptions), but his average of 9.5 yards per attempt would have ranked No. 5 nationally if he qualified with enough attempts. He is clearly a quarterback UAB can build around.

“He’s different, man,” Vincent said. “I’ve coached a lot of them. He’s different. It’s hard to explain. They made up the word ‘intangibles’ because of this kid and guys like (Tim) Tebow. He’s a winner.”

Johnston went 35-0 as a starter at Spanish Fort High School in Alabama and won two state championships. At UAB last year, he started the division-clinching win against Southern Miss, the Conference USA championship game win against Middle Tennessee and the bowl win. Coaches say he’s already stepped up as a leader in the offseason.

“The guy knows how to win,” Clark said. “He played so well for us and picked up where he left off after the bowl game. Had a really good spring. He’s been a great leader, and we expect a great summer because of guys like him.”

Behind Johnston, redshirt freshman Dylan Hopkins is the backup. Coaches are also high on true freshman Bryson Lucero, who arrived from IMG Academy.

Running backs: This will be the strength of the offense, with 1,200-yard rusher Spencer Brown back as a junior after being named first-team All-C-USA. The 220-pound Brown battled a foot injury much of 2018 and was held out of spring after surgery. Coaches say he was only 80 percent last year, but he’ll be 100 percent come fall. He has rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of his first two seasons.

Brown’s backups also return in sophomore Lucious Stanley (274 yards) and Jarrion Street (275 yards), though Street has moved to defense. Johnston ranked second on the team in rushing (359 yards). Vincent also likes senior Jonathan Haden, the brother of NFL player Joe Haden and a former Arizona player who was a slot receiver for UAB but missed all of 2018 with an injury. The 5-foot-7, 174-pound speedster will be a good change of pace. Arkansas State transfer Larry Wooden is also eligible after sitting out last season.


Spencer Brown has 2,556 rushing yards in two seasons.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The Blazers lost their top four receivers, who combined for 123 catches and 2,285 yards. Senior Kendall Parham had 14 catches last season, and junior Austin Watkins began last season as a starter before an injury. The 6-3, 200-pound Watkins had three catches for 109 yards and a 35-yard touchdown in UAB’s spring game.

“Look for him to be the alpha of that group,” Vincent said of Watkins. “He started the first four games last year. He was good enough to beat out those other guys.”

On May 31, UAB added RaJae Johnson, the No. 1 JUCO wide receiver in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite. Other names to watch include junior Myron Mitchell, a former Texas Tech commit out of junior college who impressed on the scout team, and Markus Grossman, coming in from Fullerton College. Senior Sederian Copeland has battled injuries the past two years but is expected to contribute.

At tight end, junior Hayden Pittman returns after an eight-catch season, and Clark thinks he has a chance to be an all-conference player. Senior Garrett Prince will back him up.

Offensive line: This is the prime area of concern on offense, with four starters lost to graduation, three of whom earned all-conference honors. The lone returning regular starter is center Lee Dufour. But Dufour missed some time due to injury, which led to six starts between Greg Fecanin and Andrew Smith, who still preserved a redshirt and can play guard. Now a junior, Fecanin is expected to move to guard.

At left tackle, Vincent expects junior Colby Ragland, a former junior college starter who redshirted last year, to take the job. Sophomore Patrick Nuss is a strong candidate for right tackle after playing in all 14 games as a freshman. Senior David Galten is the favorite to start at left guard.

Other names to watch at tackle include junior Carter Wood and incoming junior college transfer Jakoby Jones. Smith got playing time at center last year but was able to redshirt. He could contribute at center and guard. Incoming junior college guards Matthew Trehern and Sidney Wells and returning sophomore Zack Aylor are also in the mix. Vincent is well aware of the challenges up front.

“You’ve got to get your front five jelling,” he said. “We lost four of the five. We’ve gotta get the best five on the same page. Spring was a lot better than what I thought it was going to be.”



Click here to enlarge

Defensive line: Perhaps the strongest unit on the team in 2018, the defensive line must replace two all-conference players in Jamell Garcia-Williams and Anthony Rush. On the three-man line, the lone returner is defensive tackle Garrett Marino, a senior who had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Clark says Marino has a chance to be an all-conference player after earning honorable mention last year.

At nose tackle, 320-pound redshirt freshman Fish McWilliams is expected to fill the role, but 355-pound junior college transfer Tony Fair will also get time there. At the other defensive tackle spot, sophomore Antonio Moultrie and junior Mi’Cario Stanley are candidates to slide in. Depth is a question on the line, but coaches are optimistic they’ll find the right people.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys,” Clark said. “It’ll be a big rotation.”

Linebackers: Gone are Chris Woolbright and Tre’ Crawford, who combined for 26 TFLs a year ago. The only returning starter is on the inside with senior Fitzgerald Mofor, who finished second on the team with 75 tackles, including 7.5 TFLs.

But Mofor will be joined by an experienced defender in Kristopher Moll, who had 54 tackles and 7.5 TFLs in a hybrid STAR position and has moved to inside linebacker. Other names to watch include sophomore Kobe Griffin and junior Luke Brasher.

On the outside, there isn’t a ton of FBS game experience. Junior Thomas Johnston (brother of QB Tyler) has moved from the inside and could start. He had 17 tackles a year ago. Senior Adrienne Talan has also moved from inside to outside. Redshirt freshman Jalen Rayam had a sack in limited time before redshirting last season.


UAB allowed 13 or fewer points seven times last season.

Defensive backs: The secondary is the most experienced group on defense, but that’s relative. Both safeties must be replaced after the graduation of Broderick Thomas and Mar’Sean Diggs, who combined for 128 tackles. In their place, senior Will Dawkins fills in with plenty of past starting experience. Former Ole Miss transfer Jarrion Street is a candidate for safety or the STAR hybrid position after playing running back for UAB last year. Junior Trey Whitmore also moved to safety from running back. Other names to watch include junior Dy’jonn Turner, sophomore Grayson Cash and redshirt freshman Jaylen Key.

“I’m really excited about that group of safeties and STARs,” Clark said.

Junior Brontae Harris returns at one cornerback spot. “I don’t know if he was all-conference last year, but he should have been,” Clark said. Harris had two interceptions and 35 tackles a year ago, earning honorable mention C-USA honors. Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-10 corner nationally. Sophomore Starling Thomas V could start at the other spot after playing as a true freshman. Clark also mentioned sophomore CD Daniels.

Special teams: Once again, returning experience is relative. Kicker Nick Vogel returns as a senior, but he was only 15-for-24 on field goals last season and 13-for-17 the year before. Punter Kyle Greenwell averaged 40 yards per punt as a true freshman, which was No. 83 nationally, though eight went for at least 50 yards. Around half were fair-caught.

The Blazers need a new holder to replace Clark’s son, Jacob Clark, as well as returners following the graduation of Andre Wilson.

How the Blazers have recruited from 2016-2019
Using 247Sports’ Composite rankings, here is how UAB’s recruiting classes have fared nationally and within Conference USA over the past four years:

[Image: UAB_SOTP_2019_Recruiting-1-1024x249.png]

Rebuilding a roster from scratch put UAB in a unique situation when recruiting. UAB’s 2016 class ranked No. 71 nationally and No. 2 in Conference USA, but it included almost 50 players after the school was granted waivers on class size. The 2017 class had 31 players, while the past two have had 23.

There was also a huge emphasis on junior college players early, because a roster entirely made of freshmen would have been disastrous. That huge 2016 class featured 40 junior college players, but things are leveling out now. The 2017 class had 16 junior college players. That dropped to eight in 2018 and seven in 2019.

“We’ve slowly moved toward high school more and more, and now it’s a huge part,” Clark said. “Having facilities, having name recognition, everybody knows who we are. The new stadium is starting construction soon. It’s totally different.

“We’ve got these great junior college recruiting contacts, we graduated so many of them, so we’ll always have that. But we’re more of the traditional recruiting now.”

[Image: uab.png]

Impact of coaching changes
There are two changes on the staff after two departures for bigger jobs. Offensive line coach Jody Wright left for the Cleveland Browns, and he was replaced by Richard Owens, who worked at UAB from 2012-14. He most recently was the tight ends coach at Louisville.

Linebackers coach Brian Williams left for Maryland. In his place, defensive coordinator David Reeves will work with the linebackers, and analyst Jay Simpson was promoted to cornerbacks coach. Blake Shrader’s title as defensive backs coach remains.

With the high personnel turnover on the depth chart, keeping most of the staff intact should help the transition.

Schedule analysis

UAB might have one of the easiest schedules in the country, especially early. Only two opponents reached a bowl game in 2018. Two of the first four opponents (Akron and Western Kentucky) have a new head coach and are thus going through plenty of changes of their own. Western Kentucky and Old Dominion are UAB’s divisional crossover games, and they were the two worst teams in the East last year.

After an off week in late October, the toughest part of the schedule comes in November, opening with trips to Tennessee and a Southern Miss team that went 6-5 last season and went to overtime against the Blazers. UTEP went 1-11, but it played UAB tough. Then the regular season ends with a home game against Louisiana Tech and a trip to North Texas, two of the top teams in C-USA.

The Mean Green will likely be the preseason favorite in the West division, but Louisiana Tech is also expected to have another strong team. If UAB can get adjusted to changes through the easy part of the schedule, it could be competing for the division again at the end of the year.

The Blazers need to replace a lot, but a third consecutive bowl game should be expected, which would have been a crazy thing to say at any other point in UAB’s history.

Final assessment
Needing to replace around 15 starters would be a daunting task for any team, but we’ve seen Clark and company replace an entire roster and build a champion, so it has shown it can overcome such adversity.

The offense needs to find a starting five on the line, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the quarterback and the running game. The defense has new starters up and down the board, but the Blazers get some benefit of the doubt after last year’s success.

With the head coach staying, a new stadium on the way and a conference championship in the back pocket, UAB has already reached heights once considered unfathomable. It’s why the program was shut down in the first place. Community backlash and support brought it back, and the coaches and players in it brought it up to here. What’s left for an encore? We’ll find out.

Thank you kindly sir.
06-01-2019 09:09 PM
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bftb Offline
Go Blazers!
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Posts: 926
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Post: #6
RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
The article says we need a new holder to replace Jacob Clark. What's up with that? He was a redshirt sophomore last year. Did he graduate and decide not to continue playing? Or is he coaching?

He is not on the 2019 roster on UABsports.com.
06-01-2019 09:23 PM
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bftb Offline
Go Blazers!
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Post: #7
RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
(06-01-2019 09:23 PM)bftb Wrote:  The article says we need a new holder to replace Jacob Clark. What's up with that? He was a redshirt sophomore last year. Did he graduate and decide not to continue playing? Or is he coaching?

He is not on the 2019 roster on UABsports.com.

Nevermind. A quick Google search answered my question. His LinkedIn profile says he is a grad assistant at UAB.
06-01-2019 09:26 PM
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C-Finder Offline
Bench Warmer
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Post: #8
RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
Great article!
06-01-2019 09:34 PM
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jcduncan13 Offline
1st String
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Post: #9
RE: Really good football write-up in The Athletic
Great article! The Athletic does a great job covering G5 teams. If we can make it to the Tennessee game undefeated...
06-02-2019 05:57 PM
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