Coming off a disappointing 3-9 season in football Head Coach Jake Spavital’s first year, it is clear the team is ready for a fresh start ahead of the 2020 season.
After the COVID-19 outbreak led to the cancellation of sports in the spring, there remained a level of uncertainty about whether sports would continue this fall.
As of now, the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and Mid-Atlantic conferences announced they will push their seasons to the spring, while the ACC, Big 12, SEC, American, C-USA and Sun Belt conferences plan to play this fall.
After losing two games due to football cancellations, Spavital and the Bobcats are eager to play this season.
“I sat down with the team, and they want to play…I’m going to do whatever I can for our players,” Spavital said. “We’ve had a lot of talks about COVID guidelines, our protocols and everything, and [our players] believe they are in the safest place to be here right now in our facilities.”
The season will see former Ole Miss Wide Receiver Coach Jacob Peeler who was brought on in January as offensive coordinator following the departure of Bob Stitt. Peeler coached with Spavital at Cal and has helped send many wide receivers to the NFL, including the Seattle Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf and the Tennessee Titans’ AJ Brown.
The recruiting class also saw a total tonal shift as the Bobcats hit the junior college pipeline while also nabbing several transfers coming in from Power Five teams such as Texas, Arizona State, Texas Tech and Arkansas.
As the team prepares for the season opener Sept. 5 against SMU, all eyes will be on the offense. Spavital will be taking over play-calling duties as he and Peeler work to revamp the offense which has struggled over the past four seasons.
One of the main struggles of the offensive attack last season was the offensive line, which contributed to one of the worst rushing attacks the team has ever had; however, Spavital believes this year will be different with the amount of depth the offensive line has.
“That wasn’t the case last year,” Spavital said. “Right now, the [offensive line] is the most healthy group; we are pretty confident in eight to 10 kids that could go in, and it wouldn’t [negatively] affect us in any way.”
Another question that has remained unanswered is who will be starting at quarterback this year.
Texas State fans have seen an endless carousel at the quarterback position since Tyler Jones left in 2015. The team has had six different quarterbacks start for the Bobcats with none of the incumbent starters holding the position down consistently.
The battle has become a two-horse race as junior Jaylen Gipson and sophomore Memphis transfer Brady McBride gun for the starting spot.
The team believes the starting quarterback will not be short on firepower this year—the Bobcats were able to load up on both the wide receiver and running back positions ahead of the season.
The wide receiver position will be led by juniors Javen Banks and Trevis Graham Jr., along with senior Jeremiah Haydel and the highly-recruited sophomore transfer Drue Jackson.
The running back position will see sophomore transfer Brock Sturges, senior Robert Brown Jr. and freshman Calvin Hill in the rotation. Sophomore Oklahoma State transfer Jahmyl Jeter, who has been a part of the rotation, will await the eligibility announcement this season.
Defensively, the team will look different following the loss of several defensive starters, including all-time Texas State tackler Bryan London III.
The linebacker position saw a slew of transfers come in including junior Maureese Wren, the highest-rated recruit in Texas State’s 2020 class, according to 24/7 sports.
With graduate transfers Christian Taylor, Brayden Stringer and Sione Tupou, the team hopes the added depth will help the linebacker spot loaded with nine underclassmen.
The secondary will be headed by junior cornerback Jarron Morris who led the team in interceptions last season with two. Helping Morris will be freshman safety Zion Childress who has impressed coaches since the start of fall camp.
On the defensive line, senior Caeveon Patton will lead the unit along with sophomore Jordan Revels and senior Jaquel Pierce.
Special teams will see sophomore Seamus O’Kelly back at the punter position while sophomore Seth Keller and junior Jacob Bates will battle for starting kicker.
As the season opener approaches, the team hopes to prove last year’s disappointing season was a fluke.