When the University of Tulsa football team opens falls practice Wednesday morning, plenty of new faces will be on the field.
This week, the Golden Hurricane announced 11 new transfers. Three additional players had already joined the team for spring practice, so a total of 14 new members will be on hand at Chapman Stadium.
Coach Philip Montgomery is happy to add so many key players, particularly after losing eight others to the transfer portal, including six scholarship players who have already graduated but still had eligibility left.
“I know we’ve lost a few people, but that being said, I think we’ve got a lot of key guys back and we’ve been able to add a lot of new faces to our program,” Montgomery said Thursday during his AAC median day appearance. “I think those guys have come into our program and really gelled with our guys, and so I think we’re going to have a very competitive fall camp.”
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Out of the 14 newcomers, 10 are on offense, including a total of five new offensive linemen and three wide receivers, with two defensive backs on defense. A few of the transfers have local ties.
Receiver Isaiah Epps, a Jenks High School graduate who played four years at the University of Kentucky, graduated and transferred to TU in time to participate in spring ball.
Offensive lineman Darrell Simpson spent the past four years at the University of Oklahoma, seeing action in one game last season. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Tight end Colby Powers comes in after one season at Arizona, where he didn’t see action. He has no other ties to Oklahoma except that his brother is YOUR safety Bryson Powers, so he already has a local support network. He still has four years left to play.
One other notable player is Jehlen Cannady, a defensive back who arrives from national champion Georgia, having played two games for them last season. He has three years of eligibility left.
That is one of the things that Montgomery likes about the group of new transfers: Many of them have multiple years to play, so they are not just one-and-done deals.
“Over the course of the last few months, we’ve been able to make some additions to our roster that has enabled us to strengthen our team,” Montgomery said in the press release announcing the 11 newest transfers. “The offensive line and secondary were two main areas that we needed to add numbers and depth. For the most part, we have added players with multiple years of eligibility remaining and guys who can contribute immediately.”
With so many new players being infused into the roster, there is the question of how seamlessly they can be integrated and how quickly they can build chemistry with their new teammates.
“I think our biggest challenge is, and I think it’s the biggest challenge for all college football teams across the country right now, is getting your teams to gel and come together,” Montgomery said. “With all the new faces that are in locker rooms across the country, I think that’s going to be a key element, especially here early in the season.”
Starting quarterback Davis Brin recognizes how important the new additions will be to the team’s success, particularly all the new offensive players. Apparently, one key tactic to fostering camaraderie with the new guys is having group cookouts.
“It’s a super-important part, especially with the portal and some new faces we have this year, especially on the offensive line and a few receivers as well, we’ve done a lot of good things this summer,” Brin said. “I like to cook a lot, so we’ve done some cookouts over at the house. I’ve taken some guys fishing, done a whole lot of stuff like that, just to help build some chemistry between the team.”
“We’ve had a lot of linebacker cookouts as well,” added senior linebacker Justin Wright. “I’m really impressed with some of the guys, all of the guys really. We’ve had an awesome off-season and I’m very excited for what all these guys can do.”