This is the second in a four-part series about the state of the Cougar football program. Part 1 is here.
Major Applewhite has made a big bet on the strategy of attracting graduate transfers. In the past two seasons, UH has taken nine such players. But the practice has not paid off; in fact, the grad transfer route has left the program scrambling to fill out a roster of FBS-level talent.
In theory, grad transfers can be attractive targets – they’ve spent 3-4 years in another program and should be ready to contribute from day one. They can also be used to fill immediate needs or to upgrade a weak position.
But the obvious downside is you can get guys that, for whatever reason, are simply not good enough to produce immediately. As a whole, the grad transfers UH has brought in fit in this bucket: they cannot get on the field with any regularity.
Grad transfers are mercenaries – here for one season in order to play on a winning team. Due to that, they have to be plug and play and ready to produce starting in the first game. Had the program used that scholarship on a high school player, he could be developed and brought along. Grad transfers rob the program of a chance to develop a player and to keep moving forward.
Elite grad transfers are worth their weight but there are very few of those. And UH hasn’t come close to hitting on those guys. Here, we look at the grad transfers UH has brought in how they’ve produced:
2018 Grad Transfers
Nick Watkins – Played in all 12 games with 7 starts at CB. 40 tackles, 2 INTs and 5 passes broken up.
Raelon Singleton – Played in 8 games with 4 starts at WR. 12 catches for 208 yards and 3 TDs.
Terrence Williams – Played in 7 games with 0 starts at RB. 46 carries for 228 yards and 1 TD. 3 catches for 28 yards
Quinten Dormady – Played in 2 games with 0 starts at RB. 2-5 passing for 8 yards.
Darrion Owens – Played in 6 games with 1 start at LB. Injured in the Rice game and missed 6 games – had 2 tackles on the year.
In 2018, UH brought in 5 players but only Nick Watkins produced at or near the level you would expect from a grad transfer. While there were injuries among the grad transfers, the group as a whole produced just 12 starts.
Whether through injury or performance, the four grad transfers other than Watkins combined for 25 DNPs in the regular season. Dormady came here after starting in the SEC but was an afterthought and has now transferred again.
2017 Grad Transfers
Reggie Chevis – Played in 12 games with 9 starts. 34 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1/2 of a sack.
Ellis Jefferson – Played in 5 games with 0 starts at WR. 3 catches for 32 yards and 1 TD
Deon Mix – Appeared in 2 games.
Courtel Jenkins – DNP
In 2017 UH brought in 4 players and only Reggie Chevis produced produced at or near the level you would hope. The group as a whole produced 9 starts – all from Chevis – and 29 DNPs.
In two seasons, the Coogs got just 21 starts out of 9 grad transfers.
This is a looming disaster and a complete waste of resources. Instead of recruiting and developing nine freshmen that could help your program and provide depth for 4-5 years, Major chose the quick fix.
Watkins and Chevis were solid players for this program but Major whiffed on the other 7. Only four of the nine grad transfers played in seven games or more. The grad transfer gamble sacrifices the future for an immediate return and in two years under Major, we’ve crapped out.
All photos by Mario Puente.
Read the entire State of the Program series.
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