A bizarre offseason in the offensive line room got a little stranger on Thursday.
After just a year with the program, Lance Robinson announced he was entering the transfer portal again. Robinson was the second starter, following Cam’Ron Johnson, and the ninth lineman to leave since December. OL coach Brandon Jones also, uhhh, entered the portal after he was dismissed in late January. Mizzou hired him in March.
Tulane’s Eman Naghavi was hired to replace Jones, and after his first spring, his focus has been on filling the back half of the OL roster before June. Naghavi came in to improve run blocking and physicality, and that mandate has not meshed well with some players.
Transfer Portal Offensive Linemen
Despite losing two starters in six weeks, depth is UH’s most significant issue. Cougar offensive linemen had 121 appearances last year, but the team has lost 63 (52%) of those to the portal. Sylvester, Todd, Robinson, Johnson, and Bowman played in 10+ games.
Dana Holgorsen said last week that he anticipated recruiting 5-6 additional OL for depth, which the Cougars need more than ever as they enter the Big 12. Not counting Todd, UH has 11 offensive linemen listed on the roster. For the opener last year against UTSA, the Cougars had 17.
In the last two weeks, several G5 linemen have committed. Max Banes returns after a one-year absence, having played at Akron. In addition, Shamar Hobdy-Lee from FIU committed and his teammate – Lyndell Hudson – is considering UH.
Patrick Paul, Jack Freeman, and Tyler Johnson remain, having started 36 of 39 possible games in 2022, and Reuben Unije and Tank Jenkins each had two starts as well. Naghavi has transfer Jaylen Garth (Texas) starting at right tackle in place of Robinson. Robinson’s decision to leave – forcing him to sit a year – was mainly due to losing his starting job. There is still a wide-open spot at left guard.
You have to assume Jenkins gets the first shot, but Jenkins has not been good at run blocking. After playing 152 snaps in the first two games last year, Jenkins played just 108 in the last 11 games. But Holgorsen noted last week that Tank had a good spring.
Staffers said they did not have enough OL to conduct a spring game. Dana said they were down to 10 active OL at that point.