What they lost -
Six full-time and one part-time starter on offense, five full-time and one part-time starter on defense.
Tristian Carter (HM All-LSC) rushed for 926 yards and 11 TDs and caught 31 passes for 148 yards and another TD.
Nate Bayless (2nd All-LSC) was a solid TE, with 27 catches for 287 yards and 4 TDs.
QB Jake Strickler, threw for 889 yards and 10 TDs filling in when Blake Hamblin went down in game six.
Four starting OL - Ryan Merriman (HM All-LSC), Keefer Preece, Stephen Boyles and Greg Lucas.
DL Lawrence Rumph (1st All-LSC) 42 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9 sacks
DL Godwin Ubah, BJ Bradley, and Mike Mosley (combined 58 tackles, 8 TFL)
LBs Corey Schuler, DJ Clough, Lance Tissue and Joseph Schumpert (combined 136 tackles, 11.5 TFL)
DBs Terrance Preston (HM All-LSC), Jake Eannarelli, and Travis McCloud (combined 72 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 Ints, 11 passes broken up)
Punter George Shamblen (2nd All-LSC) averaged 40.6 yards per punt
Who's coming back -
QB Blake Hamblin was having a very fine season before going down with an injury. He has some experienced WRs to throw to - CJ Akins, Mackenzie Hirt and Joey Knight combined for 83 catches, 1,285 yards and 7 TDs, not to mention the expected return of Dakari Pecikonis and Excelle Osborne. RBs Blake Smith and Samir Baker had 526 yards and 4 TDs rushing, and Antwon Williams caught 19 passes for 243 yards and 3 TDs. Up front, Austin Sumrall (HM All-LSC) is the lone returning starter.
Defensively, Kyle Patterson (2nd All-LSC) and Austin Benson return, having combined for 59 tackles, 11.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. Rush Seaver and Shiloh Hickman at LB and Alvin Johnson (HM All-LSC), Nekechie Miller, Dekkar Williams, Alex James and Jared Ross in the secondary lead the returnees. All in all, the returning players for the defense combined for 459 tackles, 46 TFL, 14.5 sacks, 5 Ints and 25 passes broken up.
Who they brought in -
Let's start with the elephant in the room - Jermie Calhoun. Calhoun was one of the most sought after recruits in the nation, having rushed for more than 6,000 yards in HS with 75 TDs his last three years. He was rated the #1 RB recruit by ESPN, #2 by Rivals and #3 by Scout. While at OU, things did not pan out. As a RS frosh, he had 220 yards rushing, but the next year, saw action in just 4 games. He certainly has the potential to have an outstanding year for the Rams, but noting is guaranteed. Justin Johnson was another highly recruited student athlete signed by OU that same year, and he never quite panned out. We're not directly comparing the two, just pointing out that potential sometimes goes unfulfilled.
So, how about the recruits? The Rams attempted to replenish the holes in the OL, with immediate help from JC transfers Isi Cocker (Kilgore) and Trent Davis (Cisco), and longer term prospects Tyler Hamilton, Rance Layton, and Jeremiah Turnbow. TE Alex Young was an original UNLV signee. QB Cameron Waites has an TAPPS HM All-State honoree. Defensively, London Dial and Deion Hill are big physical corners, while defensive linemen John Striednig (1st) and Ricky Ciuba (HM) received All-State recognition. Joseph Pickett was an HM All-State punter and kicker at Temple HS.
Overall Grade B+
The Rams appear to have addressed their needs - the OL gets some immediate help, while they have experienced backups that should be able to step up as well. Their ultimate grade will depend on Calhoun and whether he can show why he was so highly sought after as a senior in high school.