NCF Nation: D.J. Hayes

Spring rewind: Houston

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
10:30
AM ET
Time to check in on Houston to see where the Cougars stand following spring practice.

Questions answered: Houston lost three of its four starters in the secondary but have seemingly found replacements for its two starting cornerbacks after spring. Junior college transfers D.J. Hayden and Chevy Bennett made a quick impression after enrolling in January and are on course to start. Hayden and Bennett played on the same Navarro College team that won the national championship last season. Hayden, at 6 feet and 175 pounds, was particularly impressive and seemed to make plays every time the ball came near him. Safety Colton Valencia could also become a starter after a good spring. He transferred from Texas A&M and is eligible to play this season. There is also good depth at receiver. Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards return. Watch for redshirt freshman DeAndre Perry, Justin Johnson and outside receiver Isaiah Sweeney, who runs on the track team.

Questions unanswered: The offensive line lost three starters, including center Jordan Shoemaker, left guard Isaiah Thompson, and right tackle Roy Watts. The starters come fall are still up in the air. Center Blake Sargent hurt his shoulder late in spring practice and the school was still waiting to find out the extent of the injury. Chris Thompson was moved from guard to center to help. The big question is whether the defense will be better. There is depth at linebacker, so that helps. But there are still questions about who will start on the line. New defensive line coach Carlton Hall did a good job during the spring, focusing more on teaching. Linemen worked at tackle and end. Kelvin King, a hybrid end/linebacker, has moved to end full-time. Eric Braswell had a nice spring and could be a contributor. Depth at defensive back is also an issue.

Of note: Case Keenum did not participate in spring practice, save for the occasional throwing drill. Keenum is recovering from a torn ACL and will not be cleared to practice until June at the earliest. Cotton Turner and David Piland took the majority of the reps. Defensive back Nick Saenz (shoulder) and defensive lineman Zeke Riser (knee) also sat out spring ball. ... Running back Charles Sims is expected to be back with the team in the fall after sitting out 2010 for academic reasons.

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