By: Matt Rechtien, Ryan Token
A collaboration between Ryan Token (Writing) and Matt Rechtien (Stats)
As the calendar moves from 2019 into 2020, everyone is already thinking about the Golden Hurricane’s next football season. Before we start to think that far ahead, we would like to take some time to look back at the seniors leaving TU and appreciate them for what they brought to Tulsa. We’ll start with offense first.
Editor’s Note: The “Best Game” that is listed for most of these players is a very subjective decision that Matt made based on that stats and performances that each player had. If you think there’s a better game please leave a comment with your thoughts!
TOE! Man, what a career it’s been for the kid from Alto, TX. We’ve given him several nicknames throughout the podcast, but Coach Monty and the rest of the team simply call him Toe in reference to his hometown.
I’d argue that Keenen’s been one of the two most consistent and reliable players on either side of the ball for us over his career. He is the Cooper Edmiston of our offense. Always there, doing the right thing at the right time exactly when you need him to.
Case in point: his unbelievable catch on 4th and 5 against Wyoming when we were down by four with about three and a half minutes left in the game. That catch was a huge reason we won that one. The very next play, Brooks ran it in for a 19 yard touchdown in what ended up being the game-winning score.
And look at that First Career Game stat! As a true freshman in 2016, he came in against #13 Houston ON THE ROAD and puts up 94 yards on 8 catches. That’s a big stage for a first career game, and he absolutely lit it up. Also, if I remember correctly, he wore red cleats with red tape that game, and that began a bit of a red-cleat-wearing trend for our receiving corps.
The guy even had a passer rating of 115. He was a dual-threat quarterback in high school, and got to show off some of those skills throughout his time at Tulsa. His career passer rating of 115 was better than several names around college football this year, including TCU’s Max Duggan and South Carolina’s Ryan Hilinski. Not too shabby for a guy whose first collegiate pass attempt (I’m pretty sure) was an interception on a trick play.
Keenen’s been that dude for us for four years straight. Our go-to guy when we need a spark, a momentum carrier when things are going well, and Mr. Reliable all game, every game. We’re going to miss having him on campus, and wish him the best of luck with whatever he decides to pursue in the future.
The kid from Carlsbad, CA is arguably the best punter in Tulsa history.
According to Sports-Reference.com, Thomas Bennett is 56th ALL TIME in terms of yards per punt at 43.9. That finishes above several famous punters including legendary Colts punter/current ESPN analyst Pat McAfee, Pro-Bowler Andy Lee, Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion for the Saints Thomas Morstead, and multi-NFL-team star Donnie Jones. He’s also ranked above the saving grace of Houston football this year, Australian punter Dane Roy.
There’s only one other punter from Tulsa in the top 250, and that’s Michael Such at #148 – who averaged 42.5 yards per punt from 2007-2010. Bennett is in some great company with those numbers, and thereby has a real chance at making an NFL squad. We’ll be keeping an eye on @360skilltom for sure.
Fun fact, Tulsa legend Glenn Dobbs is ranked 11th on Gil Brandt’s Greatest NFL Punters of All Time list.
Also, did you know Thomas’s dad was an NFL punter?????
Chris Ivy Jr.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s much harder to find stats/write about offensive linemen than essentially every other position.
Chris, however, makes it a bit easier seeing as he was the only returner who played in all 12 games last year. Chris helped lead a transitional period for an offensive line that had to replace some of our best linemen in recent memory. That includes names like Willie Wright, Tyler Bowling, and Chandler Miller.
Chris led a very young group consisting of new centers Gerard Wheeler and Dylan Couch (now at guard), Chris Paul, X’Zauvea Gadlin, Dante Bivens, Tyler Smith, and others. This bunch improved significantly throughout the season, and you have to attribute much of that progress to the leadership of Chris Ivy. He played a crucial role in this year’s line, and they will only improve further as they continue to grow.
Jarion came to TU in 2015 and redshirted his freshman year. In 2016, he played in several games, primarily as a punt returner, but didn’t notch any really significant plays. After not playing at all in 2017, he finally became a name TU fans knew during the 2018 season.
In 2018, he played in every game, handling nearly all of our punt return duties. The 2018 season alone, he returned 11 punts for 139 yards. That’s good enough for 12.6 yards per punt return. Those are great numbers for a returner. I believe that should have been good enough for the 15th best in college football in 2018, but he doesn’t make Sports-Reference.com’s list for some reason.
To add to that fantastic average, he had a 55-yard return against Tulane. In 2019, though, his play time declined significantly. He only played in one game, and it resulted in one punt return for -2 yards. A lot of the decline in time on the field can likely be attributed to the emergence of all-around playmaker Keylon Stokes.
Jarion’s had an up-and-down career, but has had more than enough big plays throughout his time here for us to remember him fondly.
Why Danny didn’t play this year, I have no idea. He was a grad transfer from Drake University, where he went 9/9 on field goals and 34/37 on PATs in his senior year. He recorded several awards over the years with Drake, including Pioneer League Special Teams Player of the Week, Honorable Mention all-conference in 2017, and more. Danny also played his high school ball for Jenks High School here in Tulsa.
We certainly could have used someone a bit more consistent at kicker this year, especially seeing as our starter this year was only a redshirt freshman.
I’m not sure why Danny wasn’t given more of a look this year. It’s tough to know what happened during spring or fall camp, over the summer, or anything like that – so we can only guess at those kind of things. I do know that he was a talented kicker for Drake, and is a hometown guy that likely would have been an improvement on what we had this year. The focus very well may have been on developing Rainey, but that point could be moot now since Montgomery just signed his first scholarship kicker in Tyler Tipton during 2019’s Early Signing Period.
We’ll see how this all plays out next year between Rainey and Tipton, but I do wish we could have seen more of Danny out there kicking for us this year.
Unfortunately, Andrew didn’t have any noteworthy stats during his time on TU’s campus. He walked on, and spent most of his time on special teams.
Jordan literally didn’t start playing football until 2018. Back in 2015, he was a basketball player for DII Montevallo, who then transferred to Dodge City Community College to play football. Jordan didn’t play at Dodge City, and then transferred to Tulsa to play tight end.
Sadly, we didn’t get to see Jordan on the field this year. He’s listed as a Redshirt Sophomore on the TU Athletics Website, but he participated in the Senior Day festivities this year, so I don’t believe he’ll be on the team next year.
Judge transferred to Tulsa from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Community College in 2018, but didn’t see much time on the field for the Golden Hurricane.
Gipson has been an absolute animal coming off the edge.
First team all-conference AAC 2019, #2 all-time in the AAC in career forced fumbles with eight, led the AAC in forced fumbles in 2018, fifth in the conference in tackles for loss in 2019 with fifteen.
All of that is impressive. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Trevis has played in a three-man front defensively for most of his career. He was constantly double-teamed, especially this year, and still he could not be contained.
Of all the players discussed here, I’d argue that Trevis is the one who has changed the most since freshman year. Before he signed with TU in 2015, Gipson was a slender 207 pounder who was passed on by every other FBS university. Tulsa took a chance on him, and he became the 270 pound first-team all conference beast that he is today. There’s a picture out there somewhere of him freshman year vs him this season, and it is unbelievable. I can’t find it anymore, though. If you have that picture, let us know! You can also email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also of all the players discussed here, Gipson has likely the best chance of being drafted. RotoWorld has some good information on his draft stock if you’re interested in reading about it. Trevis has the body type, the quickness, and the power to be effective in the NFL. Possibly even more important, though, is that he has ELITE celebrations. We’ve seen everything from a running (but fortunately not peeing) dog, to a businessman with a suitcase, to even donning Thanos’s gauntlet – and those are all from this year alone!
NFL teams: Take notice. This guy will give you his all and then some.
Dear reader, I’ve got two words for you: MR. PRIMETIME.
A former two-star recruit from Gatesville, TX, Coop is now 5th ALL TIME in total tackles in the American Conference with 343. He’s behind Temple’s Tyler Matakevich (who won both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards), Cincy’s Zach Edwards, USF’s Auggie Sanchez, and UConn’s Obi Melifonwu. Three of those four guys made it to the NFL.
He was fourth in the conference in assisted tackles in 2017, and has led the conference for the last two years. Compared to the rest of the country, he is #71 all time in assisted tackles. That’s good enough to beat out names like LSU / Tampa Bay’s Devin White, C.J. Spillman for the Cowboys, and obviously plenty of others. He is #1 all time in assisted tackles in the AAC. In terms of solo tackles, he is #21 all time in the conference.
We’ve all gotten used to hearing Coach Montgomery call him “Johnny on the Spot” over the last few years, since he always seems to be in the right place at the right time to make the big, game-changing play. You don’t wind up consistently in the right place at the right time over and over again by chance. That’s due to having a high football IQ, knowing where the ball is going, and being able to take advantage of your opportunities.
Cooper had the second-most interceptions in the conference last year with four, and had the fourth-most forced fumbles last year with three. He only had one forced fumble this year, but I’m sure we can all think of where that one came right away. Again, he was in the right place at the right time, and made arguably the biggest play of his career. He stripped the ball from Wyoming QB Sean Chambers … at our own three yard line … in the final minute of the game … when we were only up by three points. Legitimately, it doesn’t get any more clutch than that.
That play defined his career more perfectly than anything else. Coop is someone we could always count on. He was always where we needed him to be and would do whatever we needed him to do. He was as sure a tackler as anyone on the team, and made big plays when we needed them most.
Tulsa has quietly been churning out big-time playmakers at linebacker for a long time now. When I came to TU in 2013, it was all about Shawn Jackson. Following him were the solid trio of Trent Martin, Matt Linscott, and Craig Suits. That legacy has continued with Cooper Edmiston and Diamon Cannon, and appears to be in great hands yet again with Yohance Burnett and Zaven Collins. Cooper has done an incredible job during his career at Tulsa and will be a presence we miss having amongst the defense.
From an hour and a half down the road in Roland, OK, Manny Bunch is a guy who’s gotten better for us each and every year he’s been on campus.
Even in his freshman year back in 2016, he was a solid contributor. He played sparingly in seven games, but was able to tally 11 tackles and a pass breakup. Since then, he’s only gotten better and better.
His best year statistically was in 2018. 80 total tackles (41 solo), 5 pass breakups, and 1.5 tackles for loss. However, his deep ball coverage really improved during his final year in 2019. I don’t have stats to back that up, but solely based on the eye test he tracked down deep balls much more effectively this year.
His 2019 stats were no joke, either. 57 total tackles (29 solo), 5 pass breakups again, 2 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. While I did notice an uptick in missed tackles this year, Manny was yet again a vital part of our #43 ranked passing defense and (sadly) our #92 ranked rushing defense; though the rushing defense doesn’t fall on him as much.
Bunch has good size at 6’1’’, 201 lbs, and has been fun to watch for four years now. We’ll miss seeing him in the gold and blue. He’s a big loss defensively, but I’m sure he’ll be successful in the future.
Reggie Robinson III
What can we say about this guy that people don’t already know. He was our best deep-ball protector this year, and has had one of the deepest careers in total of anybody on this list. He was also the fastest guy on the defense for us, and consistently covered the opposing team’s best offensive weapon.
While guarding the best opposing player, Reggie still tallied three interceptions this year alone. But honestly, I don’t think that’s his most impressive stat. Look at this: Reggie had 13, THIRTEEN, passes broken up this year. That is most on the team, and it’s not even close. Next best is a tie for second at five between Manny Bunch and Brandon Johnson.
Yes, that’s impressive when looking at Tulsa’s team, but when compared to the rest of the country it’s even more impressive. Reggie’s thirteen passes broken up and four interceptions puts him tied for EIGHTH in the entire country in terms of passes defended. That’s the best in the AAC, and was certainly the primary contributing factor to his first-team all-conference selection this year.
The guy is a straight up ball-hawk, and it will be tough to replace him next year. We do have talent at the DB spot, but we don’t seem to be very deep at the position. Akayleb Evans was hurt for most of this season but showed a lot of promise last year, and then we really only have Allie Green and now-Junior Tyon Davis. So the starters next year will likely be Evans, Green, and Davis; with some likely contributions from Ryan Nixon. New signees this year include CBs Kaylon Washington and Rico Windham, and a safety in who could be the most talented player in the class in Sean O’Keefe; so we’ll likely see some help from all of those guys next year.
Reggie certainly left his mark on The University of Tulsa. The 2019 season was undoubtedly his best season, but every year he played we knew he was a stud. Lightning quick, good size, and great ball skills, Reggie deserves a hard look at the next level, and I hope he can find his way there in some capacity.
Diamon was the third cog in the powerful Tulsa linebacking machine this year.
He’s another guy who’s been steady for us for three straight years, and will be another tough guy to replace. Some combination of Treyvon Reeves, Robert Revels, and Yohance Burnett look to be the front-runners to replace him next year, but they’ll need to be big-time producers to match his impact.
While I’d argue that he was the weakest of our core linebacking group this year, the two other guys in that group were flat out some of the best players on our team overall this year. Diamon is a skilled, savvy, and incredibly strong linebacker. Always a sure tackler – making the plays we need him to make, and especially impactful in stopping the run and getting his hand on the ball.
We’ll miss Diamon and all of his production over the years. Best of luck to him in the future!
From right here in Tulsa, Shemarr has played big-time minutes on the D-Line for four years now. He’s been a solid impactor for years, and we’ll miss his production.
He played his high school ball for Central High School, and was named to the Tulsa World All-Metro team as a senior. As a true freshman during the 2016 season, he played in every game.
Things improved in 2017, as he again played in every game, but that year he also started in 9 of them. 2018 was a bit of a different story, though, as he missed a couple of games due to injury, and only started in three total games.
His senior year was undoubtedly his best year. He started every game in 2019, tallying 31 total tackles, 2 TFLs, a pass break-up, and a fumble recovery. Shemarr showed true toughness throughout all four of his years here, and impacted the team in every one of them. Junior Cullen Wick looks to be next in line at the DT spot.
Brandon has been a consistent and solid presence for us this year.
He transferred to TU from Tyler Community College in the fall of 2018, and played in all twelve games that season. It wasn’t until this year, though, that he really had his opportunity to shine.
In 2019 alone, he had 67 total tackles, 45 of which were solo. Those are each good enough for third-most on the team, after Cooper Edmiston and Zaven Collins. He also had 5 pass breakups, which is second-best on the team after Reggie Robinson’s 13(!).
Brandon primarily filled McKinley Whitfield’s very large shoes at the safety spot. His deep ball coverage was consistently fantastic, and I would often forget he was out there due to opposing teams not wanting to go against him. We’ll definitely miss Brandon next year, and he leaves shoes that will be nearly as difficult to fill as McKinley did before him.
Unfortunately, much of Keidrian’s career was marred by injury. After redshirting in 2015, Keidrian saw game time in 2016 and 2017.
In 2016, he played mostly on special teams as a punt returner, with a couple solid returns against the beatdown we took at Ohio State’s behest. The best return of his career was a 60 yarder against North Carolina A&T.
In 2017, Keidrian started in three games at safety, the first of which was against SMU. His lone career interception came on a 37-yard interception return against Houston in 2017 in one of our two wins that season. He did, however, miss three games during the 2017 season with an injury.
Sadly, the 2017 season was the last time Keidrian would see playing time. He missed the entire 2018 season with an injury, and didn’t see any playing time throughout 2019 either.
With the depth of talent we have had on the defensive end, especially amongst our DBs recently, I think it’s just been tough for Keidrien to find a niche for himself on our defense. And, like Jarion Anderson, his role in the return game has been overtaken by the emergence of Keylon Stokes.
Do you have any favorite memories of the graduating seniors? Send us your thoughts on Twitter or Instagram @GoldenHurricast or send us an email at email@example.com. Thanks for reading and remember, Stay Golden!