HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Houston Baptist.
HOUSTON BAPTIST (1-10)
Southland (HBU was 11th in the Southland in 2017)
COACH: Vic Shealy – 5th year (8-35)
2017 OFFENSE: 13.6 ppg (117th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 27.9 ppg (79th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: Let's go with the positives here: This program played tough defense at times last year and returns 24 letterwinners on that side of the ball. It played FBS Texas State tough (lost 20-11), and late in the year the defense clamped down rather well in games against Northwestern State, Lamar and even against FCS playoff team Nicholls — all games that were within 6 points of a win. Those are positives to build off of. There is defensive talent back on this roster and the Huskies had a better statistical defense than 45 other FCS teams, and when your offense struggles, that's tough to do. On offense, the QB is back, the coaching staff signed some great offensive skill talent, and if these freshmen are talented — they may get an early opportunity to show it at the FCS level. The thing is, there is talent to be mined in Texas, and that's a plus for Houston Baptist. Beating out Southern Miss and FCS power Illinois State for a recruit, like HBU did with in-state OG Parker Cupp this year? Case-in-point. All in all, 14 starters return, and if you add in specialists, make that 19 back.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: When you're rebuilding, every step forward is a positive step. This program is young (began playing in 2013) and is still gaining its footing. Goal No. 1 should be to get that first win under the belt, which is likely in the opener against non-FCS Southwest Baptist. Then, begin eyeballing that second 'W' and beat last year's mark, then go from there.
TOP RETURNEE: CB Raphael Lewis (1st team All Southland – 4 INTs, 2 TDs, 16 passes defensed, 62 tackles)
THE NEXT BEST: DB Nicholas Smith (3 INTs, 59 tackles); DE Andre Walker (14.5 TFLs, 4 sacks, 65 tackles); QB Bailey Zappe (1,548 yards passing 5 TDs, 340 gained yards, rushing); LB Kyle Bowling (58 tackles); OL Cody Hooks (senior started all 11 games); WR Dennis Houston (33 catches, 362 yards in just 8 starts as a freshman);
TOP NEWCOMER: WR Terry Tillmon (Oklahoma State/JUCO transfer)
DID YOU KNOW?: World Golf Hall of Famer Collin Montgomerie played golf at Houston Baptist, and went on to win 31 European Tour events (4th all time) and 6 PGA Tour events — and had 10 Top Ten performances in major championships (Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, PGA Championship)
THE QUOTE: "We're excited about this bunch and to be able to announce them and their families to you today. On a day like this, I get to stand up and talk, but our coaching staff has done a phenomenal job of recruiting in our four full years here at HBU … Now the challenge for our current players and for these young men next year is for us as coaches to develop them, so they can never be out-recruited. That's how you grow a football program." — Head Coach Vic Shealy said on national signing day
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #DawgsUp
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @HBU_Football
— HBU FOOTBALL (@HBU_Football) April 23, 2018
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