The University of Tulsa football team will wrap up spring drills with the annual Spring Game this Friday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. A review of the Golden Hurricane's spring football roster reveals several changes since last season, which are discussed below, including players that are no longer with the squad, positional changes, redshirts and more.
Players not returning
• Before spring practice began, InsideTulsaSports.com broke the news of wide receiver Jameel Owens possible departure from the team. He did not participate in spring drills, and it was finally confirmed by TU last week that he would not return for his junior season. Owens transferred to Tulsa from the University of Oklahoma in January 2010 and was granted a full transfer waiver to be eligible immediately. He left OU to be closer to his ill mother in his hometown of Muskogee. Last season, Owens caught 18 passes for 246 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games for the Hurricane.
• Back-up defensive back Chris Ford, who started out as a wide receiver at Tulsa, expects to graduate in May and will forego his final year of eligibility. Ford redshirted in 2007, played sparingly in six games during the 2008 season and in the first four games of 2009. He also saw time in nine games as a junior in 2010. The athletic department produced a video blog starring Ford in 2010, titled "On Board with Ford."
• Offensive lineman Brandon Thomas was dismissed from the Tulsa football team just before the Hurricane played in the Hawaii Bowl last season. The 6-foot-5 and 296-pound tackle would have been a senior this season. He played in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 before blossoming into a starter in the final 10 games of the 2009 season. During 2010, Thomas started at right tackle in the first four games and then backed up Brian DeShane in eight games before being dismissed.
• Defensive back Brion James saw time as a true freshman this past season, but transferred to Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi before the spring semester. The 2010 Tulsa signee will now be a 2012 junior college prospect, hoping to transfer back out to a Division I school.
• 6-foot-3 and 275-pound offensive lineman Brian Mincher from Jenks, Oklahoma, did not return to the team after the fall semester. He enrolled at TU in the spring of 2010 after grayshirting.
• Wide receiver A.Z. Moyer, a freshman from Tulsa (OK) Cascia Hall, will remain with the football program but is physically unable to continue his football career.
• Five of last season's freshmen walk-on athletes have decided not to return: DB Dalton Burchett (Pryor, OK); QB Jacobe Green (Humble, TX); LB Chris Hummingbird (Tahlequah, OK); TE Travis Burmaster (Shenendehowah, NY); LB Jerod Gates (Salina, OK).
• Sophomore Tony Peoples was recruited to play defensive back and was listed at that position when he redshirted in 2009. He made the shift to wide receiver last spring, but ended up playing in the defensive secondary in eight games during 2010. This spring, he moved to his natural running back position, where he totaled 4,187 rushing yards and a school record 33 touchdowns at The Colony High School in Texas. In Tulsa's past two spring scrimmages, the 5-foot-11 athlete has rushed seven times for 47 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run.
• Defensive back DeAundre Brown returns for his junior season after sitting out last year, and he is making a slight position change. The standout strong safety is leading the pack for the starting role at Cane linebacker, a hybrid spot that blends the linebacker and safety positions. As a freshman and sophomore, Brown played in 23 games with 18 starts, compiling 158 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, two pass break-ups and one fumble recovery. He was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team in 2008 and then led TU in tackles (102) in 2009.
• Sophomore defensive back DeWitt Jennings is also competing at Cane linebacker. He played cornerback and safety as a true freshman, seeing action in 12 games.
• Walk-on Samuel Crabtree has transitioned from defensive back to wide receiver and has already made an impact in the spring. In Tulsa's second spring scrimmage, he caught two passes for seven yards. He followed that up with a team-leading 39 receiving yards in the third scrimmage on two catches, including a 30-yard touchdown reception.
• With the move to a four-man front, Tulsa's former nose guards have made the natural transition to defensive tackle. Junior Derrick Jackson and senior Darrell Zellars have made a major impact this spring and are the current starters in the middle of the defensive front.
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