Above photo of Romello Cook by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- As the 2021 football season draws closer for UMHB, the roster is becoming clearer, especially on offense.
Based on research done by True To The Cru, it has been confirmed that 10 of UMHB’s 11 starters from the ASC championship game will return. The only departure is center Steven Sellers, who graduated this spring after starting at center for three years. He was also an AP Second Team All-American in 2019, and a three-time All-ASC honoree.
Quarterback Kyle King, who took over as the starter for the final two games of the spring campaign, but played in a total of four games, will be coming back as the leading candidate to start under center. King was named True To The Cru’s Offensive Player of the Year this spring, going 33-for-61 passing, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added 181 yards on the ground with six rushing touchdowns.
Tommy Bowden, who should also compete for the quarterback job and began the spring as the starter, confirmed he will return for the 2021 season. Bowden was 29-for-65 passing for 287 yards during the Cru’s five-game schedule with five touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 253 yards.
At the receiver position, the Cru bring back plenty of talent to go along with a fantastic group of underclassmen and newcomers.
Kadarius Daniels, who graduated, and Caleb Eagans, who transferred to ETBU, are the only known departures. Daniels led the Cru with 227 receiving yards and four touchdowns this spring, and graduated in May.
KJ Miller, the speedy returner who led the Cru in receptions this spring, headlines the receiver group, as he started all five games with 20 receptions, 181 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Romello Cook, who established himself as a consistent target for UMHB’s quarterbacks during the final two games of the spring, will be a leading candidate for All-ASC honors this fall, based on what we saw from him in the abbreviated 2020-21 season. He tallied eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
At the slot receiver position, Brandon Jordan and Brenton Martin are both committed to return for the fall. Martin, who will be a fifth-year senior, started five games, with eight receptions for 162 yards and two scores in the spring. Jordan, a junior, saw action in four games, using his 6’6 frame to his advantage in the red zone. He pulled down two touchdowns, and had four catches for 48 yards.
The running back unit will be one with limited depth and experience, as JUCO transfer Melek Hamilton is in the transfer portal after spending just one year in Belton. Montana Miller is expected to start, having put a hand injury behind him. Miller played in all five games, with 40 carries for 209 yards and one touchdown. Kenneth Cormier Jr. who was switched from linebacker to running back, showed his talent in the ASC title game, with a team-high 144 rushing yards and will compete for the starting job. Miller confirmed his intent to return, and Cormier Jr. is expected to be on the roster, though he did not immediately confirm his status entering this fall.
The entire offensive line, with the exception of Sellers, is set to return. A young, yet mature group in the spring, the offensive line will be integral to UMHB’s offensive performance. Sophomore Matt Sanders will likely step into a starting role at the center position, and the other four starting linemen from the ASC title game will also be back; Reuel Tandoh, Jesse Hoke, Jeffery Sims Jr., Ethan Ruckman. Additionally, each of the backups are also set to return, meaning the coaches should have no issues with depth. The list features John Kazmierski (LT), Wyatt Crawford (LG), and Lance Jones (RG). Kazmierski was also Ruckman’s backup at the right tackle position.
Rounding out the offense, tight end Gary Ruckman was honored on senior day this spring, but a source close to Ruckman said that, as of right now, he plans to return. Ruckman is a key weapon in UMHB’s passing game, and entering his sixth collegiate season, brings plenty of experience to a relatively young group. He did not play in 2018, so he still has two years of eligibility. During the spring, Ruckman started five games, with four catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, freshman Connor Mullins, who spent the spring as a backup to Ruckman, confirmed he will return. Mullins saw action in all five games, and logged one reception for 14 yards.
Next week, we will analyze UMHB’s defense for the 2021 season, giving you insight on what the two-deep depth chart will look like entering the fall before the roster is released.
UMHB opens its season in Belton on September 4 with a non-conference game against Simpson College.