BELTON, Texas- With 10 days until kickoff, the 2021 UMHB football roster was released on Wednesday afternoon, featuring 234 players.
52 players on the roster are returning varsity players from the spring season, while the rest of the roster is made of up first-year freshmen, transfers, junior varsity players from the spring, as well as a few returners who previously played for the Cru but were not listed on the spring roster.
Nine offensive starters and 10 defensive starters from the spring return, with the only departures being center Steven Sellers and receiver Kadarius Daniels on the offense, who both graduated, and cornerback Drake Johnson, who is now on Texas State’s roster.
In addition, the majority of players who saw significant action in the spring are back on the roster, though linebackers Nicholas McDaniel and Eli Huron are no longer with the program, a UMHB spokesperson confirmed. McDaniel played at least one snap in all five games during the spring, tallying seven tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. Huron also played in all five contests, recording three tackles.
It should be noted that the Cru bring back multiple players who spent time in the program in previous years but were not listed on the spring roster.
Perhaps the most notable of that group is Aaron Sims, a 2018 D3football.com All-American who led the nation with five punt return touchdowns. Sims was out in 2019 due to an injury, and was not on the roster in 2020 either. His return will elevate the Cru’s return game, as 2020-21 ASC Special Teams Player of the Year K.J. Miller is also on the roster. Miller averaged 22.6 yards per kick return during the spring. Head coach Pete Fredenburg had spoken about Sims in a radio interview last week, noting that “both are capable of breaking a ballgame open.” Sims is entering his senior season. As a wide receiver in 2018, the Cameron, Texas native had 32 catches for 373 yards.
Running back Justin Theriot, who played in four games during the 2019 season but was not on the 2020 roster, returns, adding experience to what was a young running backs unit last season. On 48 attempts in 2019, Theriot rushed for 212 yards, scoring three touchdowns. Theriot will enter his senior season, having opened his collegiate career at the junior college level.
Running back Aphonso Thomas was on UMHB’s roster as recently as the fall of 2020, but was not listed on the spring season roster. Thomas, who last played in a game in 2017 at Trinity Valley Community College, was an all-state honoree while at Van High School. During his senior year of high school in 2015, the former three-star back ran for 1,568 yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games. In fact, he was ranked as the No. 20 running back in the Lone Star State by Scout.com in 2015, having received offers from Nebraska, Nevada, Colorado State and Kansas before heading to SMU, where he redshirted one season. Thomas is listed as a junior on UMHB’s roster.
The Cru also added a group of transfers who were not previously announced during the summer, including defensive end Samuel Johnson. Johnson, a 6’5, 215 lb standout from Crestview, Florida, last played at Kilgore Junior College in 2018, before sitting out each of the last two seasons. Coming out of Kilgore, he had a Div. I offer from UAB, after tallying 24 tackles and four sacks in 2017. He will be a junior for the Cru this season.
Also on defense is Josh McDade, who began his collegiate career at Texas State, but never saw the field for the Bobcats. The 6’1, 240 lb linebacker was VYPE Magazine’s Linebacker of the Year in 2016 after finishing his prep career at Cypress Ridge High School in Houston. McDade is listed as a freshman, though he did spend four years at Texas State (not all as a player within the football program).
Anthony Clayton joins a skilled defensive line group, as the junior defensive tackle comes to UMHB by way of Southwestern Community College. The East Bay, Florida native played at the junior college level during the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons. As a sophomore, the 6’0, 280 lb Clayton posted 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 11 games. He will be a junior at UMHB.
Damarius Isaac, a defensive end from Cisco College, also transferred to UMHB after sitting out last season. The 6’2, 240 lb Arlington, Texas native played in seven games in 2019, tallying eight tackles, one forced fumble and one sack. He is listed a sophomore on UMHB’s roster.
Adding to the depth at wide receiver, Jalen Sheperd transferred in from Arkansas Baptist (NJCAA). A native of Leesville, Louisiana, Sheperd spent one year in the junior college ranks, seeing the field in three games with one reception. He is a freshman this season, as all junior college players were given an additional year of eligibility last year.
UMHB opens the season on Sept. 4 in a home non-conference game against Simpson College.