With the loss of key players, opportunities abound for the next group of ‘Cats to make their mark in 2022
Adversity in multiple forms such as a summer head coaching change and multiple early-season injuries to the interior line contributed to the ‘Cats overall offensive woes in 2021, where Ohio finished 10th in the MAC in scoring, averaging 22.6 points per contest.
With a track record of offensive coaching success and an offseason to re-evaluate, Ohio looks to re-establish itself as one of the MAC’s top scoring threats.
In order to do that, Ohio will need some familiar faces to step up and some new faces to show up.
Here are some of those candidates for the 2022 season.
The QB discussion starts with Kurtis Rourke, who, in his fourth year with the program, looks poised to take his game to the next level.
After redshirting in 2019 and starting three games in COVID-shortened 2020, Rourke had his most significant on-field action in 2021, splitting time with Armani Rogers over a 12 game season.
With Rogers graduating and moving on to the Washington Commanders as a tight end prospect, Rourke figures to get the opportunity to expand his playing time and there were signs last year he has what it takes to lead the Bobcats back to bowling or possibly even Detriot for the MAC championship.
Kurtis Rourke showed at times last season, especially in the MAC part of the schedule, that he has a dual-threat, skill-set which Ohio can use to take down opponents. In part time duty, Rouke hit on some designed runs and scrambles, finishing the 2021 campaign with 327 yards rushing and three scores while also throwing for four-straight 200+-yard games.
There a few other dual-threat QBs on the roster who could see some time this fall. Three-star QB CJ Harris enters his third season in the program and showed his ability to deliver by ground or air in high school, throwing for over 3,000 career yards while racking up over 1,000 rushing.
Parker Navarro appeared in four games for UCF last year, where he ran for three scores and 54 yards before transferring to Ohio for 2022.
The Bobcats have found a lot of success over the years with a multiple-back attack and this year looks no different as there are a number of options.
O’Shaan Allison figures to get some run as a proven Veteran and do-it-all back, with over 1,500 career combined yards rushing and receiving and 7 scores. Allison has shown he is capable of shouldering a significant load if the situation warrants, with 869 yards rushing in his redshirt freshman year.
With the loss of De’Montre Tuggle to the Chicago Bears as an UDFA, promising redshirt freshman Sieh Bangura should get a shot to make a bigger impact in 2022. Bangura’s Bobcat career started with a bang on a 40-yard touchdown scamper on his first career carry. While the sample size of 17 touches in 2021 is small, Bangura flashed talent as a runner and receiver, finishing with 161 yards in 2021.
After missing most of 2021, Senior Julian Ross returns and figures to bolster the running game while being fully capable of taking over the kickoff return duties for Tuggle as Ross has almost 600 career return yards and a TD.
Wide receivers and tight ends
Change creates opportunity and perhaps no spot on the roster has more in 2022 than this group.
Heading into 2022, Ohio lost several starters and contributors including WR Isiah Cox and Jerome Buckner to the transfer portal and WR Cam Odom and TEs Ryan and Adam Luehrman to graduation.
Also, Rice transfer August Pitre III figured to be in the mix in 2022 but ultimately signed on at Southern University. Despite the losses, Ohio has multiple talented players with a chance to establish or expand their roles.
WR Tyler Walton returns with the most career Ohio production with 53 catches for 586 yards. Walton had 32 receptions last year and has an opportunity to do more in 2022.
Ohio was high on true freshman WR Miles Cross in 2021 as he appeared in 12 games with at least one reception in eight of those games. Cross will come into 2022 looking to build on a first-year campaign.
2021 Vanderbilt tranfser WR James Bostic logged just 5 catches for 34 yards for the ‘Cats in 2021 but Bostic has very good size at about 6’3”, 225 pounds and, with a full Bobcat offseason under his belt, will have a chance to show he can be one of the team’s on-field leaders.
The Bobcats also made some moves in the offseason to bolster the competition in the WR room, adding Ohio State transfer Sam Wiglusz and JUCO standout Jacoby Jones (career 63 receptions for almost 1,000 yards).
Ohio also signed true freshman WR Rodney Harris II, the highest rated Bobcat recruit in 2022 according to 247Sports.
With the graduation of the Luehrman twins, Ohio will have some big shoes to fill at TE. One answer should be Alec Burton, who appeared in all 12 games last season, with 7 catches for 54 yards. Also figure highly-touted TE Tyler Foster to get his shot. Foster enters his fourth season as a Bobcat and is Ohio’s fourth all-time rated prospect since 2002 according to 247Sports.
In our next post, we take a look at Ohio’s O-line for 2022.