The Tulsa Golden Hurricane enters the 2012 season with high expectations. Coming off an 8-5 regular season in which all four regular season losses came against AP Top-10 teams there is reason to believe that the Hurricane could even improve upon that impressive mark this season.
TU returns six offensive starters and seven starters on defense. So while a majority of starters will be back, there will be some holes that need to be filled.
The following five newcomers should make an instant impact on TU in 2012:
#1: Quarterback Cody Greene.
With the departure of starter G.J. Kinne, Tulsa's QB position for 2012 was up in the air. Landing the 6-foot-4 quarterback from Nebraska was huge for head coach Bill Blakenship, as Greene not only has playing experience, but starting experience at one of the top football programs in the country. Since arriving, Greene impressed the TU coaches and won the job fairly easily. Expect big things from Greene this season.
#2: Kicker Daniel Schwarz:
The Lawton, Okla. native will start as a true freshman. Schwarz, one of the top kicker recruits in the country, will replace TU's all-time leading scorer Kevin Fitzpatrick. There is no doubt that Schwarz has the skills, but kicker is a tough position, especially for a true freshman. Schwarz's reliability and consistency will be keys for TU in 2012.
#3: Offensive Tackle Blake Belcher:
The Guthrie, Okla. native is Tulsa's top offensive line recruit for 2012. The three-star tackle should immediately compete for reps in the o-line rotation. Specifically, keep an eye on the left tackle position where TU will have to replace Tyler Holmes. From all accounts, Blakenship has been very impressed with Belcher, and it seems likely that Belcher will be the backup to fifth-year senior Jared Grigg.
#4: Defensive End Damian Gibson:
Gibson comes to TU as a three star recruit from East Central High. Gibson has a nice combination of strength and length, and should immediately join the rotation at defensive end. Similar to Belcher, Gibson should be a strong candidate to become a starter at some point in the case of injuries. The Hurricane will need Gibson to be ready to go as they attempt to replace the strong production of Tyrunn Walker.
#5: Running Back James Flanders:
Flanders is the younger brother of senior CB John Flanders, so other than taking the occasional ribbing from big brother, he should fit in nicely. The Midwest City grad ran for nearly 2500 yards and 44 touchdowns as a senior. Yes, you read that correctly: 44 touchdowns in one season. TU already has good depth at RB, but he's a special talent and whenever he does get reps, look for big things from Flanders.
Keep an eye out on newson6.com's sports page, because later this week I will release the game-by-game breakdown of Tulsa's season and give my prediction of where the Hurricane will finish.
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