The Houston Cougar football team opened camp on Friday, with the season opener against Texas State now less than a month away, and expectations on Cullen Boulevard higher than they've been in many, many years.
Andrea Adelson of ESPN had a write-up to mark the occasion, with some nuggets on the upcoming season. Adelson mentions Isaiah Thompson's switch from the defensive to the offensive line, the possible impact of newcomers Sammy Brown and Matangi Tonga, and the changes at the coordinators.
The highlight of Adelson's article, however, is coach Kevin Sumlin's quote on expectations.
Our guys know what the expectations are. We've expected to compete for the conference championship from the first day I got here. Hopefully, that conversation will continue every year. We're not running from that. Our guys have been in big games and realize that. We're not going to approach it much differently than we have since we first got here.
Steve Campbell of the Chron also has an article on the opening of camp, chipping in with some notes on personnel moves.
Highly-touted wide receiver recruit Jordan Jolly has apparently become an academic casualty, as has been rumored, and will be attending Navarro College. Even with the premature departures of L.J. Castile and A.J. Dugat, and now the loss of Jolly, the Cougars remain loaded at wide receiver both in the short- and long-term. Houston returns three receivers who topped 1,000 yards a year ago, and incoming freshmen DeAndre Perry and Darian Lazard look like future stars.
Sophomore safety Jeffery Lewis will be moving to running back, where he will provide some depth after the loss of Charles Sims for the year. Junior Bryce Beall will be the starter, true freshman Xavier Brown has drawn rave reviews from teammates and is expected to be the primary backup, and Lewis will split the remainder of the reps with sophomore Chris Wilson and junior utilityman Justin Johnson.
Campbell also quotes strength and conditioning coach Larry Jackson, who leads the team's summer workouts, and likes what he has seen so far.
We have more team chemistry than we've have since I've been here. We have more leadership than we've had since I've been here. I see some guys who are realizing how special we can be.
The expectations of a 'special' season abound. Last year, the Cougars built up expectations by beating the likes of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, but couldn't always handle the added pressure that came along with those expectations, suffering unlikely losses at the hands of UTEP and Central Florida. This year, that pressure will be there from day one. How will this version of the Cougars handle the pressure? We're about to find out.