Outgoing SMDR sports editor Joe Vozzelli's five (bold) predictions for the upcoming year

Just My Type

By now, most of you know that today is my final day at the San Marcos Daily Record.

But, before I leave you, I figured I'd come up with five predictions, some of which are bold, for the upcoming year. Here goes:

1. The Rattlers will challenge Bowie for the district title in football. 
In its preseason prognostications for District 14-6A, Dave Campbell's Texas Football had Austin-Bowie as the champion of the league followed by San Marcos. 

I agree with DCTF. 

In fact, don't be surprised if the Nov. 4 game between the Rattlers and Bulldogs inside Toyota Rattler Stadium decides who will be the district winner. Get your tickets now, San Marcos. 

2. Texas State will do better in football than most people think.
I get that the bar is set low — really low. The Bobcats, after all, according to the Sun Belt's preseason coaches poll, are the tenth best team in the league. The SBC only has 11 teams. 

Texas State will prove those coaches wrong by going 5-7. How? The Bobcats beat Ohio in the season opener on Sept. 3 and secure victories over Incarnate Word, Louisiana-Monroe, Idaho and New Mexico State. If that happens, Texas State should hold on to what figures to be its best-ever Football Bowl Subdivision recruiting class. Bonus prediction: Expect Tyler Tutt to be the freshman of the year in the Sun Belt. 

3. Danny Kaspar's team will post a winning record in 2016-2017.
A men's basketball team at Texas State hasn't finished the season above .500 since 2005 (14-13 record). 

The streak ends. 

Sure, the Bobcats lost their best shooter (read: Ethan Montalvo) and top offensive player (read: Emani Gant) who both exhausted their eligibility. But, Kaspar thinks Texas State signed its best recruiting class during his tenure this offseason. And that's not coach speak. 

Among the newcomers, Maxwell Starwood is an impact player, and Tyler Blount was actually a better shooter than Montalvo was at the junior college level. 

In the case of the returners, point guard Ojai Black found his game during the latter half of last season when he was more aggressive on the offensive end, while at the same time, averaging 6.1 assists across the final eight contests of his junior campaign. Kavin Gilder-Tilbury is the perfect stretch forward for the Bobcats new four out, one in offense. The rising senior was 37.6 percent on three-point attempts last season.  

4. Texas State softball will knock off Louisiana-Lafayette for the league crown.
Okay, I'm going way out on a limb. 

It would be easier to tell you how many times the Ragin Cajuns haven't won a Sun Belt title in the past 16 years than to list each championship one-by-one. During that stretch, UL Lafayette wasn't the SBC champions in 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2015. The other 12 years? The Cajuns were crowned SBC champions.

UL Lafayette shelled Texas State 12-0 during May's conference tournament title game. 

The Bobcats have an ace (Randi Rupp), and that's a difference maker. Texas State must rediscover its offense (.290 team average and 59 homers in 2015 compared to .256 team average and 32 homers in 2016). With the additions of transfers Kennedy Cline (Ole Miss) and Phoenix College slugger Sierra Steimel and burgeoning talents Ariel Ortiz, Corrina Liscano, Taylor Webb and Jaelyn Young, an offensive turnaround is in order. 

5. Tyler Jones will join Bradley George and Barrick Nealy on the Mount Rushmore of Texas State quarterbacks in 2016.  
Let's be clear: Tyler Jones will be the quarterback this fall. Everett Withers has called the battle between Jones and incoming graduate transfer Eddie Printz an open competition, but the incumbent is better prepared to win the job. There is one thing that Jones has that Printz doesn't and that's experience. Printz threw one pass in two seasons at Missouri. Jones has attempted quite a bit more (909 to be exact).

Many around the program don't hold Jones in the same esteem as Bradley George and Barrick Nealy. And rightfully so as both have championship rings (Nealy in 2005 and George in 2008).

Jones, barring a huge surprise, won't have a title on his resume. But, with a strong senior year (2,123 total yards and 19 total touchdowns in 2016), he'd be the Bobcats' all-time leader in both categories.

Maybe it's about time to give the Stephenville product his due.

Joe Vozzelli was the sports editor at the San Marcos Daily Record since January 2014. He is moving to the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune.

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