According to Alex Halsted at Scout and Rob Gray at Cyclone Fanatic, Paul Rhoads has announced the dismissal of safety T.J. Mutcherson from the football team. Additionally, TE Alex Leslie, WR Damien Lawry, and OL Duaron Williams are electing to transfer.
This should not come as a shock to anyone who frequents this blog or any other Cyclone news site. Mutcherson found himself in trouble late last season after stopping practice with a meltdown that centered on the abilities of the coaching staff and was never able to find himself out of the doghouse.
Mutcherson's formal dismissal comes on the heels of P.J. Harris' arrest and news that he was dismissed as of January 13th. Counting seniors, this is now 21 members of the 2014 Cyclone football team that will not be returning to the 2015 squad.
Of the dismissals and transfers only Williams and Leslie failed to see meaningful playing time last year and the once deep wide receiver position has now lost three players from last year's squad and the tight end position lost the man who was deemed the heir apparent to E.J. Bibbs' role in the offense.
Under normal circumstances we would say this is just another tire to add on to the fire, but we're not sure the fire and its tires can burn any hotter under Rhoads' seat than it already is.
On the bright side, there is some depth to absorb at least the loss of Mutcherson. His counterpart, Kamari Cotton-Moya is coming off a Freshman All-American quality season. Mutcherson's backup, Darian Cotton, will enter his senior year in 2015 with a strong familiarity of the defense after having closed the 2014 season with two straight starts. Cotton is not a terrible choice at safety by any stretch, but Mutcherson's ability paired with his youth left him with a high ceiling that this defense will miss in 2015 and beyond.
The offensive losses can be absorbed with the loss of Lawry and Harris simply by the return of Quenton Bundrage. Bundrage is a known All Big XII commodity, and fellow receivers Allen Lazard and D'Vario Montgomery will round out the top part of the group. With Tad Ecby having a strong finish to the season and Jauan Welsey putting the pieces together the receivers should be fine at the top. If there's any worry offensively it will be at the tight end spot. Bibbs wasn't the most accomplished blocker but he was much stronger than Ben Boesen in that area, and Leslie was supposed to be the man that filled the gap.
It was already likely after Bibbs' graduation, but with Leslie's departure be prepared for even more spreading out of opponents' defenses and a strong commitment to passing in lieu of a physical running game.
When Rhoads took over this program he talked specifically to recruiting misses and that it wasn't the lack of talent that hurt a team, but the players that earned scholarships that never contributed or elected to transfer after using valuable resources. It's unfortunate now that his remarks from five years ago seem to have predicted this program's future.