A Vikings Fan’s Viewing Guide to CFB: Tulsa Looks to Emerge in 2022

Nov 6, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane cornerback Tyon Davis (0) reacts after safety TieNeal Martin (7) broke up a pass intended for Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Alec Pierce (12) in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Just like the NFL season is fast approaching, we are nearing the day where college football teams will arrive on campus and begin their own preseason work. As a self-proclaimed NFL Draft nerd, I get almost as excited for the college football season as I do for the NFL season. Because of that, I am putting together guides for many of the notable college football programs ahead of the 2022 season. Whether you’re a seasoned college football viewer, or just getting into it for the first time, there is something here for everyone. After a brief weekend hiatus, we are back on our tour of the AAC with the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes.

Overview

Tulsa got off to a very tough start in 2021, losing four of their first five games. This stretch of games included a 45-10 shellacking by the Houston Cougars. The Golden Hurricanes quickly found their stride though and closed the season by winning six of their last eight games. The only losses were a three-point loss to Navy and an eight-point loss to the #2 ranked team in the nation, the Cincinnati Bearcats. Heading into 2022, Tulsa hopes to continue the momentum from the conclusion of 2021 and their Myrtle Beach Bowl victory over Old Dominion.

2022 NFL Draft Prospects

  • OT Tyler Smith, Round 1 Pick 24, Dallas Cowboys
  • G Chris Paul, Round 7 Pick 230, Washington Commanders

Notable Transfers In

  • OT Darrell Simpson (Oklahoma)
  • G Broday Wiscarver (Illinois)

Notable Transfers Out

  • DL Jaxon Player

2022 Schedule

  • 9/3 @ Wyoming
  • 9/10 vs. Northern Illinois
  • 9/17 vs. Jacksonville State
  • 9/24 @ Ole Miss
  • 10/1 vs. Cincinnati
  • 10/8 @ Navy
  • 10/21 @ Temple
  • 10/29 vs. SMU
  • 11/5 vs. Tulane
  • 11/10 @ Memphis
  • 11/18 vs. South Florida
  • 11/26 @ Houston

Keys to 2022

Weathering the Storm

Once again, Tulsa finds themselves with a schedule including both Cincinnati and Houston. This time around it might be even more difficult of a matchup as their matchup with the Cougars comes in the regular season finale. They also could find some trouble with any of Navy, SMU, or Memphis again.

2022 is all about weathering these difficult matchups for Tulsa. If they win the games that they are supposed to, and at least keep things close with Cincinnati and Houston, they should find themselves in favor with the committee when bowl season rolls around.

Rebuilding the Trenches

2022 marked the first three-year stretch since 1992-94 in which the Golden Hurricanes have had players drafted into the NFL in consecutive years. This spring, two of their offensive linemen went pro in Tyler Smith and Chris Paul. Then on the other side of the trenches, Jaxon Player left the program for the Baylor Bears.

On the offensive side of the ball, Tulsa has turned to the transfer portal to rebuild their offensive line and keep QB Davis Brin upright. Offensive tackle Darrell Simpson will spend his redshirt senior season in Tulsa after transferring from the Oklahoma Sooners while Brody Wiscarver heads in from Illinois to take a guard position. These additions will be critical if Tulsa hopes to compete with the big dogs of the AAC.

My “Purple Player to Watch”

Prior to training camp even beginning, many Vikings fans have a favorite prospect from the 2022 draft class. That player is cornerback Akayleb Evans. Evans spent four years with the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes before transferring to Missouri ahead of the 2021 season.

This move allowed former JUCO player Tyon Davis to step into the spotlight and shine. In his first year as a starter, Davis 10 pass defenses and had the fourth-most solo tackles in the AAC with 59. Another campaign like that one should certainly put him in the conversation for a mid-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, if not higher.

The Minnesota Vikings have an emerging group of defensive backs that could be future stars in the NFL if all goes right. However, what they don’t necessarily have is someone who can consistently be a lockdown slot guy. Between Evans and a potential selection of Davis, the former Tulsa Golden Hurricanes teammates could combine forces once again to fill that role in Minnesota.