The third day of September holds a special place in the memory of those around the University of Texas at San Antonio football program. It was on that day in 2011 that UTSA played its first football game, defeating Northeastern State 31-3 before 56,743 at the Alamodome.

It remains the largest crowd to see a school’s inaugural game in NCAA history.

On Saturday, UTSA will begin its 12th season by welcoming the University of Houston Cougars, ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press preseason poll, to the Alamodome.

Not since the lead-up to that first game has the city of San Antonio seemed as energized about a UTSA season opener. Last season’s magical run to a 12-2 record has certainly helped the Roadrunners work their way into the hearts and minds of the city.

With a team like Houston (12-2 in 2021) coming to town, this is the best chance UTSA has had in years to draw a crowd of 50,000 or more since that inaugural game.

“We have a good team, but this is undoubtedly our toughest schedule since I’ve gotten here,” UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor said. “It’s an exciting schedule if you’re a fan. What a great game to start it off with — they’ve done such a great job there at Houston.”

The Houston game will be the first of three tough games for the Roadrunners to start the 2022 season. After hosting the Cougars, the Roadrunners will travel to West Point to face the Army Black Knights on Sept. 10 and then travel to Austin on Sept. 17 for a first-ever game against the University of Texas Longhorns. UTSA will close out its nonconference schedule on Sept. 24 with a home game against Texas Southern.

“You got to look at it as a great opportunity,” Traylor said. “What a great opportunity we have against top-25 Houston, arguably a top-25 Army and arguably a top-25 Texas.”

Jeff Traylor, UTSA's head coach, is preparing his team for the season opener set for Saturday, Sept. 3, against the University of Houston.
Jeff Traylor, UTSA’s head coach, is preparing his team for the season opener set for Saturday, Sept. 3, against the University of Houston. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

UTSA opens conference play on the road against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 30. The Roadrunners’ first home conference game will be Oct. 8 when they welcome Western Kentucky to the Alamodome for the first time since the conference championship game last December.

This season will be the Roadrunners’ 10th and final one in Conference USA. UTSA will join the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2023.

All 12 of UTSA’s games will be televised this season. For the full schedule, click here.


At quarterback, Frank Harris returns for a final season. After passing for a school-record 3,177 yards last season, Harris is close to reaching the top of the UTSA career list for quarterbacks. He needs 1,660 yards to pass Eric Soza and eight touchdowns to pass Dalton Sturm in the UTSA record books. Harris has his top three receiving targets returning: Zakhari Franklin, De’Corian Clark and Joshua Cephus.

The Roadrunner offense will have to replace the school’s all-time leading rusher, Sincere McCormick, and lineman Spencer Burford. At running back, the Roadrunners will go with a committee approach. Brenden Brady, who returns at running back, and Arkansas transfer Trelon Smith likely will be the leaders of that committee.

Also returning on offense is tight end Oscar Cardenas. Cardenas, formerly of Brandeis High School, earned hero status last season when he caught the winning touchdown pass in a 34-31 thriller over the University of Alabama-Birmingham. That touchdown clinched UTSA’s spot in the conference championship game.

“I got all these compliments, but it’s not about me. It’s a team effort,” Cardenas said. “I’ve been trying to get stronger and faster in the offseason.”

As the Roadrunners adjust their offense to the post-McCormick era, there could be more opportunities for the tight ends such as Cardenas.


UTSA’s defense has had to replace more players from last season than the offense, having lost defensive linemen Lorenzo Dantzler and Jaylon Haynes. UTSA will have a deep pool of talent to draw from on this season’s defensive line between returning players like Lamonte McDougle and Christian Clayton and newcomers like Joe Evans and Nick Booker-Brown.

A member of the 2019 LSU team that won the national championship, Evans was close to jumping to the Houston Cougars before an official visit to UTSA changed his mind.

“I was going to UH and then UTSA called me. UH had stopped talking to me for a while so I came here to visit UTSA,” Evans said.  

Evans visited while Traylor was on vacation, so UTSA Athletic Director Lisa Campos and President Taylor Eighmy filled in as tour guides.

“I had never had a one-on-one like that before,” Evans said. “Being here it felt like home to me. I had to come visit it and see for myself what it was like.”

The linebackers will be anchored by experienced veterans Trevor Harmanson and Jamal Ligon. A newcomer to look for is Cameron Wilkins. Wilkins transferred to UTSA from Missouri and after sitting out last season will get to play for the Roadrunners this season.

In the defensive backfield, the Roadrunners return safety Rashad Wisdom. He’ll be joined by returning players such as Kelechi Nwachuku and Corey Mayfield Jr. UTSA’s defensive backfield has two newcomers who transferred from power-five schools. Nicktroy Fortune comes to UTSA from West Virginia and Pig Cage comes to UTSA from LSU.  

Special teams

Returning this season is punter Lucas Dean, who has averaged 43.8 yards per punt and has landed more than a third of his punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line in his previous three seasons. UTSA will have to replace kicker Hunter Duplessis, who graduated. Duplessis was the first kicker in UTSA history to make 50 field goals in his career, a school record.

Filling the shoes of Duplessis will likely be Jared Sackett, who was the Roadrunners’ kicker in 2017 before transferring to Arkansas. Sackett also played at South Florida before returning to UTSA via the transfer portal this offseason.

Stephen Whitaker has been covering UTSA athletics since the fall of 2008. He is a 2013 graduate of UTSA.