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USF embarks on post-Quinton Flowers era

By Joey Knight
CHRIS URSO | TimesUSF quarterback Chris Oladokun prepares to throw the ball during practice at the school Monday, March 05, 2018 in Tampa.

TAMPA — Two hours into USF's 2018 spring drills, the quarterback derby hasn't been decided and the offensive identity — by all indications — hasn't been overhauled.

At this point, all fans can go on are the subtle signs — and sound bites — provided during the Bulls' inaugural spring workout, staged beneath a cloudless morning sky in sub-70-degree temperatures Monday.

Fourth-year junior Brett Kean and redshirt sophomore Chris Oladokun, vying to replace iconic three-year starter Quinton Flowers, appeared to share snaps with the first group during the 20-minute portion open to reporters.

While many envision the Bulls ultimately maximizing the pair's vertical passing chops, both did their share of scrambling and short throwing Monday.

"Quinton was just a different type of player; he had speed, quickness," coach Charlie Strong said.

"Whereas now you have with Brett and Oladokun, guys that can release it. But the good thing about it is, they're in the system now for two years and everything, so what is ever called … they're gonna know and they're gonna be able to adjust to it."

Strong hedged when asked if he'd like to emerge from spring practice with a starter, but said both "are gonna get a lot of reps."

"I think they're both confident in themselves," said senior Tyre McCants, the Bulls' top returning receiver (36 catches, seven touchdowns).

"They both know they've got to go out and compete every day. We are very confident in them, so seeing them come out, be confident, be confident in us as … just play makers, it's a good feeling."

POSITION SWAPS: A handful of Bulls veterans will get looks at different positions this spring, with nothing set in concrete, Strong said.

Senior Chris Barr, whose role was minimized at wideout last season, is now at cornerback; junior reserve Marlon Gonzalez has moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard; and converted S Khalid McGee continues getting a look at linebacker. McGee slid into the box late in the '17 season.

Chris Barr in green defense jersey, practicing at DB this spring #USF pic.twitter.com/Chc7zgdeGp

— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) March 5, 2018

"The good thing about spring, it gives you an opportunity to move guys around and give guys a look," Strong said. "Come out to the next practice, we may move some more around just to see where we are, just see where they can help the football team."

NEW-LOOK LINE: With two 2017 starters (Jeremi Hall, Cameron Ruff) gone and senior LT Eric Mayes recovering from offseason knee surgery, the Bulls' offensive line remains in flux for now.

Redshirt sophomore Michael Wiggs — a center at Lake Gibson High — and junior Brooks Larkin logged reps at center, with redshirt freshman (and former Jefferson High standout) Jean Marcellus even making a few snaps after Wiggs left early for a class.

The first-team group (at least late in practice) appeared to be Larkin, RG Billy Atterbury, RT Marcus Norman, LG Demetris Harris and LT Grant Polk.

"Mayes will be okay," Strong said. "We went in and cleaned up his knee, so if he doesn't get back in the spring he'll be ready to go this fall."

Related: USF spring preview: Ruff's job? Someon's got to do it

ODDS AND ENDS: Veteran S Jaymon Thomas intercepted a a deep Oladokun throw in the end zone late in practice. … Redshirt sophomore Andre Polk, projected as a possible candidate to replace MLB Auggie Sanchez, ran some post-practice sprints, albeit with a brace on his left knee. The injury limited Polk to three games last season. "Polk's still got a ways to go," Strong said. … DE Greg Reaves was among those rehabbing on the side, though he sported neither a cast nor brace. … Strong said Duke transfer DT Brandon Boyce, whose status has been a source of speculation lately, remains with the team. Strong didn't get into details on Boyce's status, and said he's unsure if he'll join the Bulls for spring practice. … McCants, one of the American Athletic Conference's biggest receivers last season (listed at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds) said he added even more muscle over the winter. "I feel good, feel explosive still," he said. "I'm just excited."

That's Polk (#12) in what appears to be a brace. But he's running around #USF pic.twitter.com/T6YzXwkfCF

— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) March 5, 2018