Starting today, we'll examine the most interesting position battles entering USF's spring practice, which begins Monday.
First up: center. (On deck: interior defensive line)
2017 starter: Cameron Ruff
Ruff started 24 games at the position over the past two seasons, earning the team's Offensive Lineman of the Year award in '16. (Quick, name the last time you recall seeing a faulty shotgun snap from Ruff to Quinton Flowers). On his two-year watch, the Bulls amassed 6,878 rushing yards. While a bulk of the credit for that total goes to the runners themselves (i.e. Quinton Flowers, Marlon Mack, etc.), it's not as if Ruff was a sedentary snapper with no blocking chops. He also happened to be arguably the team's most outstanding citizen (and co-president of USF's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee).
2018 starter? While the world waits to see who takes the first snap of spring practice (Brett Kean? Chris Oladokun?), junior Brooks Larkin likely makes it. Immortalized on Twitter for doing a sideline split during the Birmingham Bowl, Larkin has appeared in eight career games and was listed as Ruff's backup last season (though Ruff rarely exited). Michael Galati, who actually started the first two games at center last season (to the shock of many), had a year of eligibility remaining but has graduated and moved on. We wouldn't be stunned if redshirt sophomore Michael Wiggs, projected as a center out of Lake Gibson High, got a serious look. Wiggs was the first-team right guard in the first padded practice of the 2017 preaseason before being hampered by an unspecified injury and playing only two games, but coaches love his football IQ. USF signed a projected center, St. Johns Bartram Trail's Brad Cecil, but at 275 pounds (per his Hudl page) he's likely destined for a redshirt season. Whomever gets the job isn't going to waltz into it. Offensive line coach Matt Mattox loves creating competition, and mixing/matching his lineups.
Get you a lineman who can do both. pic.twitter.com/h61Qqakatn— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 23, 2017