Assessing the Bulls' preseason depth chart
For at least the short term -- until Monday at 10 a.m., to be precise -- USF's preseason depth chart is set. Based on what we learned during spring practices and summer workouts, it features few tweaks and fewer bombshells.
And it all could be overhauled by the end of the month anyway, especially if some of the incoming freshmen perform as hoped.
But while we trudge through the summer's handful of remaining dog days, it's fun to dissect. Here are a few initial observations.
* Among the glaring absences is senior RB Michael Pierre, who ran for 73 yards in the Bulls' spring game. According to USF, Pierre had to give up football due to neck- and spinal cord-related injuries. Sophomore Darius Tice, the Bulls' top returning rusher (35 carries, 141 yards), is atop the depth chart for now. Meantime, junior Willlie Davis (39 carries, 139 yards) has transferred to Tennessee Tech.
* Thor Jozwiak, who missed all of 2013 with a heart condition, re-asserted himself this past spring and is listed as the starter at left guard (Could there be a more inspiring opening-week story if he's still the starter entering the Western Carolina game?). His return has set off somewhat of a domino effect: Brynjar Gudmundsson, the incumbent at left guard, is listed as first-team right tackle and senior Quinterrius Eatmon slides inside to first-team right guard.
* Hardly surprising to see senior Elkino Watson slide from defensive tackle to end. Watson (6-foot-2, 291 pounds) showed the ability to play on the edge -- where the Bulls had depth issues -- during spring drills.
* Former Robinson High star Bruce Hector, a redshirt freshman who logged first-team reps at times during the spring, currently is a second-team defensive tackle. And apparently, 313-pound Jesuit alumnus Cameron Ruff -- the second-team center -- is being groomed as the heir apparent to Austin Reiter.
* Of the early enrollees, only Pasco High alumnus Jamie Byrd -- a safety -- is listed as a first-teamer.
* After a breakthrough spring, we sort of had converted FB Auggie Sanchez tabbed as DeDe Lattimore's heir at middle linebacker. For now, he's listed second behind rangy junior Tashon Whitehurst.
* As for the linebacker spots in general, we see those positions -- and tailback -- as most vulnerable to the emergence of freshmen. While we don't project anyone unseating SLB Reshard Cliett or WLB Nigel Harris, we project freshmen to emerge in backup roles and eventually challenge Whitehurst and Sanchez in the middle.
* Watch for redshirt freshman Deadrin Senat (6-1, 300), a second-team defensive tackle, to become a fixture in the rotation if the Bulls remain with a four-man front. Senat's strength is off the charts, senior Todd Chandler says.