Another batch of new Bulls
College football teams are allowed to carry a roster of 105 players at the start of practice, with five more spots opened up on the first day of school. A lot of thought goes into those last 10 or so spots, with a "board" kept by coaches that sees daily changes, much like an NFL team going into a draft. With practice starting Monday, USF made a few more decisions on which walk-ons they'll carry this year, with a few new surprises with scholarships as well.
First, another walk-on promotion, by my count the fifth in the past year: junior Jared Carnes, a walk-on for two years who is in the hunt for the starting left tackle job, is now on scholarship. Carnes, at 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds, is the biggest Bull on roster, a St. Petersburg Catholic graduate who started his college career at Concord College in West Virginia before transferring to USF. This promotion matches all the talk we've heard this summer, that Carnes looks like a big-time lineman and has done a lot to put himself in contention for playing time. The other walk-ons to earn scholarships in the past year? Tight end Will Bleakley, receiver Ean Randolph, long snapper Ryan Bordeau and quarterback Anthony Severino.
More surprisingly, coach Jim Leavitt has added another scholarship recruit to his incoming class: 24-year-old Darryl Dudding, a 24-year-old sophomore who hasn't played football since the year 2000, when he was a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas. It's the best how-they-got-here story since Houston Hess last year: Dudding, an Indian Rocks Christian grad, just finished a four-year stint in the Coast Guard, aboard 210-foot cutters off the coast of Maine and Florida. His work involved drug interdiction and alien migration interdiction, and now he's living a dream he's had since he met Leavitt in the sixth grade. "Playing at USF has always been a dream of mine," he said. "To have this opportunity is unreal." He'll have three years of eligibility at USF -- the NCAA allows a player's five-year clock to stop while in military service. So it's more competition on snaps for Bordeau, who was actually a year behind Dudding at Indian Rocks at one point.
More cool walk-on stories? How about a Florida running back coming to USF from a junior college in Kansas? This doesn't sound like an Andre Hall, but there's reason to like Shawn Cannon, a 5-foot-10, 202-pound running back from Cantonment Tate (near Pensacola) who played the last two years at Highland Community College in Kansas. His numbers at Highland weren't anything huge -- about 640 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons, though he was limited by a sprained ankle last year. Tate coach Keith Leonard raved about him Friday: "I guarantee he will produce for the Bulls." As a senior at Tate in 2003, Cannon rushed for 1,532 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He told me he was watching the Bulls on TV last year and decided it was the place he wanted to be. He'll have two years of eligibility with the Bulls -- best-case scenario for him this fall, he's good enough as a backup to allow USF to redshirt both true freshmen, Keeley Dorsey and Aston Samuels.
Dudding isn't the only Pinellas player to come to USF football via the military: new offensive lineman Joe Herzhauser, 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, last played in 2001 at Lakewood High. From there, he spent two years in the Air Force in Colorado, then got his associate of arts degree from St. Petersburg College. It's some tricky math to figure eligibility on these guys, but Herzhauser either has two or three years of eligibility. He was an assistant coach at Lakewood High last fall under former Bulls star Otis Dixon.
The only true freshman of the new additions is Brad Chancey, a 6-foot, 200-pound walk-on from Boca Ciega, where he played as a linebacker. His size is better suited for a safety at USF, but they have him listed as a linebacker. (By the way, they've shifted Bradenton Southeast signee A.J. Love back to receiver, but expect him to get a look on both sides of the ball this fall).
I've got the Bulls at 107 players right now, which means at least two kids won't be practicing this week. A few players still haven't been officially accepted into the university -- defensive tackle James Jackson, who signed with USF in February, is one of them, along with walk-on defensive back J.B. Bailey and Dudding. Bailey and Jackson are finishing summer-school classes at junior colleges, and Dudding said he expects no problems getting into school. The roster still does not include Armwood receiver Mat Brevi -- still trying to track him down.
There you have it. Don't know that any of these guys will make an impact this fall, but now you know a little more about them ...