Bulls can expect a wide-open spring from Holtz
Spring football is exactly two weeks away, with practices starting March 3, and as winter workouts continue for USF with coaches able to work with players in a limited capacity without a ball being used, it's clear Skip Holtz will keep an open mind in tinkering with his lineup this spring.
Holtz likes open competition all over the field in spring, so we could see a fair amount of positional tweaking, with players cross-training at multiple spots to find the best combination for the fall.
-- Strongside linebacker might be the most intriguing position this spring -- we've mentioned that newcomers Mike Jeune and Antoine Pozniak, who came aboard last month, will get looks there, and Holtz said Monday that redshirt freshman Reshard Cliett, who worked at safety this past season, will also be in the mix at Sam -- he continues to put on solid weight in the offseason and is in the 210-215-pound range now, comparable to what Jacquian Williams played at last season. USF also has the option of shifting starter Sam Barrington (yes, to Sam) and keeping Mike Lanaris in the middle (yes, at Mike) and having three experienced linebackers instead of a fresh face starting on the outside.
-- Holtz will rep all four of his scholarship quarterbacks this spring, but said experience puts B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld well ahead of freshmen Jamius Gunsby and Matt Floyd. Those two will compete this spring for the Bulls' No. 3 job, with Gunsby having the advantage of being here last fall, while Floyd just got to campus last month. We should have some scrimmages open to the media in spring, so we can get a closer look at how all four are running the offense.
-- Fullback may be the position where USF has the least depth -- Richard Kelly and Kevin Gidrey graduated and Jeff Hawkins is out with injury, leaving seldom-used Chase Griffiths, a converted linebacker, as the only scholarship fullback this spring. Keep in mind that the tight ends and fullbacks are in the same meeting room, so guys like Isaac Virgin and Andreas Shields could go there, though they've both been used more in the "H" hybrid TE/WR position. Holtz mentioned the possibility of giving some of his reserve linebackers a look at fullback this spring, but said they also might simply use the fullback less. The two RB transfers, Darrell Scott and Dontae Aycock, are both bigger backs in the 225-230-pound range, but Holtz said they'll stay as primary running backs and not fullbacks.
-- USF's spring walk-on tryout process will run from Monday until the start of spring practice, and the results of which players are able to join the team's 105-man roster will have an impact on what direction the Bulls go with their preferred walk-ons. Holtz can go up to 115 players once school starts in September (up from 110 under Jim Leavitt), but those final spots on the 105 will be hotly contested. Don't expect any decisions on potential scholarship transfers until after spring, when USF has a better sense of its depth chart and there's a better read on what players are available after deciding to leave other programs. As we mentioned, USF is over its scholarship limit if everyone returns, but if there's enough attrition with reserves moving on, there could be scholarships in play.
-- We'll be doing more in coming weeks on 2012 recruiting -- USF has extended verbal offers to about 55 current high school juniors, part of a database of 400-plus players the Bulls are monitoring as potential signees a year from now. The Times' Bob Putnam has an update on another new offer, Pinellas Park's Jeremi Powell, who has the Bulls among his top choices after an unofficial visit this week.