Finally, an answer: It's Pat
After months of speculation and a strong push by redshirt freshman Matt Grothe, USF senior Pat Julmiste has held onto the Bulls' starting quarterback job. He'll lead the Bulls in Saturday's season opener against McNeese State, making his 24th career start.
Give USF coach Jim Leavitt credit -- the man can keep a secret. Even Friday, Leavitt declined to reveal his starting quarterback, saying he'd let the answer come when Saturday's game kicks off at 7 p.m. And with assistant coaches and players given a gag order by Leavitt, how's a reporter to get the one answer that's lingered unknown through preseason camp?
I called Miramar High School, where Julmiste's brother, Jean, is a senior quarterback, with USF among three schools he's interested in. So I call the football office at Miramar, get coach Rodney Gray, and as it turns out, Jean is right there. He says his family's coming up for the game, and I mention how it's been interesting because Leavitt hasn't named a starter yet.
"He called us (Thursday) night and told us he was starting," Jean said.
Aha. It matches what Leavitt has alluded to for the past month, that if the two quarterbacks were close, he would go with Julmiste's experience -- no quarterback in the Big East has more career starts than he does entering the season. That's not to say Grothe won't see significant action on Saturday in his USF debut.
Not that Leavitt would take any opponent lightly, but USF's first two games, against McNeese and Florida International, will serve as a two-game tryout to determine who will make a significant start when the Bulls go to Orlando to play Central Florida on Sept. 16. Again, the job is Julmiste's to lose, so even if Grothe impresses, he'd likely need Julmiste to falter in some fashion to wrest the starting job away from a senior voted as one of four captains for the opener.