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First draft: USF pre-spring depth chart

3

January

I'll preface this by saying that spring is the time of year where a depth chart has the least significance -- Skip Holtz runs a wide-open spring, rotating in third-stringers evenly with the starters and top backups to give everybody a long look. There isn't a true depth chart to speak of until after spring, but for conversation's sake, we offer up what one might look like entering the spring -- counting three January enrollees we anticipate, there are 69 scholarship players, leaving room for 16 more on signing day, plus any extra room gained by offseason attrition.

The only position change to note here is true freshman Spencer Boyd, the Notre Dame transfer who worked at receiver all fall but has now moved back to cornerback, the position he was working at in South Bend. Boyd worked on the defensive side during bowl week, and it's the side he'd prefer to play on, and right now, there are only four scholarship cornerbacks ahead of him.

QUARTERBACK: B.J. Daniels, Bobby Eveld. Daniels' strong play in the bowl game distances him a bit as the starter, and true freshman Jamius Gunsby will join the fray in competing with the Bulls' two quarterbacks from 2010. Matt Floyd, an early enrollee, will join the team this month as well, adding some depth to the position.

RUNNING BACK: Demetris Murray, Marcus Shaw. We're yielding to experience as a default, but this position may have the best competition of the spring, with transfers Darrell Scott and Dontae Aycock expected to push for playing time after sitting out 2010. With Bradley Battles undergoing knee surgery, those are essentially the four backs for spring -- keep an eye on Scott, the powerful transfer from Colorado.

FULLBACK/TIGHT END: Andreas Shields, Isaac Virgin. This hybrid position was hit hard by graduation, with Kevin Gidrey, Richard Kelly and Andrew Ketchel lost to graduation; Jeff Hawkins will also miss the spring with a knee injury. That leaves the only true fullback as converted linebacker Chase Griffiths -- Shields and Virgin are more the "H" hybrid TE/WR target, but will have to work at tight end as well.

WIDE RECEIVER: Evan Landi, A.J. Love, Sterling Griffin/Lindsey Lamar, Terrence Mitchell, Joel Miller.  Another position in flux -- Landi is surely a starter, and Love and Griffin will be too if healthy after missing 2010 with injuries. Beyond that, it's wide-open from 4 to 12 -- Lamar and Mitchell's speed should give them an advantage, but watch out for freshman Deonte Welch, who redshirted, and T.J. Knowles, who played only sparingly as a junior college transfer. Faron Hornes is a senior who played extensively in the third-down package, and youngsters Stephen Bravo-Brown, Derrick Hopkins and Victor Marc will try to earn their way onto the field.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT: Jeremiah Warren, Damien Edwards

LG: Danous Estenor, Darren Powe

C: Kevin McCaskill, Austin Reiter

RG: Chaz Hine, John McGhin

RT: Mark Popek, Quinterrius Eatmon

A lot could change here -- Warren is a starting guard right now, but Estenor is one of the five most experienced, so he'll be more likely to open spring as a starter than the true freshman Eatmon. USF needs to find another established center, which could be Estenor -- the second-team options have little or no college experience right now, so building depth is crucial between now and September. Freshman Jake Kaufman has back problems, but Steven Jacques and Tony Kibler can compete for backup jobs with other inexperienced options.

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE: Ryne Giddins, Julius Forte

DT: Cory Grissom, Luke Sager

DT: Keith McCaskill, Anthony Hill

DE: Patrick Hampton, Claude Davis

Again, the second-team line has precious little experience -- you could see a freshman like Todd Chandler push for a spot in the fall rotation, but this is another position hit hard by graduation, which takes both starting ends and an anchor inside in Terrell McClain. Then again, the Bulls lost three starters from the 2009 line and the position still held up well.

LINEBACKER

SLB: Mike Jeune, Antoine Pozniak

MLB: Sam Barrington, Mike Lanaris

WLB: DeDe Lattimore, Curtis Weatherspoon

The fun switch is to put Sam at Sam and have Mike (Lanaris) at Mike -- there's a hole at strongside, and newcomers Jeune and Pozniak will get a look this spring, but it makes sense to get an experienced player like Lanaris on the field unless one of them really impresses. If Barrington slides to the strongside, special-teams ace Armando Sanchez would step in as the No. 2 middle. True freshman Reshard Cliett, making the switch from safety, will get his first look at weakside.

SECONDARY

CB: Kayvon Webster, George Baker

FS: Jerrell Young, Mark Joyce

SS: Jon Lejiste, JaQuez Jenkins

CB: Quenton Washington, Ricardo Dixon

Safety might have the best depth of any position on the team, with both spots having veterans pushed by rising sophomores. There are only five scholarship cornerbacks, including Boyd, though coaches have been impressed by Dixon, still just a rising sophomore. Washington has improved himself considerably in the last two months, but the cornerback position is still a concern.

SPECIALISTS

Hard to really lay out a two-deep here -- Maikon Bonani is firmly entrenched as a starter after the most accurate field-goal season in school history. There's more of a battle at punter, where Justin Brockhaus-Kann's numbers weren't impressive; he'll be pushed by freshman Chris Veron. Long-snapper Mike Walsh, a rising senior, is also likely a safe bet to keep his starting job.

There you have it -- thoughts? comments? Areas of concern or excitement?

[Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 10:58pm]

    

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