Freshman Mitchell gets look at receiver
Trying to add a spark to USF's struggling offense, coach Skip Holtz gave freshman cornerback Terrence "T-Rex" Mitchell a look at receiver on Sunday, saying the move is something he's considered for more than a month.
"We took a look at Terrence Mitchell as a receiver today," Holtz said. "Is it going to stick? I don't know. That's an awful lot to put on a freshman who's moving not just positions but sides of the ball. He's willing -- he came to me, said 'Coach, I just want to play. I hate what we're going through. Any way I can be of use to this team. I'll play receiver. I'll do whatever. It kills me to stand over there and not play and watch and see some of the frustrations we're going through as a program."
Mitchell has elite speed and would give the Bulls a big-play presence they've lacked, especially in an 0-2 start to Big East play. He has played primarily on defense, so he'll have to quickly learn routes and technique with any new position. Holtz said he considered moving Mitchell to offense after the Florida game, when receiver Dontavia Bogan injured his ankle, but thought at the time it would come at the defense's expense. With solid depth at cornerback, Mitchell hasn't seen much playing time on defense but has shined as USF's punt returner.
"I'm not going to weaken our defense to try to strengthen our offense. I'm not going to do that," Holtz said. "But if you have a guy who is one of your most dynamic players with a ball under his arm, as he's shown on punt returns, and we have a chance to get him the ball in space, we need to look at that. (Did he look good today?) He's got speed, athleticism. He's very natural with the ball. Catching punts is something we didn't teach him."
Hillsborough High coach Earl Garcia said Sunday night that Mitchell actually started his high school career as a receiver, starting there his freshman year, but Garcia moved him to defense because he liked his toughness and hitting ability. GarciMitchell and his cousin, former Hillsborough star and USF receiver Lindsey Lamar, were at Hillsborough's homecoming game Friday and were excited about the possibility of Mitchell getting a look on offense.
"We still used him on offense occasionally -- he's outstanding, and he's fearless over the middle," Garcia said. "It wouldn't surprise me to see him in the slot, in motion -- I think it's a good move. He's so quick and fast, and no question he can learn the offense. He'll study the playbook and the video -- he's bright as hell."
Holtz also said that barring injury to the current receivers, he intends to not play sophomore Sterling Griffin and let him redshirt this season as he recovers from a dislocated ankle suffered this summer. Holtz said Griffin likely isn't recovered enough to play as a starter, and he didn't want to use a year of eligibility to play him in a limited role.
"He has an unbelievable attitude -- 'Coach, I will play, if we have three games left and you tell me you need me, I'll give it up,'" Holtz said. "He's a phenomenal young man. My mind set with him right now is if somebody doesn't get hurt, I'm not going to use his year with six games left to play a backup role. If we were to have a couple of injuries where he could play a starting role through the last five or six games for us, then I would look at the possibility of trying to take his year. He doesn't do anybody any good to come out here, run route for 10 minutes, sit down for five, then need 10 minutes to warm up again. He's not ready for that."