Freshman TE Atkins may grayshirt for Bulls
We've written at length about how USF still has 28 incoming football signees with a maximum of 25 allowed to join the team this fall. The Bulls are one step closer to getting under the limit, as Gerard Atkins, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end from Dixie Hollins in St. Petersburg, is expected to "grayshirt" and defer his full-time enrollment until January.
The Bulls won't know for sure as to how many signees have been accepted into USF until the athletic department's academic committee meets next month. Unless the news there is worse than expected, Atkins will wait until January to join the Bulls, which will allow him to count toward next year's class.
Having said that, USF has yet to actually go over the limit and need to grayshirt a signee in the last few years. Offensive lineman Mike McGowan had agreed to grayshirt when he signed in 2007, but wound up joining the team in August with the rest of the freshmen. Last summer, quarterback Evan Landi and tight end Andreas Shields were at one point headed toward grayshirts, but USF ended up with enough room to take both in the fall.
TIght end is a position where Atkins was likely to redshirt this fall, with veterans Ben Busbee and Andrew Ketchell expected to compete for most of the significant action and redshirt freshmen Jeff Hawkins and Shields ready as backups, along with walk-on Kenneth Luberice. After joining the team on scholarship in January, Atkins would still have a full five-year window of eligibility, including a redshirt season available.
For USF to get to its limit of 25 scholarships, two other signees must either not qualify academically or accept grayshirts. With 61 returning scholarship players, at least one of those will not be on scholarship this fall if USF is to add a full class of 25 and remain under the total maximum of 85.