Holtz has many options for final scholarships
We might not have an answer for another month, but the lingering question this summer is what first-year USF coach Skip Holtz will do with the final scholarships available to him to improve his team this fall.
To answer that question, another must be answered first: How many scholarships does Holtz have to play with? We can't say with authority, as to this point we've only uncovered one scholarship player transferring out (safety Charlton Sinclair) and one signee definitely not making it to campus (running back Tiger Powell.) More of either of those could open more scholarships in the next month, but as it stands right now, USF has 83 of its 85 scholarships accounted for, leaving two by the current count.
Holtz has plenty of options -- at least eight players in contention for scholarships, and that's just the ones we're aware of. Will he focus on helping the team this fall, or improving it down the road? Will he put a priority on rewarding current players or increasing the level of talent with new arrivals?
Given the injuries at receiver, that position would seem to be a priority, which would likely put N.C. State's Donald Bowens near the top of the list. Bowens, a St. Petersburg High graduate who can play right away after graduating from NCSU, said Wednesday that he's trying to finalize things for his admission to USF. As Stan Heath and his staff have found out this summer, getting into graduate school at USF isn't always an easy thing.
Holtz's other options include a few high-profile transfers who have expressed interest in joining the Bulls, but likely would have to sit out the 2010 season by NCAA transfer rules. Colorado running back Darrell Scott, Notre Dame cornerback Spencer Boyd and Auburn running back Dontae Aycock have all expressed an interest in USF and have had communication with the Bulls' coaches.
Scott, reached by phone on Wednesday, declined to comment on USF but said he'd be in contact once he has some news. Boyd finishes his summer classes at Notre Dame next week, and Aycock has talked with offensive coordinator Todd Fitch and made it clear USF is where he wants to be this fall.
But Holtz has deserving scholarship candidates on his own roster -- the Bulls have a rich tradition of rewarding walk-ons who establish themselves as key players. We're presuming for now that four walk-ons who had been placed on scholarship by former coach Jim Leavitt -- starting offensive linemen Jake Sims and Chaz Hine, long-snapper Mike Walsh and returner Faron Hornes -- will remain that way this fall.
There are other walk-ons who could get scholarships -- senior safety Mistral Raymond, a likely starter who had 40 tackles last year, said after the spring game that he'd talked with Holtz and would go on scholarship if he did what he needed to academically. If Eric Schwartz wins the kicking job, you can make a good case for him being worthy of a scholarship. And senior linebacker Donte Spires, formerly on scholarship, said he rejoined the team in January having been told by Leavitt he would be on scholarship.
There's more -- does Holtz bring back sixth-year receiver Colby Erskin, who is recovering from a third ACL injury but will transfer if his scholarship isn't renewed? Has running back Joel Miller, a special-teams leader in past seasons, done enough to merit a scholarship?
One name we've mentioned who is not expected to be part of the team this fall is Freedom defensive back T.J. Mutcherson, a 2010 recruit who said last month that he had posted a qualifying test score and hoped to join the Bulls. It's still certainly a possibility he could enroll at USF in January as a "grayshirt," though he might decide to go to another school where he can start school this fall.
So let's say, for conversation's sake, that Holtz winds up with four scholarships at his disposal in the next month. What four players would you choose and why? Again, there could be other options we're not aware of, but Holtz has a wide variety of players to choose from as it is ...