Mitchell, Cliett rise on USF post-spring depth chart
USF released its post-spring official depth chart on Friday morning, and there's a handful of curious changes from the one issued 12 days ago -- speedy Terrence Mitchell is now a starting receiver after a handful of drops by Sterling Griffin, and Sam Barrington is back at middle linebacker, with Reshard Cliett and Curtis Weatherspoon even in competition for the starting strongside linebacker job.
-- First, linebacker. USF tried two different looks this spring -- one with Barrington shifted over to the hole at strongside and Mike Lanaris as the starting middle, then in the final six practices, a different look with Barrington and Lanaris splitting time in the middle (as they did last season) and Cliett, Weatherspoon and newcomer Mike Jeune getting looks at strongside. The new depth chart has Barrington ahead of Lanaris in the middle, with Cliett and Weatherspoon even at strong and Jeune now the top backup to DeDe Lattimore at weakside. Finding ways to best utilize the depth at linebacker will be a storyline well into the 2011 season.
-- Interesting shakeup at receiver -- two weeks ago, Sterling Griffin was listed as a starter coming back from a missed season due to an ankle injury last summer. But after a handful of drops (and, to be fair, a touchdown catch) in USF's final two scrimmages, he's now listed as co-backup (!) with Derrick Hopkins, who had the long touchdown catch in USF's spring game. If I had to pick a most glaring "send a message" listing on the depth chart, this would be it. It's also worth noting that A.J. Love, who sat out the last two scrimmages as he recovers from knee surgery, is not among eight receivers included on the depth chart.
-- Can't say I understand the new depth chart at safety, as USF's coaches have had nothing but high praise for their top four safeties, saying that sophomores Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins are playing well and pushing starters Jerrell Young and Jon Lejiste. But somehow Jenkins is a co-backup now with senior Tyson Butler, who missed nearly all of spring with an ankle injury and spent just part of the last week back at safety. Rick Smith said that was because he couldn't yet move like a cornerback on his ankle.
-- Junior Anthony Hill, who has barely played in two seasons as a defensive tackle, has now apparently moved to defensive end, where he's listed as a co-backup with Julius Forte. Again, Forte seemed to have a good spring, forcing an interception on a hit of B.J. Daniels in the final scrimmage. In moving Hill outside, USF is making an easier path this fall for true freshman Elkino Watson to get in the interior rotation. At 293 pounds, it's hard to imagine Hill being quick enough to be an effective end, but perhaps he can drop weight this summer.
-- Walk-on fullback Chris Breit, who switched over from linebacker before spring drills, has supplanted Chase Griffiths as the backup to Armando Sanchez, himself a converted linebacker this spring. Breit looked good catching passes out of the backfield in both scrimmages.
Here's the actual depth chart for you:
SE: Evan Landi, Deonte Welch
LT: Mark Popek, Darren Powe
LG: Jeremiah Warren, John McGhin
C: Kevin McCaskill, Austin Reiter
RG: Chaz Hine, Danous Estenor
RT: Quinterrius Eatmon, Damien Edwards
TE: Andreas Shields, Isaac Virgin
FL: Terrence Mitchell, Sterling Griffin/Derrick Hopkins
QB: B.J. Daniels, Bobby Eveld
RB: Demetris Murray, Darrell Scott
FB: Armando Sanchez, Chris Breit
SL: Joel Miller, Victor Marc/Faron Hornes
DE: Ryne Giddins, Claude Davis
NT: Cory Grissom, Luke Sager/Todd Chandler
DT: Keith McCaskill, Demi Thompson
RE: Patrick Hampton, Julius Forte/Anthony Hill
SLB: Reshard Cliett/Curtis Weatherspoon
MLB: Sam Barrington, Mike Lanaris
WLB: DeDe Lattimore, Mike Jeune
CB: Kayvon Webster, George Baker/Ricardo Dixon
SS: Jon Lejiste, JaQuez Jenkins/Tyson Butler
FS: Jerrell Young, Mark Joyce
CB: Quenton Washington, Ernie Tabuteau/Spencer Boyd
P: Chris Veron, Justin Brockhaus-Kann
PK: Maikon Bonani, Marvin Kloss
LS: Mike Walsh
-- Those second-team ties are definitely by design -- USF has included 26 offensive players, 27 defensive players and five specialists on this depth chart. The only healthy non-freshman players on scholarship who didn't crack the two-deep were offensive lineman Steven Jacques and running back Dontae Aycock. Lots of injured players aren't accounted for here on the offensive side, but should be healthy for the fall: WRs Lindsey Lamar and A.J. Love, RBs Marcus Shaw and Bradley Battles, FB/TEs Chase Griffiths and Jeff Hawkins.