No tall tale: Meet the incredible shrinking Bulls
We knew USF's football players would have a different look under first-year coach Skip Holtz, and with the release of Thursday's fall football roster, we can now see one clear change among the Bulls: They're shorter.
In compiling measurements for the roster, USF went directly to trainer Steve Walz for the first time, and as a result, there's no embellishing heights or weights. There are also 28 returning football players who are listed as being shorter than they were last fall, including eight players who are at least two inches shorter.
There are some pretty big names who were downsized -- quarterback B.J. Daniels, once listed at 6-foot-1, now checks in at 5-foot-11, and six others lost two inches: receiver Derrick Hopkins, affectionately known as "Flea," is now 5-5. Eight projected starters besides Daniels lost an inch -- all three starting linebackers, Jacquian Williams, Sam Barrington and Sabbath Joseph, along with RB Mo Plancher, OT Jamar Bass, DEs David Bedford and Craig Marshall and S Jerrell Young.
Hit hardest by the new measurements was defensive end Patrick Hampton, who had been listed at 6-3 each year since 2007, but now is three inches shorter at 6 feet.
In some cases, the new numbers make much more sense -- identical twins Keith and Kevin McCaskill were listed last year as being 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-2, respectively. With the new roster, Kevin, a backup center, is two inches shorter, meeting his brother Keith, a starting defensive tackle, who was one of seven USF players who are now listed taller than they were last year. Given how his teammates have struggled to maintain their listed height, it's all the more impressive that fullback/tight end Richard Kelly picked up two inches, showing up at 6-2 after three years at 6-0.
The new roster honesty took a toll even on newcomers, compared to the heights and weights they were introduced at when they signed with USF in February. Safety Mark Joyce of DeLand, listed at 6-1 when he signed, is now 5-foot-10. Defensive end Claude Davis, who enrolled at USF in January, came in at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds; he was 6-4 and 247 on USF's spring roster and is now listed at 6-2 and 234.
All this was discovered in the annual Jenny Craig-like survey of which players gained or lost the most weight -- in most years, heights aren't so volatile. The biggest gainer, surprisingly, is redshirt freshman walk-on quarterback Ryan Eppes, who is listed at 219 pounds, up 34 from last fall. Four linemen added more than 20 pounds in the past year -- Luke Sager added 29, John McGhin and Josh Garvin added 24 and Damien Edwards added 22. Aside from Davis, only two other Bulls dropped more than 10 pounds -- defensive tackle Anthony Hill is listed as weighing 271 pounds, down by 17, as is offensive tackle Mark Popek, who is now 288.
We'll see about getting comments from Holtz and a few players this afternoon, that is, if they haven't disappeared entirely ...