Position breakdown: Receivers, finally
Remember the daily position breakdowns? From first week of camp? I'm going to try to get them in before Elon. We start back with receivers, where former USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales returns, taking over for Lawrence Dawsey, who went back to his alma mater, Florida State.
THE BIG THREE: The position is led by three veteran players expected to continue major roles in their third seasons playing at USF: senior Amarri Jackson and junior Taurus Johnson and Marcus Edwards. Johnson (37 catches for 494 yards) was named USF's Offensive Playmaker of the Year in 2006 despite starting only two games. Jackson, a huge target at 6-foot-5, averaged 15.1 yards per catch last season, and Edwards had 27 catches for 328 yards and two scores. These three will provide the leadership, on the field and likely on the stat sheet.
THE NEXT THREE: After those top three, receiver is a young position, loaded with freshmen and sophomores who could make huge jumps the way Johnson and Edwards did last year, when those two went from eight catches as freshmen to 64 as sophomores. Leading this second group are sophomore Jessie Hester Jr., who sat out last season but steps into a starting role after the season-ending injury to speedy Colby Erskin. The new big target will be redshirt freshman Carlton Mitchell, who has drawn high praise from coaches with a rare combination of size (6-4) and speed (he set USF's 400-meter record in track this spring). The fast riser this fall has been true freshman Dontavia Bogan, who earned higher accolades as a defensive back in Thomasville, Ga., where he had five interceptions. I'm just getting this from the stats, but he might be the offense's new reverse specialist -- he rushed 17 times as a high school senior for 295 yards and five touchdowns. Nothing like 17.4 yards per carry.
THE REST: There are four other redshirt freshmen who will make their debut -- 6-foot-2 Eddie Alcin is the only one to crack the two-deep, but watch out for 6-2 A.J. Love, 6-4 Jason Sherman and speedy walk-on David Cozzo. Senior Courtney Denson made a lot of plays in the spring game, and sophomore Antwon Hanks is, like Mitchell, a track star who could make his first football impact this fall. All signs point to the unit's other two true freshmen (Patrick Richardson and walk-on Rhett Hamrick) redshirting this fall.
So I'll turn things over to you guys: who will be the breakout star of the group? After combining for seven touchdown receptions last season, how many scores can the big three pull in? And most importantly, what number will Sherman (No. 23 in your programs, sorry, 4; sorry, 3; sorry, 1) settle on in the next five days? Get your comments in and I'll get to the tight ends tonight or Wednesday.
-- Oh, one little piece of online bulletin-board material, since it's been hard to find anything remotely negative about the Bulls in the media lately. Remember, first, that USF didn't look that sharp while playing in Kansas last season. The Wichita Eagle, in its season preview, tags the Bulls as the Big East team likely to take "a step back." They cite a "nonexistent running game" and "tough road games" in writing that "the Bulls' road to a third-straight bowl will be rough." No need for that hyphen, really.