Top battle entering camp? Second corner job
TAMPA -- USF's football players officially report for Skip Holtz's third season with the Bulls on Sunday, and while his team doesn't have many starting jobs unclaimed, the biggest position battle is for the second cornerback job opposite senior Kayvon Webster.
"(It's) definitely one that's up in the air," Holtz said this week at the Big East's media day in Rhode Island. "I feel good about it, because we've got like six guys fighting for it that good enough to play."
Junior Fidel Montgomery, who joined the Bulls in January, may be the player to beat entering camp, though defensive backs coach Rick Smith said he was impressed in spring by senior George Baker, who hasn't played consistently enough in game situations to earn coaches' full trust. Another promising if unproven challenger is redshirt freshman Kenneth Durden -- Holtz's opening-week starter against I-AA Chattanoog is likely to be one of those three.
"I think there's a lot of taent there. It's just the unknown. That has not yet played out," said Holtz, who also wants to solidify his second-string linebacker spots. "Other than that, I think we pretty much know who's where. There's still some competition battles going on, but it's (between) two really good players."
One of those is at left guard, where junior Lawrence Martin, a January enrollee, will challenge senior Damien Edwards, who has played sparingly but came out of spring drills atop the official depth chart.
The Bulls report today and will have two practices in shoulder pads Monday and Tuesday before leaving for Vero Beach, where they'll spend 11 days training at the former Dodgertown practice complex. They'll return in time for Fan Fest at Raymond James Stadium at 2 p.m. on Aug. 19.
MOURNING A LOSS: USF junior walk-on receiver Jonny Sitton is a younger brother to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton, 26, who was killed this week while serving in Afghanistan. Holtz extended condolences to the Sitton family on Friday, and said Sitton -- who played for the Bulls in 2010 and spent last season at NAIA Shorter University -- will have as much time as he needs to be with his family and can report to camp when he's ready.
ANOTHER OPTION: Webster said he enters camp as USF's No. 2 option on kick returns, a role he was held out of last season due to a lack of healthy cornerbacks most of the season. He had four kickoff returns in his first two seasons at USF and said he'd like the chance to line up deep for the Bulls, who also return last year's primary returner in running back Lindsey Lamar.
"I'm definitely going to look into that," Webster said. "I don't mind playing special teams. I actually love special teams."
THIS AND THAT: Reserve cornerback Ricardo Dixon, limited by injuries in the last two seasons, has transferred to I-AA Youngstown State, where he's reunited with former USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. His position coach there, USF alum Glenn Davis, was a graduate assistant with the Bulls last year. ... Five USF football players graduated Saturday, including two juniors, defensive tackle Luke Sager and guard John McGhin, who got their degrees in three years. ... Walk-on Jordan Duval, arrested last month on a felony grand theft charge and accused of stealing a fellow student's iPhone, was not listed on the fall roster released to the media Tuesday.