USF spring football: Five players who impressed
Plenty to look back on as USF has wrapped up spring football drills, but we'll start with the five players that stood out most over the past month, either in establishing themselves as starters or solidifying themselves as playmakers on either side of the ball. I'll ask for your nominations as well, both from these five and any players you think deserve to be in the conversation as well ...
Andre Davis, sophomore, WR: After a breakout spring, it's hard to imagine that Davis went the final five games of 2011 without scoring a touchdown, or that he totaled 45 yards in the first six games of the season. In all three scrimmages, Davis showed himself to be a major downfield threat -- catching a long touchdown (and kissing his mom in celebration) in the first scrimmage, catching two more scores and a 59-yard pass to the 1 in the second scrimmage, then a 41-yard sideline catch on Saturday. Sterling Griffin is arguably USF's most reliable receiver, but Davis may now have the biggest upside for 2012.
Ryne Giddins, junior, DE: Whether the QB was live or not, whether he was facing first-stringer Mark Popek or backups, Giddins was the most consistent defensive force in USF's scrimmage, disrupting quarterbacks, getting tons of whistle-stops when B.J. Daniels was protected by the red non-contact jersey. Remember, what coaches want from him is consistency -- he didn't grade out as a winner in enough games last year to qualify for Skip Holtz's "Victors Club," and his next step will be maintaining a high level of play throughout a game. There should be strong competition on the opposite side between juniors Julius Forte and Tevin Mims.
Lindsey Lamar, senior, RB: Marcus Shaw also finished the spring strong, but Lamar looked comfortable again on offense after he was switched back to RB after two years as a receiver. His size will be a concern, but he showed a spark in the scrimmages, with a touchdown up the middle at Corbett and tough yards in the second half of the first scrimmage. When Lamar can make the first tackler miss -- or just not take him down -- he has a great acceleration before the next tackler gets there, making him a strong change-of-pace complement to Demetris Murray.
JaQuez Jenkins, junior, FS: He certainly got called out by Rick Smith after an ill-timed concussion, but Jenkins makes plays when he's healthy, and if you listened to Skip Holtz's comments after the spring game, he feels like USF is a different defense when Jenkins is on the field, getting people in the right place and making plays himself. USF's challenge is keeping him healthy, and finding ways to utilize him, Jon Lejiste and Mark Joyce as three talented, experienced safeties.
Austin Reiter, sophomore, C: Of the two openings on the offensive line, Reiter grabbed his most convincingly, and he'll now be a potential three-year starter if he plays his cards right. If you'll remember, Steve Shankweiler was very high on Reiter last summer, and given an opportunity to step in as a starter, Reiter did everything asked this spring. As long as Danous Estenor is healthy, the Bulls seem pleased with the progress of junior transfer Lawrence Martin as the likely starter at left guard as well.