USF spring football: What to watch for

9

March

Spring football practice opens Tuesday for USF, and while we'll be up in New York for the Big East tournament, we'll get things rolling a day early with an overview of things the Bulls want to do in the next four weeks. One small roster note, as freshman walk-on Tyler Stowell, who redshirted last fall, has been moved to receiver, where his 6-foot-4 frame might more easily get on the field down the road. Should have a depth chart from USF later today, so we'll be back with more on that. In the meantime ...

REINVENT THE BULLS DEFENSE: New defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who held the same job at Cincinnati the past two seasons, has been on the job less than a week, and USF still hasn't named a linebackers coach. But these 15 practices this spring are hugely important as the Bulls transition to Tresey, who must find two new starting outside linebackers and two new starters in the secondary as well. The defensive line, anchored by All-American end George Selvie, should be a strength. Tackle Anthony Hill, who enrolled in January, will get his first look this spring.

FIND A NEW LINE: With four senior starters gone from last year's offensive line, the first priority is to find a new starting five, a rough draft with the potential to be upgraded in two-a-days in August. Guard Zach Hermann is a two-year starter, and fellow junior Jake Sims is versatile enough to play anywhere on the line. There's very limited experience beyond those two -- watch for tackles Danous Estenor and Mark Popek, both still in their first year on campus, as well as center Sampson Genus, who played defensive tackle last fall. August will bring junior college transfers Carlos Savala and Jamar Bass, who both could start, and also potentially former FSU tackle Daron Rose.

NEW LOOK ON OFFENSE, TOO: Receivers coach Mike Canales was promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Greg Gregory, and Canales is expected to throw downfield more, utilizing USF's speed at receiver. The biggest returning names are senior Jessie Hester and juniors Carlton Mitchell and Dontavia Bogan. A crowded backfield gets another talented runner with the first look at freshman Demetris Murray, who redshirted last fall and will compete with top returners Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor. One area Canales will focus on this spring is improving USF's red-zone effectiveness.

FIND MATT GROTHE'S BACKUP: Redshirt freshmen B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi will compete this spring for the right to be the top backup to senior Matt Grothe, entering his fourth year as the starting QB. Daniels and Landi should have plenty of chances to prove themselves on the field this fall, as USF's first three games are against I-AA's Wofford and Charleston Southern and I-A newcomer Western Kentucky. Daniels has spent the past three months with USF's basketball team, but the two-sport talent enters spring drills as the favorite to succeed Grothe as starter in 2010.

FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD EMERGE
Craig Marshall, Jr. DE: Can establish himself as starter opposite Selvie with strong spring.
Jon Lejiste, Fr. S: Converted corner will battle Jerrell Young for wide-open strong safety job.   
Daniel Bryant, Fr. WR: Took medical redshirt in fall, but could surprise with size and speed.
Mark Popek, Fr. OT: Huge at 6-7, 305 pounds, will face challenges for starting job in August.
Cory Grissom, Fr. DT: Coaches raved about him in preseason, but leg injury postponed his arrival.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:05pm]

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