Walk-on Ciabatti holding firm as starting punter
TAMPA -- Special teams coach Vernon Hargreaves said it's up to head coach Skip Holtz to name a starter, but redshirt freshman walk-on Mattias Ciabatti has put himself in position to replace two-year starter Justin Brockhaus-Kann as the Bulls' punter.
"He's pretty much done a good job of holding off Brock to this point," Hargreaves said. "(Holtz) will make that final call going into the last week. The numbers are close, and we want to make sure we get the right guy out there."
Ciabatti, a Hillsborough grad who redshirted last season, came out of spring practice as the punter to beat, and while Brockhaus-Kann has pushed him this fall, Hargreaves said Ciabatti has performed well. USF coaches considered starting him last year, but opening the year at Notre Dame, decided it was a tough environment for a true freshman.
"We're hoping a year later, having been around it makes a little bit of difference," Hargreaves said. "Last year, coming out a couple months out of high school and going to a place like Notre Dame, I don't know if that would have been the best situation."
Hargreaves could have a change on kickoff duties, as walk-on Marvin Kloss, who handled kickoffs last year, is being pushed by senior Maikon Bonani, who handles field goals and extra points. Bonani has "improved tremendously" in being able to send kickoffs into the end zone consistently.
THIS AND THAT: The Bulls' offensive depth is strong enough that offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said three non-freshmen -- junior QB Bobby Eveld, junior RB Mike Pierre and sophomore TE Tye Turner -- could be redshirted this season, barring surprises or injuries. ... Hargreaves said he's liked what he's seen from redshirt freshman DE Edsel Caprice, who could be used as a third-down pass rusher, utilizing the speed of the 215-pound defender, who moved back from linebacker last week. ... Fitch said junior Marcus Shaw has solidified his position as USF's No. 2 running back behind senior starter Demetris Murray, showing consistency in his play during preseason camp. ... Friday's third and final scrimmage of the preseason will include an emphasis on game rehearsal, with punting units coming on the field after missed third downs and other situational substitutions to see how players are prepared for game action and sudden changes.