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Eight months out: USF's projected '16 starting lineup

USF SS Nate Godwin will have serious competition for his starting job in 2016.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF SS Nate Godwin will have serious competition for his starting job in 2016.

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December

If necessity is the mother of invention, stir-craziness just might be a first cousin.

The first two days of the Knight family vacation, spent snugly in a refurbished 19th-century cabin nestled high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, oozed of tranquility and decompression. By the end of Day 3, every variation of Battleship and Monopoly had been employed and a trip downhill for milk elicited whoops of excitement. That's a surplus of creative juice that must be expended somehow, some way.

Which leads to the ridiculously premature projected USF starting lineup for 2016. Granted, an inevitable wave of attrition (i.e. transfers, injuries, academic casualties) will strike at some point between now and the Sept. 3 opener against Towson, but who doesn't crave such conjecture at any time of year?

Bear in mind, this is the projected starting lineup for the season opener only. And for this exercise, we'll presume the Bulls open with two wideouts, a slot receiver and tight end on offense; and the 4-2-5 defense (under second-year coordinator Tom Allen).

Offense
QB Quinton Flowers, Jr.
HB Marlon Mack, Jr.
WR Rodney Adams, Sr.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, R-Jr.
SL Chris Barr, So.
TE Mitchell Wilcox, R-Fr.
LT Kofi Amichia, Sr.
LG Jeremi Hall, Jr.
C Michael Galati, R-So.
RG Dominique Threatt, Sr.
RT Glen Bethel, R-Jr.
Breakdown: In light of Flowers' breakthrough year, we simply can't see anyone except him taking the first snap in '16, regardless of how impressively Asiantii Woulard performs in the preseason. Does Woulard appear to possess a better arm and more physical upside? Certainly, but Eric Kresser had a similar advantage over Danny Wuerffel at Florida in a prior generation, and we saw how that turned out. By many accounts, Valdes-Scantling -- a teammate of Adams at Lakewood High -- may have been the second-best receiver on the team this year (albeit in a scout-team role). Wilcox is extremely talented, he just needed a year to get a little bigger (hence his redshirt season). If four-star commitment Darnell Salomon signs and performs as advertised in August, he very well could enter the receiver rotation.

Defense
DE LaDarrius Jackson, Jr.
DT Deadrin Senat, Jr.
DT Kevin Bronson, R-So.
BULL Josh Black, R-So.
MLB Auggie Sanchez, Jr.
WLB Nigel Harris, Sr.
CB Deatrick Nichols, Jr.
HUSKY Khalid McGee, So.
SS Nate Godwin, Sr.
FS Devin Abraham, Jr.
CB Ronnie Hoggins, So.
Breakdown: The Bulls should replenish well up front, especially now that Jackson is aboard from Hinds (Miss.) Community College. Black took a redshirt year due to some physical/academic issues, but coaches love his potential at the bull spot. McGee was Jamie Byrd's backup at husky this past season, so for now we'll go with him on the first team, though we wouldn't be shocked if Nichols ultimately transitioned there. Again, this is an opening-day projection. Several dudes on this roster -- including transfers Austin Hudson (Wisconsin) and Cecil Cherry (Texas) -- are way too talented to remain on the bench for the long term.

Special Teams
K Emilio Nadelman, Jr.
P Brent Gordon, So.
KR D'Ernest Johnson, Jr.
PR Tajee Fullwood, Jr.
Breakdown: In terms of projecting the future, this unit represents the biggest crapshoot, simply because we don't know if a walk-on specialist will show up and blow everyone's socks off. For now, we're going with Gordon at punter. In his collegiate debut, the walk-on from Jacksonville had a very solid Miami Beach Bowl (seven attempts, 39.6-yard average) after Mattias Ciabatti was sent home for breaking curfew.  

[Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:26pm]

    

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