Spring practice report: Depth abounding at receiver
Only 16 months have elapsed since USF's receiving corps stretched only as far as Andre Davis could take it.
Davis was one of only five true receivers to catch a pass in 2014 -- his record-breaking senior year -- and one of only three to catch a touchdown pass.
Today, the Bulls appear to have burners to burn. USF's spring roster features 16 receivers, and no fewer than 11 appear to have a reasonable shot at cracking the rotation.
"The depth is the same (as at N.C. State)," said 6-foot-5 Wolfpack transfer Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a Lakewood High alumnus and early favorite for a starting role. "You've got guys who can play everywhere."
On Friday, sophomore Tyre McCants seized his chance to impress. In seven-on-seven work, McCants snagged TD passes of 45 and 35 yards from Quinton Flowers and Brett Kean, respectively; and ended practice with a 40-yard catch from Flowers in 11-on-11 action.
"I mean, I've got 16 wide receivers," position coach T.J. Weist said Wednesday. "Guys that can play, guys that can run, guys that are hungry."
BRAWNIER BACKS: Each of the Bulls' top three tailbacks -- senior Darius Tice, junior D'Ernest Johnson and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack -- entered spring camp with modestly transformed frames.
Tice is up to 215 pounds, roughly 10 more than 2014, when he ran for 448 yards and four TDs in the regular season. Johnson, listed at 208 last season, is down to 204. Mack has increased from 205 to 210 to see how effectively he can carry the added weight.
"I feel a lot better, a lot better...because last year I was at (208), but it was like, fattening," said Johnson, who had 1,251 all-purpose yards last fall. "So I dropped down to 195 but I picked it back up with straight muscle."
SEVEN-ON-SEVEN: QB Quinton Flowers finished 10-for-19 with a TD (to McCants) and interception during Friday's extensive seven-on-seven session that featured four quarterbacks.
Redshirt freshman Brett Kean went 3-for-7 with a TD (to McCants) and two interceptions, while UCLA transfer Asiantii Woulard finished 0-for-4 in limited work.
Two transfers -- MLB Cecil Cherry (Texas) and S Austin Hudson (Wisconsin) -- had interceptions during the session. Redshirt freshman S Jaymon Thomas had the other.
DUNGY, MONKEN TO APPEAR AT CLINIC: Upcoming Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Tony Dungy is among those scheduled to join Bulls coach Willie Taggart at the USF Football Coaches Clinic, set for April 1-2 at the Morsani Practice Complex.
Others scheduled to speak include new Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, Plant coach Robert Weiner, Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts, and Bulls senior offensive consultant (and legendary former Bradenton Manatee coach) Joe Kinnan.
Cost is $40 per coach until Saturday, and $50 afterward. The fee is reduced to $35 per coach for groups of five or more coaches. For information, go to USFCoachesClinic.com.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls practice again Saturday at 2:30. All workouts are open to the public. ... DE Josh Black (foot) and WR Stanley Clerveaux (knee) appeared to practice on a limited basis Friday, with Clerveaux sporting a supportive brace on his left knee. ... Mack, when asked what his personal motivation is for 2016: "I'm motivated to win the AAC. That's all I want to do, bring USF a conference title, and hopefully our team will do it." ... For the second practice in a row, the first-team offensive line consisted of LT Kofi Amichia, LG Cameron Ruff, C Michael Galati, RG Dominique Threatt and RT Billy Atterbury.
AUDIBLE: "When I first got here I requested (No.) 5, but...they gave it to Marlon Mack then. Last year I requested No. 7, and (Taggart) said, 'Do something.' So then Brett (Kean) came in. Then before the season I said, 'Coach T, if I do something can I switch my number to 2?' because Steven Bench was leaving. He said, 'If you do something I promise I'll switch your number.'" -- Johnson, who finally has been awarded No. 2, which he wore at Immokalee High.