USF journal: Tyre McCants bulks up, Greg Reaves on scholarship
In their perpetual quest to create glaring advantages in their passing game, the Bulls may have come upon the most novel mismatch yet.
Isolating a speedster against a linebacker? Too routine.
How 'bout a speedster who resembles a linebacker?
Fourth-year junior Tyre McCants, who arrived at USF weighing around 210 pounds more than three years ago, now is listed at 236. If he were a backer, he'd be the second-heaviest on the team. (Here's a photo of him following Thursday's practice).
"I feel comfortable," said McCants, who at 5-foot-11 sports a stocky, muscular frame. "I feel like I'm still running the same."
Though he says he's closer to 230 after nearly four weeks of preseason practice, McCants is the biggest receiver in the American Athletic Conference based on official roster listings.
And he's by far the stockiest of any Division I receiver in the state. Florida's Kalif Jackson and FAU's DeAndre McNeal are listed at 236, but stand 6-4 and 6-1, respectively.
"I like to use it to my advantage, I like being a bigger body," said McCants, a utility force (1,918 all-purpose yards) on the 2013 Niceville High team that reached the Class 7A state title game. "I don't think it ever really holds me back speed-wise, so I just use it to my advantage."
McCants said he initially bulked up after sustaining an ACL injury his freshman year, and played at around 220 last season, when he enjoyed a breakthrough season (25 catches, 384 yards, four touchdowns). He was limited in spring drills by a sprained right foot, then added 10 pounds in the offseason.
The coaches plan to exploit that frame -- and fleetness -- by putting McCants in the slot, where he's likely to out-muscle most defenders he encounters.
"He's a bigger, stockier kid for being inside at the slot, but that's obviously a position we like him in," offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said Thursday. "He's able to apply pressure on people with his size, and it's kind of a mismatch sometimes with either nickels or DBs out there."
REAVES ON SCHOLARSHIP: Because these videos never get old, here's a clip of Coach Charlie Strong awarding a scholarship Thursday to sophomore DE Greg Reaves.
A Manatee High alumnus who spent some time at the Air Force Academy Prep School, Reaves was confined mostly to special teams last season (seven tackles), but has been running with the first team defensive line from time to time this preseason.
"I just came out here, worked hard every day," Reaves (6-2, 243) told reporters Tuesday. "Every day in the offseason, we worked technique, we worked hands...and honestly I just came out here and competed every day."
ROCK RILEY ABOARD: Longtime central Florida sports-radio personality Rock Riley confirmed Thursday he's replacing Justin Pawlowski as co-host of USF football's pre- and postgame radio shows. He'll be teamed with veteran Jim Lighthall.
Pawlowski, the father of a 3-year-old girl, recently stepped down after nine seasons to devote more time to his family.
INJURY UPDATE: Senior WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, recently limited for two weeks by a right-leg injury, appeared limp- and pain-free while doing some routes at the end of practice Thursday. He returned to a full practice schedule Monday.
"He's done a good job. Just being able to get back in rhythm's the biggest thing, and take reps," Gilbert said. "He's in the right spots and running the right routes and doing what he needs to do, so he's been good."
Elsewhere, senior WR Ryeshene Bronson again didn't appear to practice, but no longer has his right arm in a sling. Backup OL Glen Bethel was on crutches and wearing a protective boot on his left foot; Strong could address Bethel's injury Saturday.
ODDS AND ENDS: Gilbert said the staff is "getting close" to solidifying a starting five on the offensive front. ... When asked which Bulls youngsters have impressed him, McCants said CB Bentlee Sanders has had "an amazing camp." ... QB Quinton Flowers is No. 1 on Athlon Sports' list of 12 dark horse Heisman candidates published Thursday.