Because he had watched Blake Barnett for fewer than two-dozen practices, Bulls coach Charlie Strong wasn't totally sure what to expect from his new quarterback in Saturday's season opener.
The same can't be said for Barnett's top target. Strong sensed redshirt freshman Randall St. Felix was bound for a breakthrough.
It came to prolific fruition (seven catches, 143 yards, one touchdown) in the Bulls' 34-14 rout of Elon. It was the top receiving debut by a freshman in program history.
"He has looked the way he looked tonight since spring practice," Strong said. "And even last year, when we redshirted him and he was on scout team, he was making those type of catches."
Arguably the most impressive offensive player of USF's preseason (according to some privy to the practices), St. Felix had receptions of 40 and 52 yards. The 40-yarder came on the Bulls' fifth offensive play, when the Miami native got behind his coverage on a simple streak route for a touchdown.
"The corner, I guess he was a little undecided so I just ran by him," he said.
The performance highlighted what amounted to an ensemble effort for USF's receivers, nine of whom caught at least one pass. But only St. Felix and junior Darnell Salomon (who had a 50-yarder) had receptions of longer than 16 yards.
"(St. Felix) is just a big, strong, physical receiver, has big hands and is able to make the play," Strong said. "And you look at him, he can stretch it vertical…or he can make the 5-yard catch and turn it into big yardage."