TAMPA ― As USF coach Charlie Strong can attest, possessing a roster with three proven quarterbacks has evolved into one of the greater challenges in the transfer-portal era.
The offseason departures of scholarship quarterbacks Chris Oladokun (Samford), Brett Kean (Charlotte) and Octavious Battle (Tennessee State) have left Strong and first-year coordinator Kerwin Bell scrambling to find a reliable No. 3 guy behind incumbent Blake Barnett and redshirt freshman Jordan McCloud.
Freshman Jahquez Evans, the only other scholarship quarterback in camp, has taken third-team snaps, but so have sophomore junior college transfer Kirk Rygol, Gardner-Webb transfer Kaden Frost and former Miami walk-on Augie DeBiase.
“That’s where we’ve just got to continue to develop the guys that we have,” Strong said after Tuesday’s practice, the Bulls’ first in full pads.
“We have three or four guys there that are taking a lot of reps, so it’s more of us giving them the reps. Once they get the reps and they can learn the offense, then we can see where we are.”
A four-year starter at Jacksonville Raines, DeBiase (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) threw for 105 career touchdowns before walking on at UM. He played last year at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, completing 51 percent of his passes (53-for-104) for 793 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Rygol (6-0, 195), a 5,400-yard passer (and 1,300-yard rusher) at Nation Ford High in Fort Mill, S.C., redshirted last year in his lone season at ASA College ― a private, for-profit two-year program ― in Brooklyn.
Frost (6-3, 197), who threw for 6,162 yards and 44 touchdowns in four seasons at Naples Gulf Coast, redshirted as a freshman at Gardner-Webb last season.
Whether any of them ― including Evans ― have distinguished themselves through five practices is unclear.
“That first and second group really has great knowledge,” Bell said Monday.
“That third group is frustrating right now because (it’s) a lot of the freshmen, and they’re trying to pick it up; they’re way behind. But I really like our first and second group right now as far as where they’re at as far as our knowledge of the offense.”
Fan Fest set for Saturday
USF’s annual Fan Fest, where fans can get autographs and snap photos with football players and coaches, will be held Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Yuengling Center. Admission is free.
Free “Fan Fest” posters will be available at the event for use in obtaining autographs; outside items will not be permitted to be signed. Bulls football merchandise also will be on sale, and interactive fan events will be held.
Following the event, a youth flag football clinic will be held from 4-6 p.m. at the Morsani Football Practice Complex, across the street from the Yuengling Center. Dr. Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL, will conduct the event.
The clinic is open to the first 200 registrants; boys and girls from third to eighth grade are eligible. To register, go to this link.