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USF could be close to settling on No. 3 QB

Walk-on Kirk Rygol has impressed coaches with his arm and savvy
USF walk-on quarterback Kirk Rygol is on his third college program in as many seasons. [Photo provided by USF Athletics]

TAMPA ― Two days after Bulls coach Charlie Strong confirmed freshman quarterback Jahquez Evans has moved to receiver, offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell indicated walk-on Kirk Rygol has a slight lead in the battle for the No. 3 job.

A 6-foot sophomore in the pro-style mold, Rygol redshirted last year in his lone season at ASA College (a private, for profit two-year program) in Brooklyn. He originally signed with Division II North Greenville (S.C.) State before heading north.

In 2016, he threw for more nearly 3,500 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior at Nation Ford High in Fort Mill, S.c. He has been battling former Miami walk-on Augie DeBiase and Gardner-Webb transfer Kaden Frost for the No. 3 spot behind Blake Barnett and Jordan McCloud.

“(Rygol) is the shortest of 'em all, but he’s got a natural little savvy about him,” Bell said Monday.

“He throws a nice ball, he’s got a really good arm, so he’s the best right now. Augie is a guy who really picks up the system well, he knows what he’s doing. So I’d say those two are right now the guys we’re trying to find out who can be our third guy.”

MORE USF: Now, Blake Barnett has the ingredients to lead USF

Meantime, Evans, recruited by USF’s prior offensive staff, embraced the move to receiver, Bell said. The nation’s No. 21 dual-threat QB from the Class of 2019 (per 247Sports), Evans was struggling somewhat with the passing complexities of Bell’s offense.

“He’s a very sharp kid, but he just hasn’t been in that kind of a system where he has to go through reads and things like that,” said Bell, adding Evans eventually could move back to quarterback in the offseason.

“He was more of a straight-spread, run the ball, throw it to one guy. It was gonna take him a while, so now we’re just gonna give him a chance (at receiver). He wanted to move, too.”

O-line rotation set

Eleven days before the season opener against No. 19 Wisconsin, first-year offensive coordinator Jeremy Darveau indicated his starting five is entrenched.

Barring injury, left tackle Billy Atterbury, left guard Demetris Harris, center Brad Cecil, right guard Donovan Jennings and right tackle Marcus Norman will take the field against the Badgers a week from Friday at Raymond James Stadium.

“Our starting five is as good as you’re gonna find right now,” Darveau said Monday.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Preseason AP top 25

Backing up Atterbury will be 6-3, 330-pound freshman Josh Blanchard, a three-star prospect from Miami Norland. Junior Jarrett Hopple, a 6-7 Virginia Tech transfer, will back up Norman.

Redshirt junior Michael Wiggs, who started the first six games at center last season, remains in the rotation as a center/guard hybrid, Darveau said.

“(Blanchard) has been just a heck of a player,” Darveau said.

“He’s got a big body, he’s long. He learns the plays quick and he’s gonna be a special, special player. Y’all can put my mark on that, check up with me in about a year and a half. He’ll be a pretty good player.”

Odds and ends

Barnett is on the expansive preseason watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. ... Atterbury on Blanchard: “He’ll tell you he’s the fastest offensive lineman we have. I’ll tell you different, but yeah, he’s a great athlete. He’s a great addition to the team and everyone loves being around him.” ... BetOnline.ag lists USF’s odds of winning the American Athletic Conference title at 8.5-to-1. UCF (1.25-to-1) is the favorite.

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