1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

USF hoping for ruling on KJ Sails any day now

The East Bay High alumnus is seeking an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play in 2019.
USF cornerback KJ Sails, an East Bay High alumnus, transferred from North Carolina earlier this year. [USF Athletics]
Published Aug. 26

TAMPA ― In what might be described as a gesture of wishful thinking, North Carolina transfer KJ Sails is listed on USF’s first game-week depth chart of 2019.

But at least for now, the junior cornerback continues his agonizing interval in NCAA limbo.

Bulls coach Charlie strong said he hopes to learn the ’19 fate of Sails, who is seeking a waiver from the NCAA, as soon as today. If granted, Sails, an East Bay High alumnus and father of a 2-year-old son, can play immediately.

MORE USF: USF hopes it’s not all downhill Friday for Jonathan Taylor

“I think (NCAA officials) meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so those decisions are made.” Strong said Monday at his normal game-week press conference.

“With us playing on Friday, we’ll probably get a decision before Friday because I think what they try to do is, you get a decision before you play that game.”

The reason for the NCAA’s seemingly slow action regarding Sails’ case is anyone’s guess. Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell’s name appeared in the NCAA transfer portal in early January, and his waiver was granted in March.

Just last week, UCF linemen Tony Gray (Ole Miss transfer) and Cam Goode (Virginia Tech) both learned they had received waivers allowing them to play right away.

If Sails, who started 14 games over the previous two seasons at UNC, is declared eligible, he likely would start at the corner spot opposite Hillsborough High alumnus Mike Hampton. In that scenario, former Tampa Catholic standout Bentlee Sanders would start at nickel.

“It’s been fun to just watch how (Sanders) has developed these last few weeks,” Strong said.

Sawtelle sidelined again

The anticipated return of Nico Sawtelle apparently is on hold ― again.

A senior middle linebacker who missed the last seven games of ’18 with neck and shoulder issues, Sawtelle was injured at practice last week and likely won’t play against Wisconsin, Strong indicated.

Oklahoma State transfer Patrick Macon (6-foot-3, 245 pounds), who drew raves through most of preseason camp, is listed No. 2 on the depth chart.

“(Sawtelle) got banged up last week so he’s the only one that’s played some that’s not on the two-deep (chart) right now for us,” Strong said. “But everyone else, we’re healthy and we’re ready to go."

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Why Willie Taggart named James Blackman FSU’s starting quarterback

Odds and ends

Raymond James Stadium is nearing a lower-bowl sellout (48,007) for Friday’s game, which includes 10,000 seats held for students, according to USF. ... No. 19 Wisconsin is the highest-ranked home-opening foe in USF’s 23-season history. ... The Bulls have won five consecutive season openers. ... Senior Mitch Wilcox needs four receptions Friday to break the school’s career record for tight ends (75) held by Sean Price. ... Sounds as if Strong will stick with his plan to use Newsome High alumnus Spencer Shrader for longer field goals (40 or more yards) and junior Coby Weiss for shorter kicks. Punter Trent Schneider is the holder. ... Walk-on Bryce Miller, an East Lake alumnus, is listed as the No. 3 slot receiver on the depth chart behind Johnny Ford and Eddie McDoom. “They’re all great playmakers and they’re all gonna be on the field at some point,” quarterback Blake Barnett said.


“I think there were a lot of practices last year where guys were just kind of cruising. When it gets into the middle of camp, fatigue really sets in. ... Last year, they kind of just put it in cruise control and were just kind of coasting through. I don’t think that’s the case this year. I think we really worked.” ― Barnett


  1. USF Bulls guard Elisa Pinzan (4) drive to the basket past Jacksonville Dolphins guard Mariah Batz (13) during the first half at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The contest in Waco highlights yet another daunting non-conference Bulls schedule.
  2. Cincinnati running back Michael Warren II (3) barrels through USF's defense for a first down during the fourth quarter of the Bearcats' 20-17 win Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls and Bearcats will continue meeting on a home-and-home basis through at least 2021. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    For now, USF retains home-and-home matchups with four East Division foes
  3. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) leaps to avoid UCF defensive back Mike Hughes (19) and during the second half of the Knights' 49-42 triumph in Orlando in 2017. This year's game, also at Orlando's Spectrum Stadium, kicks off at 8 p.m. on Nov. 29. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
    The game hasn’t kicked off in the evening since 2015
  4. USF Bulls place kicker Spencer Shrader (32) misses the field goal to take the lead over the Cincinnati Bearcats during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The Bulls miss four field goals of their own in a 20-17 loss.
  5. USF running back Jordan Cronkrite, center, is tackled by Cincinnati linebacker Joel Dublanko during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday night. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Journal: The University of Florida transfer now is among USF’s top 10 rushers of all time.
  6. Connecticut's Evina Westbrook, left, sits with her new teammates, unable to play as a transfer student because the NCAA denied her immediate eligibility. STEPHEN DUNN  |  AP
    Geno Auriemma hints that Evina Westbrook’s situation with the Vols was unhealthy.
  7. USF senior Evelyne Viens, seen here during a match against Florida in August, had a hat trick in Friday's rematch, a 4-2 Bulls triumph in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. [USF Athletics] TRAVIS PENDERGRASS  |  UF_TP
    The senior from Canada sets an AAC single-season goals record in the Bulls’ 4-2 triumph
  8. USF players celebrate with students after their 27-23 victory against BYU at Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 12. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Students now can earn points for each Bulls sporting event they attend.
  9. A Florida Gator fans yells during the first half of the Nov. 2 game against Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators travel to Columbia, Mo. for a noon Saturday game against Missouri. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including Florida-Missouri, USF-Cincinnati and Florida State-Alabama State.
  10. By all indications, USF coach Charlie Strong has managed to keep his team unified during a miserable season. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    By all indications, Charlie Strong’s team hasn’t become fragmented despite a 4-5 season.