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USF’s KJ Sails cleared to play this season

The North Carolina transfer is expected to start Friday against No. 19 Wisconsin
USF cornerback KJ Sails, an East Bay High alumnus, transferred from North Carolina earlier this year. [USF Athletics] [USF Athletics]
USF cornerback KJ Sails, an East Bay High alumnus, transferred from North Carolina earlier this year. [USF Athletics] [USF Athletics]
Published Aug. 28, 2019
Updated Aug. 28, 2019

KJ Sails' four-month confinement in NCAA limbo has come to a merciful and satisfying end.

Coach Charlie Strong announced Wednesday via Twitter that Sails, a former North Carolina cornerback who transferred in May, has been cleared to play this season.

RELATED: What’s it like to be in the transfer portal? ‘It’s a lot’

A former four-star recruit from East Bay High, Sails is expected to start Friday against No. 19 Wisconsin. Strong indicated Monday that if Sails is cleared, he’d line up at the corner spot opposite Hillsborough High alumnus Mike Hampton, with former Tampa Catholic standout Bentlee Sanders the nickel back.

“He brings a lot of energy, a lot of passion," Hampton said Tuesday. "On defense, we feed off his energy. He’ll be big for us and he’ll make a big impact.”

Sails, a junior and father of a 2-year-old son, opted for a fresh start last winter after the previous Tar Heels staff was fired and two of his family members passed away. He announced his transfer to USF in May, and sought a hardship waiver from the NCAA allowing him to play immediately instead of sitting out a season.

That waiver evidently has been granted.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.


  1. Former USF coach Charlie Strong (left), greeting Alabama coach Nick Saban at a 2017 summer football camp on the Bulls campus, reportedly has joined Saban's staff in an analyst role. [Joey Knight]
  2. USF junior David Collins (0) drives past East Carolina's Tristen Newton during the Bulls' 73-68 overtime victory Wednesday at the Yuengling Center. [Photo provided by USF Athletics] [USF Athletics]
  3. Tampa Bay Vipers QB/RB Quinton Flowers (9) loads up a pass play during the second quarter of the XFL home opener between the Tampa Bay Vipers and the Houston Roughnecks on Feb. 22. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. USF coach Brian Gregory reacts to a call during the first half against Connecticut on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Storrs, Conn. [STEPHEN DUNN  |  AP]
  5. USF's David Collins (0) now has 1,220 career points, good for 10th place on the school's career scoring list. [STEPHEN DUNN  |  AP]
  6. Former USF tight end Mitch Wilcox speaks after the 2019 USF spring game. [ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  7. Connecticut's Jalen Gaffney (0) and South Florida's David Collins (0) battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn) [STEPHEN DUNN  |  AP]
  8. USF guard Laquincy Rideau drives to the basket between Houston's Nate Hinton, left, and Fabian White during a game on Jan. 26, 2020, in Houston. [MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP]
  9. USF athletic director Michael Kelly (left) and first-year football coach Jeff Scott have confirmed the Bulls' spring football game will remain on campus. [JOEY KNIGHT | TAMPA BAY TIMES] [Joey Knight]
  10. USF coach Brian Gregory's club dropped its third consecutive game Thursday, falling 65-55 at Wichita State. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  11. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) smashes into LSU Tigers safety John Battle (26) in the second quarter. (Bronte Wittpenn, Times) [Times]
  12. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter in a game against LSU at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, October 6, 2018.  [Times]