Upon releasing his inaugural 2020 depth chart Thursday, new USF coach Jeff Scott repeated he never watched a snippet of film from the Bulls' dreadful 2019 season.
“Because I wanted it to truly be all about from the time we showed up to all the way through,” he said.
That clean-slate approach benefited at least one local player who struggled on the field last season, and another who struggled off it the year before.
As expected, Scott confirmed third-year sophomore quarterback Jordan McCloud, who grimaced his way through wrist and shoulder injuries in 10 starts during last year’s 4-8 debacle, will start Saturday’s ’20 opener against the Citadel.
He’ll be joined in the lineup by 6-foot-4 fifth-year senior DeVontres Odoms-Dukes, a Wharton High alumnus who makes his first collegiate start after catching only four passes last season and being suspended most of 2018.
The two are among eight former bay area prep standouts listed as starters. McCloud, a Plant alumnus, held off two transfers — former Armwood star Noah Johnson (Alcorn State) and Cade Fortin (North Carolina) — for the chance to take the season’s first snap. Scott, however, reiterated the competition is ongoing.
“Really, Jordan has done an exceptional job,” said Scott, who’d like to have a starter clearly established when the Bulls travel to Cincinnati for their conference opener Oct. 3.
“We brought in two very talented transfer quarterbacks onto campus here. If you’re a returning quarterback, you either go one way or the other; you kind of rise to meet the challenge or maybe you get your feelings hurt and kind of go backwards. And from Day One, Jordan never blinked and has done a really good job of leading our team.”
Dukes, who has only eight career catches, met with Scott upon the coach’s arrival in Tampa in early January, indicating he was pondering a fresh start elsewhere. Scott assured Dukes he’d get a fresh start with his staff, adding his previous program (Clemson) has a history of success with rangy receivers.
“At the very first day of fall camp, we asked the offensive players to write down who they see as the leaders ... and 'Tres Dukes had the most votes of the entire offense," Scott said.
"So I think that says a lot about him, his maturity, his focus. If he continues to show what I’ve seen from him on the practice field, compared to the guys that I’ve coached in the past ... I believe he has a chance to play at the next level.”
Other locals in the starting lineup include kicker Spencer Shrader (Newsome), who out-dueled Arkansas transfer Jared Sackett — a member of the ’20 Groza Award watch list — in a competition not decided until earlier this week. Shrader hit all 12 of his PATs last season, but was 4-for-9 on field goals, converting none longer than 34 yards.
The remaining bay area starters are slot receiver Bryce Miller (East Lake), left tackle Donovan Jennings (Gaither), cornerback KJ Sails (East Bay), cornerback Mike Hampton (Hillsborough) and strong safety Bentlee Sanders (Tampa Catholic).