Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon acts like USF’s starter. But will he win the job?

Jeff Scott gave a clearer timeline on when he hopes to name the Bulls’ Week 1 starter.
USF quarterback Gerry Bohanon addressed reporters Wednesday during the Bulls' media day.
USF quarterback Gerry Bohanon addressed reporters Wednesday during the Bulls' media day. [ MATT BAKER | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Aug. 3, 2022

TAMPA — New USF quarterback Gerry Bohanon already knows the first thing he will do Thursday when he walks into the Bulls’ first-team huddle for the first time.

He’s going to smile.

“As a quarterback, when the guys see that poise, that confidence, that smile … I feel like it’s a sense of relief,” Bohanon said.

Bohanon’s poise, confidence and, yes, smile, were on full display Wednesday in his first news conference since transferring from Baylor. Seven minutes behind a lectern at media day were enough to see why the Bulls had to take the former Bears passer and why he’s a serious threat to unseat Timmy McClain as USF’s starter.

Related: Why USF football believes Bulls are poised to break through in 2022

He said the right things about wanting to be “the best version of myself every day.” He showed passion, describing the chills he felt during Tuesday’s team meeting. He talked up the competition among quarterbacks with everything from X’s and O’s discussions to offseason workouts. He deflected praise and, clearly, believes in himself and the locker room.

None of which should surprise coach Jeff Scott.

Scott wasn’t looking to add a transfer quarterback this offseason and would only pursue a perfect fit — a knowledgeable veteran who has played at a high level and would add immediate leadership without damaging the culture he has spent two years building.

“I think adding Gerry to that room has checked all of those boxes,” Scott said.

Gerry Bohanon had a successful 2021 season at Baylor before transferring to USF.
Gerry Bohanon had a successful 2021 season at Baylor before transferring to USF. [ MATTHEW HINTON | Associated Press ]

Left unsaid: Bohanon is talented, too. He started 12 games for the Big 12 champions last year, accounting for 27 touchdowns (18 passing, nine rushing). He went the first six games without throwing an interception.

But he lost his starting job in the spring to Blake Shapen, prompting him to enter the transfer portal. USF got on his radar through connections from a strength coach. A Zoom conversation led to a visit that exceeded his expectations.

“For me, it just felt like the right place,” Bohanon said.

Bohanon made an immediate impact. Scott remembers a staffer coming by the office on Memorial Day to see one car in the parking lot: Bohanon’s.

Related: What will USF Bulls gain from an on-campus football stadium?

The Bulls graded every offseason workout to come up with the team’s grit rankings. Bohanon was second on the team, behind only fifth-year starting center Brad Cecil.

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Adding Bohanon has pushed McClain to work harder “to try to get ahead, just try to stay ahead” in a quarterback competition that will take a different form this year.

Timmy McClain started nine games for USF last season.
Timmy McClain started nine games for USF last season. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

In Scott’s first two seasons, he used the non-conference schedule to choose a starter before the AAC opener. This time, Scott intends to let McClain and Bohanon alternate practices with the first team in hopes of announcing a starter soon after the Aug. 13 scrimmage.

Scott is changing his approach in part because he feels more confident in both quarterbacks than he did either of the last two years. Bohanon helped take Baylor to the Sugar Bowl, while Scott has raved about McClain’s offseason growth after starting nine games last year.

Scott also wants whoever wins the starting job to have time to mesh with the rest of the experienced offense and to establish himself in the locker room.

“For us to take that next step,” Scott said, “we’ve got to have that quarterback stand up and be able to lead our offense.”

Facilities update

Scott has seen some of the proposals for USF’s on-campus stadium but can’t say much as the bidding process unfolds. He did, however, stress that “it’s not whether it’s going to happen or not. It’s going to happen.”

Scott said turf will soon be installed in the indoor practice facility. He’s hopeful the Bulls can begin practicing there around their Oct. 22 open date.

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