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Expect USF’s latest quarterback derby to stretch well into the summer

At least three candidates, including veteran Gerry Bohanon, won’t practice this spring.
USF senior quarterback Gerry Bohanon, the 2022 opening-night starter, still is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and won't participate in spring drills.
USF senior quarterback Gerry Bohanon, the 2022 opening-night starter, still is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and won't participate in spring drills. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Feb. 2|Updated Feb. 3

TAMPA — Any optimism harbored by beleaguered USF fans comes with caution these days. The Bulls’ stampede into September feels more like a gallop into the great unknown.

Once again, the program is in transition: new coach, new staff, new system and a roster rife with new faces. Just how it all looks on game day, and whether it makes a splash or a splat, remains anyone’s guess. At this point, the only hard-bound certainty is the same one that has existed for roughly a half-decade now.

A quarterback derby.

The Bulls, who have had a different opening-day starter each of the last four seasons, again enter spring drills with no solid No. 1 and no determination expected until late summer.

“It will be a wide-open competition at every single spot,” new coach Alex Golesh said Wednesday. “We were 130th in the country (actually 131st) on defense. What were we on offense? ... Middle of the pack? Yeah, it will be wide open at every spot.”

Considering the program has totaled four wins in the last three seasons, few will argue that approach. Still, this latest derby comes with complications: At least three candidates won’t participate in spring drills.

Senior Gerry Bohanon, the Baylor transfer who started the first seven games last season — to mixed reviews — before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, still is rehabbing and won’t be available. Neither will 6-foot-5 veteran Katravis Marsh, who has played in 14 career games but fractured his neck last season against SMU.

“But I will give Gerry a bunch of credit here,” Golesh said. “He’s been working as hard as anybody to get back and has been in there maybe more than anybody else. Stayed over Christmas to be here, so a pretty neat commitment from him. He’s a pro, and give him a ton of credit.

“And give Marsh a ton of credit, too. I mean, the young man broke his neck. I don’t know what was said that happened, but he broke his neck and sits in front in every meeting and smiles and has hosted recruits — I want to say four out of the five weekends we had kids here. So has Gerry, so give those guys a ton of credit. They are all-in to helping us get better.”

Nonetheless, the competition can’t begin in earnest until one or both are fully cleared. Additionally, late signee Israel “Izzy” Carter, a California prep standout whom Golesh called “as ready-made of a high school guy as you’re going to get,” won’t arrive on campus until May.

Those absences mean redshirt freshman Byrum Brown, who tantalized the fan base in the final two games of 2022 (565 total yards, seven TDs) will get the opportunity to build on that momentum. He’ll be joined by classmate Gunnar Smith and Coastal Carolina transfer Bryce Archie, who barely played for the Chanticleers last season but was the 29th-ranked pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2022 by Rivals.

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“The hard part in the spring is going to be that two guys that have played are not going through it,” Golesh said. “So for us, you’re going to leave spring a little bit still wondering exactly where you are with a guy that’s started three years’ worth of college football games through it.

“But like every other spot, they’ll compete. They compete at every spot. Coaches are going to compete.”

Congested QB room

A look at USF’s scholarship quarterbacks

As freshman last season, USF quarterback Byrum Brown sparkled in two late-season starts, nearly rallying the Bulls past UCF in the 2022 finale.
As freshman last season, USF quarterback Byrum Brown sparkled in two late-season starts, nearly rallying the Bulls past UCF in the 2022 finale. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Bryce Archie, R-Fr., 6-3/205

Coastal Carolina transfer totaled nearly 3,000 yards, 33 TDs as senior at Powder Springs (Georgia) McEachern High

Gerry Bohanon, Sr., 6-3/226

Baylor transfer started USF’s first seven games last year before season-ending shoulder injury

Byrum Brown, R-Fr., 6-3/206

Started final two games in 2022, totaling 565 yards and seven touchdowns in those contests

Israel “Izzy” Carter, Fr., 6-1/186

Former Arizona State pledge threw for 35 TDs, only two interceptions his final three prep seasons in California

Katravis Marsh, Jr., 6-5/232

Rangy veteran has shown promise in spurts but is coming off surgery to repair fractured neck

Gunnar Smith, R-Fr., 6-3/205

Threw for 2,180 yards, 22 TDs as a senior in 2021 at Lake Mary High, which finished 10-2

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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