USF set for first quarterback derby in three years

Brett Kean and Chris Oladokun are the early front-runners to replace three-year starter Quinton Flowers.
USF quarterbacks Brett Kean (7) and Chriis Oladokun throw to receivers during spring practice last March. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
USF quarterbacks Brett Kean (7) and Chriis Oladokun throw to receivers during spring practice last March. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Mar. 2, 2018

For all their high school feats, physical development and scrimmage exploits, USF quarterbacks Brett Kean and Chris Oladokun have yet to pass muster on a true collegiate stage.

Mainly because Quinton Flowers has commanded it the past three years.

Turned out, the greatest player in program history wasn't merely dazzling, he also was durable. Each of USF's last 38 games have featured one common denominator: Flowers starting.

And almost always finishing.

"You look at Oladokun, you look at Brett, two guys that have been in the program," Coach Charlie Strong said. "But it's just that Q … never was injured, so you never had a chance to say, 'Okay, this guy's gonna get a chance to start this game.'"

That chance finally arrives Monday, when the initial leg of the Bulls' first quarterback derby since 2015 commences.

Kean (a fourth-year junior) and Oladokun (a redshirt sophomore) will be joined Monday by walk-ons Kyle Trina and Mike Dean, but Strong has said incoming freshmen Octavious Battle and Jordan McCloud will get a chance to compete when they arrive in the summer.

And while Kean and Oladokun have a clear advantage in terms of maturity and knowledge of coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's veer-and-shoot system, their advantage in terms of college playing time is minimal.

They have Flowers' sturdiness — and minimal mop-up opportunities down the '17 stretch — to thank for that. Last season, neither appeared in any of the Bulls' last six games, five of which were decided by a touchdown or less. Before that, Kean had gone 7-of-11 for 64 yards in five appearances.

In 2016, he appeared in eight contests, going 18-of-26 for 129 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The lone pick occurred late in the 46-30 loss at Temple, when he was thrust into a third-and-17 situation inside his 10 (after Flowers tweaked a hamstring) and was picked off.

Oladokun appeared in one game last season (at East Carolina), completing his only pass for 12 yards.

Their respective practice resumes are a bit more extensive.

The 6-foot-1 Kean, believed to be more of a dual threat than Oladokun, was a three-star recruit who led Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward to a state title as a senior. He won the backup job in 2016 by clearly out-performing heralded UCLA transfer Asiantii Woulard in the preseason (Woulard later left the team).

Oladokun, a 6-2 Sickles High alumnus believed to possess a stronger arm, frequently elicited praise from former coach Willie Taggart as a true freshman in the '16 preseason. He appeared poised to battle Kean for the backup job last summer before being sidelined several weeks with mononucleosis.

"I think Chris is gonna be one heck of a football player for us," Taggart said two summers ago.

His time — or Kean's — has commenced.

"We'll let it play out because we just haven't seen enough of (them)," Strong said. "We're gonna have to do a lot of things on offense where we help the quarterback and just make sure we can protect him and give him a chance to be successful."

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.