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Tracking USF’s spring position changes

No fewer than eight Bulls are playing new positions this spring
CHRIS URSO   |   Times
USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle is seen during practice at the school Monday, March 5, 2018 in Tampa.
CHRIS URSO | Times USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle is seen during practice at the school Monday, March 5, 2018 in Tampa.
Published Apr. 12, 2018

Casual USF fans may be unaware Bulls coaches have been moving players around like mad this spring, creating the potential for utter confusion at Saturday's spring game. Because we'd hate for that to happen, we've cobbled together this small guide on players who have made the most noticeable position switches. (Note: All changes remain in the experimental phase.)

Chris Barr
Previous position: Receiver
Current position: Cornerback
How it's going: Good, from what we've gathered. Barr, one of the team's fastest players, moonlighted on defense at Jacksonville Trinity Christian and seems a natural. He probably has a better chance at logging quality reps on defense than he does at receiver, where a depth-chart logjam exists.

DeVontres Dukes
Previous position: Receiver
Current position: Free safety
How it's going: Too early to say. Dukes approached coaches about moving to safety in late March, and he barely played the position at Wharton High, Wildcats coach David Mitchell said. Still, the Bulls love rangy, fast rovers, and Dukes (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) fits that mold. They're also sorely lacking in safety depth. "If the move doesn't work, he'll go back to wide receiver and I'm sure he'll pick up right where he left off," defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said.

Related: Wharton alum DeVontres Dukes latest to swap positions for USF

Ronnie Hoggins
Previous position: Cornerback
Current position: Nickel back
How it's going: After 28 career starts at corner, Hoggins moves inside to replace potential NFL draftee Deatrick Nichols. At 190 pounds, Nichols was about 10 pounds heavier than Hoggins, who said he intends to play at about 180. Seems light for a guy who could be counted on for run stoppage. "I played it last year toward the end of the season, probably about four games," Hoggins said. "It's home to me, it's nothing new."

Khalid McGee
Previous position: Strong safety
Current position: Weakside linebacker
How it's going: Actually, McGee slid down late last season and flourished (team-high 10 tackles at UCF). "So we just moved him full-time, and we move around enough that he's not gonna have to take on 300-pounders every snap," Jean-Mary said. "And obviously he's a great athlete as far as the running and the hitting part and playing in space, which is what football has turned into."

Nico Sawtelle
Previous position: Weakside linebacker
Current position: Middle linebacker
How it's going: Fairly well, it appears. Though it wouldn't hurt Sawtelle to add some bulk to his 225-pound frame (and intends to), Jean-Mary said the two linebacker spots in his scheme are virtually interchangeable. Question is, can he quarterback the defense and command respect the way predecessor Auggie Sanchez did?

Related: USF spring report: Defensive position swaps continue

Other changes
Naytron Culpepper (cornerback to safety)
Marlon Gonzalez (defensive tackle to offensive line)
Darrien Grant (defensive end to defensive tackle)