The most viable candidate to replace outgoing Bulls PK Emilio Nadelman surfaced not in spring practice, but in cyberspace.
Tennessee State freshman Coby Weiss, a Gainesville Buchholz graduate, announced via Twitter last week that he is transferring to USF, where it is believed he will be eligible immediately.
Not surprisingly, the news elicited a collective whoop from the fan base because (A) Weiss has college experience, and (B) the spring kicking candidates were underwhelming. But once the glee subsides, just what is USF getting from their new foot?
We gathered some intel on that.
Weiss (last name rhymes with slice) attempted only four field goals (missing his only try from 40-plus yards) as a TSU freshman, but for good reason. The Tigers' starter, Lane Clark, was a 2016 Division I-AA second-team All-American, and one of only three players in the entire NCAA to make at least four field goals of 50 or more yards that season.
In 2017, Clark finished 6-for-9 from 40 or more yards, but was dinged up for part of the year. When injured, Weiss stepped in, hitting two of four field goals, converting all four of his PATs and handling kickoffs for four games.
Before that, he flourished at Buchholz, earning Class 7A all-state honors two of his three varsity seasons and hitting nine of 10 field goals as a senior.
"The kid was unbelievable," veteran Bobcats coach Mark Whittemore said.
"He probably had three — at least three — kicks with less than five seconds on the clock in his career. Just one of those kids that wasn't just making kicks in the second quarter, he was nailing balls his sophomore, junior and senior year with little to no time left on the clock. That's the type of kid he is."
Among those clutch kicks: a 40-yarder in the waning seconds to lift Buchholz to a a 23-20 victory against rival Gainesville High in 2014, ending the Bobcats' five-year losing streak to the Hurricanes.
So why no Division I-A offers? Whittemore said Weiss received some overtures, but nothing that ever materialized. Academics wasn't a factor; Whittemore confirmed Weiss is an outstanding student from a solid family (his younger brother currently plays for Buchholz).
"I think he was overlooked frankly by Power Five schools, but he has the personality where he's not gonna give up," Whittemore said.
"He took his trade to Tennessee State and got bigger and stronger. Last time I saw the ball go off his foot when he was here training late this spring, it was obvious that he's gone from being a very, very accurate kicker to also having a big-league leg.
"USF's gonna get the whole package is what I'm saying."