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USF expected to dismiss 11 suspended players, 4 assistants

Shortly after Thursday night's loss to Marshall, coach Charlie Strong insisted he would clean house.
USF coach Charlie Strong, left, and defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary, left, having a discussion  during the fourth quarter while trailing Marshall Thundering Herd in the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, December 20, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
USF coach Charlie Strong, left, and defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary, left, having a discussion during the fourth quarter while trailing Marshall Thundering Herd in the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, December 20, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Dec. 22, 2018
Updated Dec. 22, 2018

Eleven USF players, including three receivers and two tailbacks, were suspended from Thursday night's Gasparilla Bowl against Marshall, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Additionally, as many as four Bulls assistant coaches are expected to be dismissed, a source indicated Saturday.

Bulls coach Charlie Strong didn't immediately respond to a phone message Saturday, but told Times columnist Martin Fennelly he planned a personnel house-cleaning immediately following Thursday's 38-20 loss to Marshall.

"I'm telling you right now, we're going to clean up this whole program," Strong said. "A lot of guys will be leaving. We need a good washing."

None of the players suited up for the contest, leading to widespread speculation about whether their absence from the lineup stemmed from discipline or health reasons. The source indicated the players were suspended for unspecified violations of team rules.

Those suspended: WR Darnell Salomon, WR DeVontres Dukes, WR Deangelo Antoine, RB Elijah Mack, RB Duran Bell, DB Donelle Thomas, DB Naytron Culpepper, DT Brandon Boyce, DT Armon Williams, DL Marquies Price and OL Jeremiah Stafford.

None are likely to return in 2019, the source indicated.

Three other players — DT Kevin Bronson, WR Zion Roland and OT Eric Mayes — were sidelined by injury.

The issues with the players began following the Bulls' 57-36 loss at Houston, which started a six-game losing streak to end the season.

This purge of sorts would hardly be the first of Strong's career.

He dismissed nine Texas players early in his three-year tenure with the Longhorns, and got rid of three Bulls players — who had been arrested on various charges — before coaching his first game at USF.

Four of the suspended players (Salomon, Dukes, Mack and Antoine) were recruited by Willie Taggart. Boyce and Price transferred from Duke following the 2016 season.

Toss in fourth-year junior QB Brett Kean's announcement that he intends to transfer from the program (in good standing), and the Bulls suddenly possess considerable scholarship space.

USF signed 19 players when the NCAA's early signing period commenced Wednesday.

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