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Transfer portal paying dividends for USF football

Charlie Strong’s depth chart is filling up with Power Five transfers

TAMPA — To those patient enough to listen, Charlie Strong indicated in early February he’d supplement his modest-sized 2019 signing class with transfers.

That declaration didn’t sit well with fans agitated by the 19-player class’ feeble ranking (fifth in the American Athletic Conference, per 247Sports) in the wake of a 7-6 season. Many wanted more of a splash on signing day.

Strong has countered by doing a veritable cannonball in the transfer pool.

With roughly 2 1/2 months remaining until fall camp, the Bulls have fortified their ’19 defensive depth chart with two ― and possibly three ― transfers from Power Five schools. And they may not be finished tapping into the portal.

The latest is East Bay High alumnus KJ Sails, who started 14 games in three seasons at North Carolina. A former four-star cornerback, Sails announced Saturday evening he’s transferring to USF.

If he clears the admissions process and his hardship waiver is granted, he’ll join safety Devin Studstill (Notre Dame) and linebacker Patrick Macon (Oklahoma State) in preseason camp. And he’ll strengthen what is evolving into a very strong portal pipeline for USF.

If Sails, Macon and Studstill all pan out this preseason, the Bulls’ two-deep chart in 2019 could feature as many as eight players who transferred from Power Five programs: quarterback Blake Barnett (Arizona State), tailback Jordan Cronkrite (Florida), tight end Jacob Mathis (Ole Miss), slot receiver Eddie McDoom (Michigan), offensive tackle Jarrett Hopple (Virginia Tech) and the defensive trio.

That’s nearly 20 percent of the two-deep chart.

Kinda removes some of the signing day sting, eh?

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

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