Much was made of tight end Elkanah Dillon’s breakout performance in USF’s opening game against Florida A&M last season when the then-freshman hauled in four catches for 126 yards and a score.
However, Dillon faded as the season went on, as he would catch only five more passes for 82 yards and a touchdown over the remainder of the year.
“Last year, we thought the world of Elkanah,” coach Willie Taggart said. “He’s only getting better and I think he’s going to be a beast before he leaves here.”
With former USF tight ends Sean Price and Marlon Pope leaving the Bulls after graduation in the offseason, sophomore tight end Dillon and red shirt freshman Mitchell Wilcox have an oppurtunity to win the starting jobs.
“I think we have two really good young tight ends in our system,” Taggart said. “And they’re both different, tall, long, rangy. Mitchell’s not as tall and rangy, but he’s so competitive, he runs really good routes and does a good job of attacking the football.
“Both of them are highly competitive and it’s good to see them competing against each other and working with each other while making each other better in training camp. I’m really impressed where both of them are and think both of them will have a good season for us.”
With his freshman year now behind him, Dillon said his experience of going through the daily struggles of a college football season has changed him for the better.
“It’s a grind,” Dillon said. “Everything’s not going to go in your favor all the time, but you have to fight that uphill battle.
I’m trying to set the standard and set the bar high so for those that are looking up to me, so when it’s up to them, they’ll play at a higher level also.”
Wilcox, who stands 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, will be operating alongside 6-foot-5, 256-pound Dillon in some of the two-tight end packages the Bulls have said they’ll feature this season.
That is sure to keep the competition for playing time a battle throughout the season.
“Mitchell, from the time we recruited him, we always felt like he was one of those highly competitive kids that just hates losing no matter what it is, even if it’s drinking water, or whatever it is he just loves to compete and he wants to win,” Taggart said. “You knew just having that mentality that he would work his tail off, you don’t have to ask him to.”
The tight end duo of Dillon and Wilcox will be unveiled when USF opens its season against Towson University on Sept. 3.
Quarterback Brett Kean has solidified his position as the second quarterback on the depth chart, jumping ahead of UCLA transfer Asiantii Woulard.
“If you want to know our number two quarterback, Brett Kean’s our number two for right now,” Taggart said. “Brett’s had an outstanding camp, he’s really, really stepped it up. He didn’t necessarily surprise us, but he definitely impressed us.”
Taggart added the position battle at center has played out well and he said the offensive line has responded well to both players at the position.
“They’re getting after it, the guys aren’t giving in to either one,” Taggart said. “When Mike (Galati) is in there, the offensive line moves and when Cam (Ruff) is in there, the line moves. So for me, it’s been pretty good because knowing whoever we decide to go with, we’re going to be very confident in whoever is leading our offense."