Coach Jeff Scott announced Thursday that five additional players have decided not to play this season due to concerns over coronavirus.
Senior wide receiver Eddie McDoom, sophomore defensive back Eugene Bowman, Michigan grad transfer linebacker Devin Gil and two redshirt freshmen — tight end Thomas Nance and running back Josh Berry — have opted out.
They join grad student wide receiver Jernard Phillips and sophomore defensive tackle John Waller who had opted out prior to the start of fall camp Friday.
Per AAC and USF guidelines, all seven players who have opted out will continue to have their scholarships honored for the 2021 season.
Scott said he understands that every situation is unique and that each player who opts out will continue to have his and the team’s support.
“In order for us to have a chance to move forward safely and play, it’s very important that all of the players have an opportunity to opt out if they don’t feel comfortable playing for whatever reason,” Scott said. “Each young man has different situations. Some of our players, maybe have a young child. Maybe they have a family that has some certain underlying conditions, so everybody has their own situation.”
Gil and Bowman are fathers to young children. Berry redshirted in 2019 and is coming back from an ACL injury, according to Scott.
Being down seven players isn’t ideal, especially because it means a lack of depth in key positions, but Scott’s optimism isn’t marred by his players’ decisions.
“It’s really just being transparent, communicating with the guys and then being respectful for each guy’s decision,” he said. “I feel very blessed and fortunate for the guys that are here and then continuing to work every day.”
The players have also echoed Scott’s support of those who have opted out.
“I respect them and I respect their decision, I respect everything that they do,” junior linebacker Dwayne Boyles said. “They want to opt out because they don’t really feel safe with the COVID going around. Maybe they got family issues. Maybe they got health issues … I respect their decision.”
As players choose to opt out, USF continues to forge on with plans for its season. The consensus is that the team is excited to continue practicing and eager to get to the season ahead, especially after the team’s first time in full pads since last season’s game against UCF.
“We haven’t been in full pads since November, and we were hyped up about that this whole week,” junior offensive lineman Brad Cecil said. “Everyone’s been super excited, super pumped up. Everybody’s in great spirits.”
The Bulls will get a chance to take another step toward the season with a scrimmage at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, according to Scott.
“These things could change at any point, but for now, it’s just kind of staying locked in,” Scott said. “I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we’ll have a chance to go scrimmage Saturday at Raymond James, that’d be awesome from where we’ve been the last 160 days or so, that would be a great feat for us.
“We’ll just kind of take it one day at a time after that.”