All in the extended family

No matter what, Carlton Hill just wants to play.

Same with Pat Julmiste.

Ditto for Courtney Denson.

Though with all of them eyeing the starting quarterback job for the USF football team, it may be tough.

Sure, Hill could play wide receiver, as could Denson.

But who wants to give up without a fight?

All three players know this season isn’t going to be easy – the move to the Big East and more competition amongst positions are just two concerns – and each has been working harder than expected during the fall practices before the start of the season.

And with a 1,107-mile trip just days away, in front of a crowd larger than any to ever watch the Bulls play – Beaver Stadium holds 107,282 – you’d think the three would be stepping over each other to get ahead of one another.

You’d be wrong though.

They call themselves a family – brothers of sorts, who would rather work together than against each other.

“I want to be part of a legacy that I believe that we have a chance to start,” said Hill, referring to choosing USF over Miami during the recruiting season. “Every day in practice I just love to be around the guys. To me, that’s the kind of relationship you have to have, especially for a team.

“(Pat, Courtney and I) are a family. I love being a part of that. The quarterbacks help each other out a lot. Pat, he helps me out a whole lot.”

Julmiste has taken Hill under his wing in the short time the Miami native has been at USF, even claiming they were like brothers. But with all families with more than one sibling – there are actually six players at the quarterback position, adding Matt Grothe, who will probably red shirt this season, sophomore Anthony Severino and Indiana transfer Grant Gregory, who has to sit out this season – there will eventually come the rivalry.

“We’re so close-knit that everybody just hangs out with everybody,” said Julmiste, who passed for 1,570 yards last season. “We’re just like a big ol’ family. (Hill’s) not my little brother, but I see him as my little brother. So I’ve got to show him around and show him the ropes. He’s got to be shown how things are done.

“But competition – I look at competition as making everyone better because it’s going to be everywhere. And the best guy’s going to play. There’s competition on the field, and when we get off the field we’re close friends again.”

Newly designated offensive coordinator Rod Smith, who would have to be the father of the quarterback brothers, likes what he’s seen from his so-called offspring, especially from his extremely talented backup Hill, who claims he “never really had a quarterbacks coach in high school” and “learned the position” himself.

“(This) is a big challenge for him,” Smith said. “But he’s right. He’d done it all himself. He’s a tremendous talent. He’s one of the most athletically gifted people I’ve been around. And it’s going to take an adjustment because college ball is a different game.

“When you’re new and (the playbook) is new to you, even (if) simple terminology is completely Japanese to you, (he’s) just got to take one play at a time.”

And while the oldest brother, Julmiste, certainly has been the most vocal and dominant leader of the brothers, Smith has had his share in raising the younger siblings.

“It’s been a combination of both (of us),” Smith said. “But Pat’s really been the one who’s talked to him at a lot at the voluntary workouts. It’s been a real plus to see that between the two and the whole group.”

Then there’s Denson.

The sophomore of the family is in his first year with the Bulls, looking to get to some playing time. He transferred from Auburn after Tommy Tuberville and crew tried to convert him to defensive back a year ago. He resisted, more or less – not because he didn’t want to be a team player, but because he just didn’t know how.

“I should have never picked Auburn. Period,” said Denson, a graduate of Central High in Miami. “I was just listening to everyone’s opinion but (mine), like my high school coaches and stuff. I never sat down and evaluated my (choice of) schools like I should.

“(USF has) a chance for me to play quarterback. (Auburn) just liked my athletic ability and here, USF is giving me a chance while I’m closer to home and my family can watch me play.”

But Auburn’s 12-0 record last season doesn’t bother Denson, who doesn’t really miss a team he claims wasn’t all that close. “They were just a bunch of individuals and not a family like here (at USF).

“It wasn’t tough (watching Auburn last season). I never played defense in my whole life and that’s where they wanted me. So, no, it wasn’t tough at all.”

With all the possibilities for the Bulls this season, one could be that there might be a couple different starting quarterbacks. Though it won’t matter.

Each player knows exactly whom they are up against and knows the toughest fight won’t be against the opposing team, but against each other.

Against family members.

“We’re like the tightest on the team: the quarterback spot,” Denson said. “But it’s like, you have to outshine your competition. You try to beat it out, even though you’re close. Most people will think it’s a lot of jealousy and envy, but it’s not. We’re all in the same struggle.”