After losing senior linebackers Tyrone McKenzie and Brouce Mompremier from last year’s team, the USF coaching staff was searching for a new senior leader at linebacker.
Kion Wilson has filled that role with his play on the field.
“He’s a quiet guy. He doesn’t really say a lot, but when he speaks, everybody listens,” said defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. “Some guys lead by example more so than vocal leaders. He’s a guy that leads by example.”
Wilson gave an example during Saturday’s 17-7 victory over Florida State in Tallahassee.
Wilson had to leave during the middle of the game because of a split in his hand that tore his tissue and required 25 stitches. However, he came back shortly after and played the rest of the game.
“Third quarter, I’m standing on the sidelines and he comes up and says, ‘Coach, I’m ready’,” Tresey said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, they told me you were done’ … So we had a change of possession and I’m yelling for Kion and everybody’s looking at me going ‘You’re nuts, he’s out.’ … Here he comes: right out on the field taped up and ready to roll. There aren’t many people in this game that would come back out after getting 25 stitches. To come out and play like he did, he’s impressive.”
Wilson leads the team with 22 tackles this year. USF coach Jim Leavitt pointed to his senior linebacker as someone who can do positive things in the long run for a team.
“He does it by example, and that was certainly one of them,” said Leavitt, referring to Wilson’s return from injury during the game Saturday. “We need that. Those are the kinds of things it takes if you’re going to build a strong program.”
Tresey referred to Wilson as “a coach’s dream.”
“If you ever want to go to battle, you want that guy in your foxhole,” Tresey said.
No holding him back
Much of USF’s offense is predicated on how effective redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels is running the football.
Daniels gained 126 yards on the ground Saturday, including a 44-yard run in the first quarter. In his first full game since he was a senior in high school, Daniels ran the ball 23 times – 15 more than any other player on the team.
“I guess I did get kind of winded,” Daniels said.
Despite the fatigue or risk of injury that comes with Daniels running the ball, offensive coordinator Mike Canales said it would never affect what USF plans to do on offense.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Canales said Tuesday. “You can’t hold the offense down. You have to be very aggressive. We’re not going to change our mindset in what we do. If we start doing that, I feel like bad things will happen and we can’t afford that to happen. We want B.J. to be explosive.”
Canales said part of being aggressive on offense is taking what the opposing defense gives, which opened up a lot of running opportunities for Daniels on Saturday.
“What we do, it’s all predicated on what the (opposing) defense does,” he said. “A lot of times, the zone reads are supposed to be handed off, but if the defense is giving you the run, you have to take it.”
Canales remembers stint with Marrone
During Canales’ one-year in the NFL as New York Jets wide receivers coach in 2003, one of his colleagues was Syracuse coach Doug Marrone.
The Bulls open Big East play against Syracuse on Saturday. Marrone coached the Jets’ offensive line from 2002-05. In 2003, he and Canales shared a few memories.
“Road trips, we were always on the third bus,” Canales said. “Bishop Harris, our running backs coach, used the call it the “slappy bus” because we weren’t one of the dignitaries or what not. He was just kidding but it was just kind of funny. He even had hats made for all of us.”
Leavitt said after Tuesday’s practice that sophomore safety Jerrell Young, who broke his arm in the season opener and hasn’t played since, is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
Running back Jamar Taylor, who hasn’t played a down this year after suffering a knee sprain in fall camp, is “doing well and will start running on the field next week,” Leavitt said.
Senior wide receiver Jessie Hester practiced and “is getting closer,” Leavitt said. He said he’s still unsure if Hester will play against the Orange.