With the 2011 Spring Game set to kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium, The Oracle looks at key players and positions to focus on: B.J. Daniels – #7: Daniels is listed as the current starting quarterback, primarily because of his playing experience, but will feel the pressure from Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd behind him. After a successful freshman season as a primarily running quarterback, Daniels struggled as a pocket passer last year. Coach Skip Holtz said the reason restrictions were placed on his running abilities last year was a lack of depth behind him, but with Eveld earning a scholarship and early-enrollee Floyd now on campus, Daniels will have more freedom to use his legs for offense.
Darrell Scott – #20: Ranked as the No. 1 running back prospect of the 2008 class, Scott spent one season playing at Colorado before transferring to USF. Having sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Scott – along with fellow transfer Dontae Aycock from Auburn – is now ready to make his mark on the program. On the 2011 mid-spring depth chart released by Holtz on Wednesday, Scott is listed as the No. 2 running back behind redshirt junior Demetris Murray – USF’s leading returning rusher from a year ago.
“I think Darrell Scott is doing a lot of good things,” Holtz said. “I think he’s one of the newcomers that are definitely going to make an impact.”
Sterling Griffin – #17: Griffin exploded onto the college football scene as a freshman with a 73-yard touchdown catch in USF’s historic win over Florida State in Tallahassee in 2008. Griffin was forced to miss all of last season with an ankle injury. He is now ready to step into the role of USF’s No. 1 receiver – a position he is listed at on the mid-spring depth chart.
“It’s nice to see Sterling back,” Holtz said. “Obviously it’s one of those feel-good stories with a guy who’s been through everything he’s been through with his ankle. I think he’s really doing a nice job.”
Defensive ends: In the last two seasons, USF has seen a lot of talent depart from the defensive end position. George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul were both NFL Draft picks that played a significant amount of minutes as NFL rookies. Craig Marshall and David Bedford have also departed and are preparing for the 2011 NFL Draft. Redshirt sophomore Ryne Giddins and redshirt senior Patrick Hampton are currently listed as the starting defensive ends, but both have talent behind them in Claude Davis and Julius Forte.
“Ryne Giddins is a guy that has a chance to really make an impact, to go from being a role player to a difference maker,” Holtz said. “I think Claude Davis is a guy that’s really stepping into that mix and doing some really good things and has a chance to be an impact player for this team.”
Linebackers: A trio of returning veterans, Sam Barrington (strongside), Mike Lanaris (middle) and DeDe Lattimore (weakside), is currently listed as the starters tasked with replacing a corps that lost defensive captain Jacquian Williams and Sabbath Joseph. The arrival of Mike Jeune – a transfer from Independence Community College – and redshirt freshman Reshard Cliett has helped to add depth.
Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder has worked on making sure each player is able to play in multiple linebacker positions.
“I really like Cliett and Jeune at the linebacker position,” Holtz said. “There’s a newcomer and a freshman who weren’t in the mix a year ago, who people are going to hear a lot about those names as we continue to come along.”
Chris Veron – #47: Veron, a redshirt freshman, has won the starting punter job for the spring game, ahead of last year’s starter Justin Brockhaus-Kann.
“Veron has been averaging about 45.5 yards per punt through 10 practices,” Holtz said. “You look at the way Brockhaus-Kann started the season and everything he was doing, he was averaging about 45 yards a punt through the first three or four games … and then all of a sudden things started going downhill and he struggled the second half of the season.”
Though the Spring Game won’t be the last scrimmage of the season, Holtz believes it will be very important in shaping the team.
“Guys are going to be competing for a job this scrimmage,” Holtz said. “There’s still a lot of competition going on. This is typically our No. 2 scrimmage, and with our No. 2 scrimmage, what you’re trying to get done is roll up the ball and compete and see where all these guys are so you can formulate a depth chart.”