Skip Holtz released his post-spring practice depth chart on Friday. There weren't too many changes from the one that came out a couple of weeks ago, but the one spot that had me scratching my head was at flanker. Instead of Sterling Griffin being listed as the #1 at that position, converted defensive back Terrence Mitchell was the new starter.
Greg Auman says this is a "send a message move" and he's right. I mean, this isn't even a subtle message being sent. This is a message in 72-point bright red block letters, sealed in an envelope and delivered right to Sterling Griffin's front door by express courier with a signature required. Instead of putting, say, Deonte Welch at the flanker, or Joel Miller or someone else with experience, the coaches put T-Rex there. Mitchell has never caught a pass in a college game and has a total of two offensive touches to his name. Not to mention that Mitchell is listed at a puny 157 pounds, and might literally break in half on a hard hit over the middle. It's hard to imagine how someone that small would survive as an outside receiver.
I'm figuring that Lindsey Lamar and Mitchell will eventually split time as the slot receiver. The two of them are so similar -- they're about the same size, they've both been converted to receiver, they're both speedy, sure-handed, and hard to get a clean hit on (unless you're Clemson and you body-slam them), they even both run back kicks. Making them interchangeable gives them a better shot of staying healthy and keeps them fresh to continue being difference-makers on special teams. Especially Lamar, who is the first player in USF history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Back to Griffin -- not only is he behind T-Rex, but then they don't even list him as the clear #2 flanker. He's in a tie with wee Derrick Hopkins, who also has very little experience and is the smallest player on the team (5'5" and 155 pounds). I know Griffin dropped a few passes in spring, but wow. That might even be a case where the message is so unsubtle that it becomes an outright diss.*
A few other moves after the jump.
(* - Does anyone still say "diss"? I'm kind of old and not totally up on my lingo.)
-- Very mildly surprised that Bobby Eveld is still the #2 quarterback after he had such a rough time in the scrimmages. But then again, he does have experience and Matt Floyd doesn't.
-- Demetris Murray still hanging on to the top spot at running back.
-- As Auman points out, the way the linebackers are eventually slotted will be interesting. The first depth chart had Sam Barrington as the "sam" linebacker; now he's starting at MLB, which may be possible because Reshard Clett has moved up to be the starter at "sam." Curtis Weatherspoon was backing up Devekeyan Lattimore at the "will" outside linebacker, but now he's the backup at "sam." Michael Lanaris and Mike Jeune are still in there too. Either this is a good, interchangeable group at the linebacker position, or it's chaos.
-- Spencer Boyd finally cracks the two-deep, sort of. He's listed as an "or" with walk-on Ernie Tabuteau at cornerback. While we're here, I put this in a story for SB Tampa Bay, but here again is the story of how Tabuteau was discovered:
Former strength coach Ronnie McKeefery discovered him, as Tabuteau was dating a USF track athlete and hung out around the weight room. McKeefery worked him out, checked his 40 time, vertical leap, etc. "I talked to the kid, got his highlight tape off YouTube, watched it," (defensive backs coach Rick) Smith said. "I tried to get him in the program that day. Coach (Holtz) wouldn't let me do that. He went through all the process. He's really going to be good."
-- Anthony Hill, now a 293-pound backup defensive end.
-- Finally, take a look at the offensive skill positions. Except for the slot receiver, which is missing Lindsey Lamar anyway, and A.J. Love, who I still think has a semi-reserved place as a starting receiver when he's healthy, there are no seniors at QB, running back, or wide receiver. Barring some explosion of a season that prompts one of them to leave early, nearly all of this year's offensive contributors are going to be back in 2012. It's hard not to get excited about that potential.