The Bulls' already-thin receiving corps took a hit on Tuesday when Coach Taggart announced that sophomore D'Vario Montgomery was quitting the team and plans to transfer out of the program. While the news comes at an odd time with the Bulls just a couple weeks away from their opener against McNeese State, the decision seems to have been a long time coming-- Greg Auman reported that Montgomery had been mulling a transfer ever since Skip Holtz was fired.
While we obviously wish D'Vo the best, this puts the Bulls in a bit of a pickle on offense, and there's not too much time left to find answers before the season starts. Montgomery will be the third USF receiver to transfer out this offseason, joining Terrence Mitchell and Sterling Griffin and creating a bit of a crater at what seemed like a potential position of strength. Montgomery had just 6 receptions for 65 yards with the Bulls, but he was the prize of Holtz's last recruiting class, a consensus four-star recruit out of high school.
A couple weeks ago I picked receiver as the offense's strongest unit, figuring that there was enough talent behind Andre Davis and Sean Price to make up for the losses of Mitchell and Griffin. It's a bit harder to get excited about the group now. Here's what the Bulls have returning at receiver:
- Andre Davis, who accounts for 49% of the Bulls' returning yards at the position.
- Deonte Welch, who after catching 31 passes for 433 yards his freshman year put up about a quarter of that in 2012.
- Derrick Hopkins, who had a productive 2012 but is limited by his 5'5" frame.
- After that it's anyone's guess. Stephen Bravo-Brown, Ruben Gonzalez and Chris Dunkley are the only other receivers who have caught passes for the Bulls, but they combined for just four receptions last season. Someone-- perhaps one of the freshmen, Alex Mut or Zach Benjamin-- is going to have to step up.
This would be less concerning if there was more talent at the other positions. Which offensive unit could possibly be labelled the strongest at this point? The quarterback job is still up in the air, there are no proven entities at running back, and the offensive line was dreadful last season. It's certainly not impossible for the defense to carry a mediocre offense to a good season-- remember 2010?-- but as of now there are a ton of question marks across the board.
Taggart, for one, isn't concerned. On Tuesday night he countered with "[Montgomery] hasn't done much since he's been here"-- true-- and "We'll be OK. The bus is still rolling"-- hopefully. One way or another, we should have a better idea on August 31.