With Mike White's transfer and USF's new offensive scheme, all signs point to Quinton Flowers securing the starting quarterback job for the 2015 season. But in a Q&A with Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times the other day, Willie Taggart wasn't quite ready to hand over the job just yet.
You mentioned after the spring game that you'd prefer to have a starting quarterback going into preseason camp. Do you have one?
"No. I will say that with Mike (White) leaving that changed some things. But I think both Quinton (Flowers) and Steven (Bench), just from the spring, I thought both of those guys made tremendous improvement. With Quinton from the short time that he's been here (since) last August, and Steven...I thought it was by far his best spring. I think the things we're doing offensively now really cater to those guys and really help them, and I think that was a big reason why those guys had a better spring."
So technically, it's still up in the air. Here's the thing, though: USF football is in a huge state of flux right now, with Taggart's long-term future uncertain. Coach T wants (and needs) to win now; that much is clear from his switch to the spread offense this season. But with nothing guaranteed to stay constant beyond the 2015 season (the coaching staff, the players, and most importantly, the scheme could all change in the near future), it makes sense to think long-term as well. That makes a talented transfer quarterback, even one who's not immediately eligible, a very appealing prospect. A couple of familiar names are on the market right now:
John Franklin III, Redshirt Sophomore, Florida State
Franklin is a devastatingly fast (4.4 speed, ran in the Seminoles' ACC champion 4x100 team) QB who USF recruited when he was a mid three-star prospect out of South Plantation High. He saw some time at wide receiver for the Noles, but his main contributions came on the scout team when he played a key role in imitating dual-threat QBs like Auburn's Nick Marshall. He entered the spring with a perfectly legitimate shot at earning the starting job-- and Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation mentioned that he was very much in the running-- but couldn't seem to beat out last year's backup Sean Maguire, and saw the writing on the wall when Everett Golson transferred in.
Orlando Sentinel reporter Brendan Sonnone confirmed that USF was showing interest in Franklin, and he seems to be a pretty ideal fit for the offense that Taggart wants to run. For what it's worth, Franklin hasn't mentioned any schools and said he's open to transferring anywhere, but has been in contact with UCF coaches.
Here's Franklin in FSU's 2014 spring game-- he takes over around the 7:28 mark. He's got a strong arm, though a little inaccurate, and can really, really run (Franklin missed the 2015 spring game with an injury).
Asiantii Woulard, Redshirt Sophomore, UCLA
If you've been around the program for more than a few seasons, you remember this name. Woulard was an athletic four-star recruit out of high school and was projected to be the Bulls' quarterback of the future when he committed to Skip Holtz. He then de-committed... then committed again... then de-committed once again when Holtz was fired. This left a bad taste in a lot of Bulls' fans mouths, but I'd like to politely remind those Bulls fans that we all probably changed our minds upwards of five times about where we were going to attend college, and we weren't getting recruited by a bunch of multi-millionaires that were getting hired and fired at will.
At any rate, there's been nothing linking Woulard and USF this time around (yet), and his time at UCLA appeared fairly unremarkable as he was never really able to challenge for the starting job. But he's a very, very talented athlete, and if the Woulard-to-USF rumor mill starts flowing once again, I encourage fans to welcome him with open arms.
Here's Woulard leading a long drive in UCLA's 2015 spring game. There's not too much to pick apart here, but he throws a pair of nice deep balls and forces perhaps one too many passes.