Spring practice begins today so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.
Position Coach: Tyler Hudanick (first year as OL Coach.)
Key Losses: Almost every starter. LT Demontrey Jacobs, LG Demetris Harris, C Brad Cecil, RG Dustyn Hall (transfer portal.)
Key Returners: LT Donovan Jennings (Gr.), LT Derrell Bailey, Jr. (Jr.), LG Zach Perkins (So.), RG Mike Lofton (So.), Andrew Kilfoyl (So.)
Key Additions: OT RJ Perry (Tennessee transfer), OT Derek Bowman (Houston transfer.)
In 2022, USF returned virtually every starter on the offensive line hoping that the continuity and extra covid year would pay dividends for the offense—and for the most part it worked! The offensive line improved from giving up 25 sacks in 2021 to only 14 sacks in 2022 —which was tied for 19th best in the country. They also were a unit that blocked for the 27th best rushing attack in the nation with a 5.39 avg and 197.9 ypg. This was all through three different starting quarterbacks and veteran OT Donovan Jennings sustaining a season-ending leg injury in the fourth game of the year.
That being said, with Demontrey Jacobs, Demetris Harris, and Brad Cecil all graduating and Dustyn Hall hitting the transfer portal, first-time offensive line coach Tyler Hudanick has his work cut out for him constructing a new unit to protect the QB. Fortunately, the former UCF offensive lineman returns Jennings who returns with a sixth year of eligibility and 41 games in a Bulls uniform under his belt and Mike Lofton who played in all 12 games this season. Junior Derrell Bailey, Jr. (10 games), sophomore Andrew Kilfoyl (nine games), and sophomore Zach Perkins (seven games) also saw extensive game action in the 2022 season.
Head coach Alex Golesh didn’t waste anytime looking to replace the departed starters by reaching out to a familiar face inTennessee transfer RJ Perry. Perry was originally recruited as a defensive lineman for the Volunteers, converted to the offensive side and played in 13 games in 2022 and 20 games overall in his career. Golesh also received a commitment from Houston OL transfer Derek Bowman who played in 13 games in 2022. Both tackles will look to compete for starting positions along the offensive line in the spring.
Incoming freshmen Cole Skinner, Deonte Bowie, and Nikola Milovac will look to get a head start as early enrollees competing in spring practice and learning the new system. Sophomores Gannon Lanning and Gabrile Hahn will also compete for playing time.
Golesh mentioned that every position will have a competition and that will be especially evident on the offensive line. Cole Best (So.) is the likely replacement for Cecil at center with Jennings and Bailey Jr. battling it out with Perry and Bowman at the bookends and Perkins and Lofton on the inside. Kilfoyl, Drew Cornelius, and Joshua Blanchard 9returning from injury) will also to look to compete for a spot on the 2-deep.