Tampa, August 4, 2018- With all three of USF’s leading performers in RB D’Ernest Johnson, RB Darius Tice, and QB Quinton Flowers lost to graduation, who will rise up to the challenge and fill those Shaq-sized shoes to continue production in the backfield? Here are a few contenders worthy of filling the gaping hole in the offenses’ stomach and keep the chains moving forward for the Bulls this 2018 season.
First, let’s dive back into 2017 and look at these workhorses’ contributions on paper. At 6’ 210 pounds, Quarterback Quinton Flowers’ accumulated a surplus of accolades in his CFB career including these honors and records; 2017 Second Team All-Conference, 2017 ESPN All-Bowl Team, 2017 Florida Offensive Player of the Year (Miami Herald), 2016 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Performer Of The Year, 2016 American Conference Offensive Player Of The Year, 2016 First Team All-Conference, 2016 Florida Offensive Player of the Year (Miami Herald), 2016 Walter Camp Player Of The Year Award Semifinalist, 4X Manning Award Stars Of The Week Selection, First-ever 2,000-yard passer/1,000-yard rusher in Florida FBS history in 2016, First-ever 1,000-yard rusher in Florida FBS history (2016), owns the top three rushing seasons by an FBS QB in the state of Florida, 2015 & 2016 USF Team MVP- the list goes ON and ON for this collegiate star and is currently on watch list for other prestigious awards such as the Johnny Unitas and Maxwell award.
His stat-line, of course, is momentous, in 2017 the Miami native recorded 2,911 passing yards on 188 completions of 354, posting 25 scores, a long-ball of 95 and 6 interceptions overall. Rushing the ball, on 196 attempts Flowers ran for 1,078 yards, racking up 11 TD’s of his own with a long-haul rush of 44!
In the backfield, next in the spot-light is 5’10” 210-pound running back Darius Tice, another Miami native who also had a break-out year, totaling 943 rushing on 178 carries, tallying 11 touchdowns with a long run of 54, putting up a couple receptions and few punt-returns, also being 1 of 10 USF football players to graduate in the spring. Standing at 5’10” 208 pounds D’Ernest Johnson was the leading rusher and a hard-nosed runner who gained some honorable attention with 2016 second team all-conference (return specialist), Paul Hornung award candidate, 2015 Team co-offensive MVP, USF game record for all-purpose yards (281), USF career all-purpose yards’ leader with 4,186, USF career receiving yards’ leader for a running back at 909, and USF career receptions leader for a running back with 73!
In his senior campaign he ran and caught out of the backfield for the Bulls with a lump sum of 796 rushing yards on 193 touches with 7 TD’s, a 50-long run, totaled 153 on 11 receptions and 2 scores with a long catch of 34 in that category while also amassing 292 punt and kick return yards on 21 attempts. Two sure-runners that combined for deadly duo totals in 2017 that are implanted in USF and CFB history forever.
UF transfer and upcoming senior listed at 5’11” 207 pounds, the 2015 4-star recruit Jordan Cronkrite in all probability will earn the starting spot, being the new imposing force with a huge role to fill, and the next worthy candidate to be second on the depth chart will most likely be 5’10” 170-pound back Duran Bell- the Bulls lost him to a knee injury sidelining him all of last season but he’s returning this year and although he may be “undersized” he brings something to the table the Bull’s lacked- speed.
Out in front, battling to make their names known in place of Quinton, are Chris Oladokun and grad transfer, former Alabama and Arizona State starter, Junior Blake Barnett who will duke it out for the starting QB spot as Junior Brett Kean is suspended for the first 4 games.
All said and done, USF will be anything but bashful this year, after having posted a 10-2 overall record behind UCF’s undefeated 13-0 season, I believe they can be potentially the new beasts of the east, stampeding their way to the top, not settling for anything less- don’t mess with the Bull or you’ll get the Horns!