This year, instead of rolling out a USF football preview that would last for weeks, if not months on end, I decided to pack it all into one frantic
five six-day stretch. This way all the information we provide you with is as current as it can be. Plus I'm a procrastinator, and this suits my style better.
The secondary contains USF's biggest question mark going into the season, although there are several potential answers to that question.
Senior Kayvon Webster (5'11", 198 lbs., Opa Locka Miami Monsignor Pace) is unquestionably the #1 cornerback. A second-team all-Big East player last year, he started all 11 games he played, broke up seven passes, intercepted two, and famously returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown against Notre Dame. The question is, who lines up on the other side of the field? The Bulls brought in several candidates for the other starting job, but for now the first-stringer is another senior, George Baker (5'11", 180 lbs., Miami Archbishop Carroll). Baker has been consistently inconsistent throughout his USF career, and has only two starts despite playing 35 games the last three years.
Several newcomers will see action on the field in nickel and dime sets, or if one of the two starters falter or get injured. JUCO addition Fidel Montgomery (6'0", 187 lbs., Marianna/Southwest Mississippi CC) and redshirt freshman Kenneth Durden (6'0", 176 lbs., Valdosta, GA Lowndes) start the year as the second-stringers at cornerback and figure to see the most time in passing situations. You may also see Joshua Brown (6'0", 181 lbs., Lancaster, TX/Arizona Western CC) or Antonio Hughes (5'11", 175 lbs., Jacksonville/Fond Du Lac CC), a pair of JUCO transfers, or true freshman and somewhat reckless snake owner Chris Bivins Jr., (5'11", 176 lbs., Gainesville), one of the keystones of the 2012 recruiting class.
The safety position is much more settled, with four upperclassmen filling the two-deep. Both starters are new, though -- JaQuez Jenkins (6'2", 188 lbs., St. Petersburg Lakewood) takes over at strong safety, while Mark Joyce (5'10", 200 lbs., DeLand) replaces the departed Jerrell Young at free safety. Last year's starting strong safety, Jon Lejiste (6'0", 205 lbs., Delray Beach Atlantic Community) has moved over to free safety and is backing up Joyce, while former walk-on Ernie Tabuteau (5'10", 194 lbs., Miami North Miami) is behind Jenkins.
No one needs to tell USF fans about the importance of the punter. For the second straight year, Justin Brockhaus-Kann's performance went steadily downhill as the season moved along, to the point where a desperate Skip Holtz used his placekicker as a punter on two occasions to find some improvement. This year, he's been replaced atop the depth chart by redshirt freshman Mattias Ciabatti (6'0", 185 lbs., Tampa Hillsborough), who has yet to kick in a college game. Brockhaus-Kann (6'2", 214 lbs., Winter Springs) remains on the depth chart as the holder.
And no one needs to introduce kicker Maikon Bonani (5'10", 176 lbs., Lake Wales) to USF fans. The ups and downs of Bonani's career are well-documented, from the game-winning field goal against Kansas in his first college game, to the Busch Gardens accident that led to a redshirt year, to him regaining the starting job and delivering two more solid seasons, to his uncharacteristic miss of a 27-yarder against Rutgers that would have won the game. He's just three points away from becoming USF's all-time leading scorer, and should do so with ease.
Marvin Kloss (6'0", 198 lbs., Naples Barron Collier) will return to handle kickoffs this year and should see an increase in touchbacks with kickoffs moved up to the 35-yard line. Redshirt freshman David Burdetsky (6'1", 213 lbs., Jacksonville Trinity Christian) won the long snapping job and will be a pivotal but unsung player.