TAMPA — All the attention is on Mike White, scheduled to become the University of South Florida’s first true freshman to start at quarterback when the Bulls face the Houston Cougars Thursday night at Reliant Stadium.
White is simply the latest component of a season-long youth movement for the Bulls. Of the true freshmen, the guys who played high-school football in 2012, the four others to start are OG Dominique Threatt, RB Darius Tice, LB Nigel Harris and S Nate Godwin. Other USF true freshmen who have played include WR Zach Benjamin, DT Derrick Calloway, DB Hassan Childs, DT Bruce Hector, DE Mike Love, DB Lamar Robbins, FB Auggie Sanchez, DT Deadrin Senat and DB Johnny Ward.
Harris, with five straight starts, had 12 tackles against Florida Atlantic. Godwin, who returned a blocked field goal 75 yards for a touchdown against Cincinnati, and Threatt have started the last four games.
Of Threatt, USF offensive coordinator Walt Wells said, “When we do get some good runs going, he’s one of the leading factors. He can take that three-technique (defensive tackle) and actually move him. He brings a nastiness to us that we need.’’
Wells acknowledged that the true freshmen playing experience is a good investment in USF’s future, but added, “We’re not thinking about the future. Our future is Thursday. But the young guys who are getting all these reps, when next year comes around, it should be old hat for them.’’
“All these young guys are doing well for us,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart said. “A lot of them are making plays. It’s good to see. I think they have gained the respect of their teammates.’’
One of them is redshirt freshman defensive lineman Daniel Perry.
“I’m not that far removed from them,’’ Perry said. “But when I look at the future of South Florida football, it’s pretty bright. I’m pretty impressed. It’s a very strong recruiting class. I’ve already seen them do great things. Four years from now, I can only imagine what they’ll be doing.’’
Stan Heath’s Bulls face Barry University in a Monday exhibition at the Sun Dome. Don’t expect to see junior point guard Anthony Collins, who is “70 to 75 percent’’ with a left knee that has been slow to recover from surgery.
The swelling, Heath said, was “going to be a one-week, 10-day deal and it has turned into a month. I am a little bit (concerned). I don’t know why it’s taking this long. I do think he’s going to be fine.’’
If the season started today and Collins were out, Heath said he would start junior-college transfer Corey Allen at point guard, Martino Brock at the other guard, Victor Rudd at small forward, Zach LeDay at power forward and either John Egbunu or Chris Perry, both freshmen, at center. Another option is playing Rudd at power forward, opening a starting spot for JaVontae Hawkins or Musa Abdul-Aleem.
McNeese State (7-1), which blasted USF 53-21 in the football opener, is ranked No. 4 nationally among Football Championship Subdivision schools and has surpassed 50 points in four games this season. …Women’s soccer (9-4-5) is the No. 5 seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament. The Bulls play at No. 4 Connecticut in Sunday’s quarterfinals. …Sophomore Erin Fairs won AAC volleyball player of the week for the third straight time. The Bulls (13-10, 7-2), winners of five straight matches, are in sole possession of second place in the AAC. …Men’s golf won the Ocean Course Invitational by four shots over South Alabama. USF’s Richard James (6-under-par 210) was the individual runner-up.