The University of South Florida experienced a youth revolution at the wide receiver position Saturday.
Quarterback B.J. Daniels threw for a school-record 409 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulls' 37-34 loss to Cincinnati, mostly to a young group of receivers.
"We came into this game with Sterling (Griffin) as a sophomore, Deonte Welch as a redshirt freshman, Andre Davis as a true freshman, Ruben Gonzalez as a true freshman," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "We've got three receivers out there playing as freshmen. … Those young guys really competed."
Leading the pack of young wideouts was Welch, who caught five passes for 130 yards. He entered the day with six catches for 83 yards on the season, numbers he eclipsed in the first half alone against the Bearcats' secondary.
"It was an opportunity for me to step up and make good plays," Welch said.
Welch's yardage came in large chunks, mostly due to long runs after making the catch, with receptions of 22, 34, 37 and 30 yards.
"Deonte has shown flashes of being a really good player and now his role just kind of jumped out a little bit more," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said, including Davis in his praise. "I thought both of them played really solid games overall."
Welch and Davis played a critical role on USF's final scoring drive, which gave the Bulls a 34-30 lead with 1:27 remaining. Welch's 30-yard reception moved the ball across midfield before Davis made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone for his second career receiving touchdown, a 10-yard grab. The Jefferson High product finished with four catches for 60 yards.
"It was an awesome experience," Davis said. "(Wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan) told me this week that I had a great week of practice and he was going to throw me out there in the fire. He told me my work ethic was going to get me there and to keep working."
Griffin, a redshirt sophomore, caught eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the third quarter with an ankle injury. His absence allowed Gonzalez, who did not have a catch, to see action for the sixth time this season.
Daniels completed passes to 10 different receivers. He completed five straight passes for 71 yards on USF's final go-ahead drive, including three passes of 19 yards or more.