USF Defensive Personnel
Note: The following preview was provided courtesy USFNation.com staff writer, Raj Shiwmangal
DE: Ryne Giddins – is easily the most recruited player ever to land at USF. He was a Parade All-American in High School amongst many other accolades. After serving as a backup last year, Giddins garnered 19 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Giddins is strong and fast and has worked all off-season on becoming a complete defensive end as opposed to just a pass rusher. This year, the 6'3 260 lbs redshirt sophomore enters as the starter and poised for a breakout season.
NT: Cory Grissom – is the lone returning starter on a defensive line that featured eight players in the rotation. The junior nose tackle stands at 6'2 322 lbs and has had an excellent fall camp. Grissom's role on defense does not lend itself to many stats, as he's much more of a space eater. He recorded 16 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack. Grissom is a big guy but moves very well and has great feet. Going into his junior season as one of the leaders on the defensive line, Grissom has shown in camp that he's ready to increase those numbers dramatically.
DT: Keith McCaskill – the 6'1 senior defensive tackle served primarily as the backup for future NFL defensive tackle Terrell McClain. Although McCaskill has been a backup most of his career, he has substantial game experience, playing in 37 games throughout his USF career. He was responsible for a huge safety last year against Rutgers, which was the turning point in the game and allowed USF to continue its midseason resurgence. McCaskill has one of the highest motors of any of USF's defensive linemen and that says a lot about a unit predicated on speed. Last year, he recorded 14 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 1 sack. Along with Grissom, McCaskill also has had an excellent fall camp and seems much more focused than ever.
DE: Patrick Hampton – is the only other senior featured in USF's entire defensive line rotation. Standing at 6'2 246 lbs, Hampton is also one of the teams' strongest players, boasting a 415 lb. bench press and a 565 lb. squat. Hampton earned playing time sparingly throughout his career until last year when injuries forced one of USF's starting DE's out. Hampton earned the start and impressed the coaches. As a backup, Hampton recorded 19 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. As a full time player heading into this season, Hampton is ready to greatly increase his numbers from the year before.
SAM: Reshard Cliett – the 6'2 217 lb. redshirt freshman is the lone newcomer to the Bulls starting linebacker corps. Cliett came to USF as a safety but with his frame and growth potential, the staff found his skills suited better for linebacker. Cliett blazed a sub-4.5 40 yard dash in the spring and has continued to impress the staff throughout fall camp earning the starting nod over players with more experience than him. How Cliett will perform this season is a big unknown but the fact that he's starting says a lot about how much confidence the coaching staff have in him.
MIKE: Sam Barrington – the 6'1 235 lb junior linebacker is one of two returning starters on the Bulls linebacker corps. He is one of the team leaders and an excellent player to boot. Just like the defensive line, the Bulls linebacker corps rotated heavily, regularly featuring six guys, which led to the stats being spread out amongst the players. With that said, Barrington still recorded 65 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 3 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Barrington's tackles were good enough for third on the team. Barrington is an excellent player and one of the main anchors for a unit that ranked 17th in the country for Total Defense. Fans and the coaching staff alike foresee big things for Barrington this upcoming season.
WILL: Devekeyan (DeDe) Lattimore – the 6'1 237 lb. redshirt sophomore linebacker is the other returning starting linebacker. Lattimore finished second on the team in tackles recording 69 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Those numbers were good enough to earn Lattimore Freshman All American honors from Phil Steele. Lattimore is big, fast and hits like a truck. Despite a very good season last year, one of Lattimore's knocks were his overall knowledge of the game, he rectified that this off-season by spending numerous extra hours in the film room and is much more mentally prepared for this upcoming season.
CB: Kayvon Webster – the 5'11 196 lb. junior cornerback steps in as the starter taking over for Minnesota Vikings draft pick Mistral Raymond. Webster does not enter the position green; he has appeared in 25 games throughout his career and after making significant gains this off-season appears ready to handle the rigors of the position. Webster played in a reserve role last season and recorded 29 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Webster is a talented player but has yet to put it all together. This off-season he worked extremely hard, adding 10 lbs of muscle and seems ready to be a leader on the defense.
CB: Quenton Washington – the 5'10 196 lb. senior cornerback is one of two seniors in the starting secondary. Washington is entering his third year as starter. During the second half of the season, the proverbial light bulb turned on for Washington. His overall play saw a significant boost. After nearly returning an interception for a touchdown in the bowl game, Washington took that momentum and rode it into spring and fall camp. The coaches have been very impressed with his progress and he hopes to have a big senior season. Washington recorded 59 tackles 4 pass break ups, 1 tackle for loss and 2 blocked punts.
FS: Jerrell Young – the 6'1 209 lb. senior safety is another player in the Bulls secondary that returns with significant experience. Young started all 13 games last year for the Bulls and has appeared in 36 career games. Last year, Young led the team in interceptions with 3. He recorded 41 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 3 pass breakups to go with the interceptions. Young has significant experience and is one of the many leaders on the Bulls defense.
SS: Jon Lejiste – the 6'0 199 lb. junior safety serves as the enforcer in the Bulls secondary. The coaching staff is known for bringing Lejiste on blitzes and he has a knack for causing a disruption in the backfield and delivering big hits. Last year, Lejiste recorded 43 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 2 passes broken up. Lejiste is bigger and faster than he was a year ago and that should be troubling news for opposing quarterbacks.