With the NFL lockout finally over and a new collective bargaining agreement in place, NFL teams were finally allowed to sign undrafted free agents. In only a short time, USF has been increasing its NFL presence. Over the past two years, the Bulls have sent more draft picks to the NFL than any other Big East team. Five undrafted free agents will be joining draftees Terrell McClain (Panthers), Mistral Raymond (Vikings) and Jaquian Williams (Giants) heading into NFL Camp.
Today was a big day for many of the Bulls' undrafted free agents. The first two reported signings were former WR Dontavia Bogan going to the San Francisco 49ers and C/OL Sampson Genus joining the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. Later in the day, more good news for the Bulls rolled through the docket as TE/H-Back Kevin Gidrey, DE Craig Marshall and DE David Bedford all signed with different NFL teams. With five undrafted free agents signing contracts, the Bulls will be sending eight guys to NFL camps this upcoming season.
As reported earlier today, wide receiver Dontavia Bogan signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers where he will get a chance to be reunited with former USF head coach Jim Leavitt. Bogan performed solidly at USF pro day and during private workouts, which was a big factor in getting signed. After joining the Bulls in 2007, Bogan earned playing time midway through the Bulls season as a true freshman when starting WR Taurus Johnson went down with an injury during the Rutgers game. Bogan performed admirably in a tough loss and that game turned out to be the catalyst for Bogan being a mainstay in the USF wide receiver rotation.
During his first three seasons, Bogan mainly played in the slot but after injuries to WR's A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin, Bogan was thrust into the starting X-position. Despite the extreme lack of depth and experience on the USF wide receiver corps; Bogan responded with career highs across the board. He finished his senior season with 12 out of 13 possible starts, 46 receptions, 673 yards and 6 touchdowns. He ended his career with 49 appearances, 23 starts, 107 receptions, 1534 yards and 12 touchdowns.
It was also reported that USF center Sampson Genus signed a free agent deal with the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The Packers have a few capable centers on their roster and Genus will have his work cut out for him in order to make the roster but if there is anybody that can make it through a situation like this, it's Sampson Genus. Along with being one of the strongest players on the team, Genus was a tremendous team leader and was an anchor for the USF offensive line in three of his four years. He did play on the defensive line for one season to help out with depth but made his way back to the offensive line during his last two seasons where he finished as a two-time All Big East Conference performer. He earned first team honors as a senior as well as serving as team captain.
After the NFL draft, Craig Marshall worked his way onto a UFL roster but with the UFL season on hold, Marshall was told he would be free to sign with another team if the opportunity presented itself and it certainly did. Marshall will be joining former Bulls Jason Pierre-Paul and Jaquian Williams as a part of the New York Giants. That would give the Bulls three players on their roster and a considerable USF presence. Marshall signed with USF out of high school in 2006 but did not qualify academically and attended Pearl River Community College in Mississippi.
Marshall rejoined the Bulls as part of the 2008 class and after very limited playing time in 2008, Marshall began to see an increased role in USF's defense during his last two seasons. His breakout game came in 2009 against FSU even though he was the backup for two future NFL defensive linemen in Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie. Marshall carried that momentum into his senior year where he was named a starter. Even though he missed four games due to a broken foot, Marshall still tied for the team lead in sacks and was a solid presence for the USF front four throughout the season. Marshall ended his career with USF by playing in 32 games starting 14. He finished with 73 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble and 3 fumble recoveries.
TE/H-Back Kevin Gidrey, a Virginia native grew up favoring the team he ended up signing with, the Washington Redskins. Gidrey began his collegiate career at East Carolina under current Bulls Head Coach Skip Holtz. After Holtz left ECU to join USF, Gidrey who had already graduated and still had a year of eligibility decided to join his coach and attend USF while enrolled in a Masters Program. Gidrey's role in USF's offense did not lend itself to many stats, however he helped pave the way for one of USF's better running attacks since the Andre Hall era. Gidrey finished his senior season at USF by starting 11 of 13 games and hauling in 8 receptions for 95 yards. Although those numbers seem pedestrian, Gidrey's role went far beyond stats as a guy that understood the system and helped acclimate other players as well as providing solid blocking in the running and passing game.
Later in the day DE David Bedford signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Bedford took a similar to route to the college ranks as his teammate Craig Marshall and attended Independence Community College in Kansas. Bedford came out rated a 4 star recruit and was part of the 2008 USF recruiting class. Bedford also had to bide his time behind two future NFL defensive linemen and did not get a chance to showcase his talents early in his career, then earned a starting spot at defensive end for his senior season and really made strides.
Bedford started all 13 games as a senior. He tallied 38 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception. Without sugar coating anything, Bedford's numbers were solid although not spectacular, but this was most likely due to the fact that USF rotated heavily along the defensive line, often using an eight-man rotation during games. Still, Bedford was a solid player and helped anchor a defensive unit that ranked 17th in the nation.
Overall this was a solid year for the Bulls going into the NFL. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, first year Bulls Head Coach Skip Holtz performed admirably winning eight games and continuing USF's bowl game five game bowl streak. The five undrafted free agent signees join the three Bulls (Terrell McClain, Jaquain Williams and Mistral Raymond) who were drafted in April to make this a fairly big year for the young program. While nothing is guaranteed, these five players have their foot in the door and it will be interesting to follow their progression as they report to NFL camp.