One word is what Head Coach Willie Taggart is looking from the South Florida receiving core in 2015. Speed. With the Bulls offense going up tempo and fast paced for the brand new season, speed and hustle have been heavily emphasized from the coaching staff in both spring and fall practices. That emphasis has especially been placed on the WR/TE unit, who collectively bring tons of depth in all avenues this season.
It will be a tall order for the USF offense to replace the production of all-time leading Bulls receiver Andre Davis. The Tampa native set 13 individual receiving records while at South Florida including receptions (153), yards (2,136) and touchdowns (17). Where teams dread the loss of an all-time great, the talent and depth USF supplied could very well make up for it.
Returning to the lineup for the Bulls as the main slot receiver is junior Rodney Adams. The 6-1, 190 pound receiver will step up as the top option for either Steven Bench or Quinton Flowers as he possesses the most experience at receiver. Adams racked up 323 yards on 23 receptions and 2 touchdowns in 2014 and will look to step up his production when USF begins their season. Also returning to the fray is sophomore Ryeshene Bronson. Bronson only caught 10 receptions in 2014, one of them being a 75 yard touchdown catch vs. NC State in September. If the Fort Myers native and 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American game selection can replicate his production from spring practice, he will serve as a solid X option within the offense. Returning at TE is Mackey Award Watch Lister Sean Price. His 56 receptions and 601 career yards leads all returning starters for South Florida while his 250 pound frame will provide tremendous downfield blocking within the spread.
Another heavy aspect to watch is the emergence of brand new faces within the receiving core. After sitting out a year, Kentucky transfer A.J. Legree looks to provide another inside presence in the Z slot. Freshman Stanley Clerveaux, who made a handful of standout plays during spring practice, looks to make an impactful debut as a second option behind Bronson on the depth chart. Even the small but elusive Chase Whitehead, who also made a name for himself during the spring, could see some meaningful snaps. And that doesn’t even include the possibility of true freshmen such as Chris Barr coming in and immediately start making plays.
Depth aside, Ron Dugan’s unit must gain more yards after catch in 2015 to effectively utilize the spread. For an offense that struggled mightily to move the chains, it is on the receivers to shed tackles and keep drives alive once the season kicks off on September 5th against Florida A&M.