Josh Newberg:What was the reason for red shirting five seniors last year?
Coach Jim Leavitt: Yes, we red shirted Tim Jones who was our starting defensive end the year before. He had two reasons, one was to finish his masters and the other was to go into the Big East. Education is real big for him and I love that. I tell our players all the time if we don't red shirt you your first year, I will do it at any time you want. He happen to pick last year and it did hurt us when you take away a starting defensive end.
Then we red shirted Jason Allen who is also a defensive end and a good special teams guy. He basically just needed another year. We also red shirted Johnny Jones, he was hurt. What happen was he was shot in the neck. Doctor told me he was a quarter inch from dying. He got through that and could have played but he just wasn't feeling right and I didn't want to push it anymore. Those three guys could all be impact players next year, and they will make a difference. Those are the main ones to speak of.
JN: Talk about your defensive expectations.
JL: To be successful you must play good defense. Over the last nine years we have played pretty good defense. A few years ago when we played Oklahoma we held Quinten Griffin to 11 yards and the next week he had about 180 against Texas. We think our defense has a chance to be really good. We got Tim Jones and Terrance Royal coming back as senior defensive ends. Jason Allen is also at defensive end along with Josh Julmiste and both of them will factor in, and we still got Travarous Robinson who started last year. We have a lot of depth at the position.
At nose guard we feel real good. We have Allen Cray out of Lake City Columbia, who is a third year guy. Also Richard Clebert out of Miami Edison who was a real top recruit. We think he will be real solid.
At defensive tackle, we moved Eric Thomas from end to tackle. Tim Jones will also rotate in. We feel we have some real athletes on our front four.
At Linebacker we got Stephan Nicholas back and he has already proven how good he is. Then we have Ben Moffitt, who started at sam but was moved to the middle. Then we got the rest of our linebackers back and they are all going to get better.
Then we got Johnny Jones who moved from strong safety to free safety. But we have also moved Louis Gachette a real good athlete, who was a quarterback, to saftey. He's going to do real there and we feel confident about Tyler Roberts. We still got a kid from Valdosta Carlton Williams who is a guy that might be big enough to go to linebacker but he'll be playing strong safety.
At corner we got D'Juan Brown, Mike Jenkins, Trae Williams and both Cox twins. We feel we have depth at corner.
JN: Talk some about your quarterback situation.
JL: Pat Julmiste is going to come back as our starter because someone has to beat him out. People were disappointed in Pat because it's the most important position on the team and he just wasn't consistent enough. The competition that will really push him will be Courtney Denson who we wanted bad two years ago but lost him to Auburn but was unhappy and transferred to USF two years ago. He sat out last year and will be ready to push Pat this year. But a lot of people will focus on Carlton Hill he can run as well as he throws. He's pretty polished and will be involved somewhere.
JN: How important will Andre Hall be this year?
JL: He is the key for us, he came back after having a chance to go to the NFL. He is probably the best back we have had here at USF because he is the most complete. He works hard and runs well. He is the strength of the team.
JN: The wide receiver position is pretty strong also, talk a little about them.
JL: The wide receivers are so young but we have some good ones. You got S.J. Green who is just a big receiver at 6-3, 220. Jackie Chambers comes back from Miami Edison. Also Johnny Peyton who is 6-5 and can run and go get the ball. He has so much ability he doesn't even know what he can do yet. We are real excited about Amare Jackson coming in. He's a JUCO kid that was heavily recruited but went and played college basketball. There are a bunch of receivers that are all in the hunt.
JN: What is your overall assessment of the offensive line?
JL: We are real excited about the center John Miller. Our right and left gaurds will also be real solid. We Have Jerome Springfield at left tackle and at right tackle we have Walt Walker. Those guys are both capable and have both played. We also have quite a bit of depth all over the offensive line.
Q&A with Jim Leavitt (part II)
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