Offensive MVP- Matt Grothe- Entering the season, Matt Grothe was just like any other player on the USF roster. As the backup quarterback, he was forced to wait on the sidelines until his name was called. In the opener against McNeese State, Grothe was expecting to split time under center with Senior quarterback Pat Julmiste. When Julmiste was forced to leave the game due to an injury, Grothe was given his shot earlier then expected. From there, the relatively unknown player transformed in front of everyone into a freshman phenom. Grothe would go on to have one of the most successful seasons in Bull's history. As a dual threat quarterback, Grothe would tear defenses up with his feet and pick them apart with his arm. For the season, he completed 202 passes out of 317 attempts with a 63.7 percentage for 2,576 yards including 15 touchdowns. He averaged just less than 200 yards passing a game in 13 games. Against Syracuse, Grothe broke Marquel Blackwell's freshman passing record for yards thrown in a season. On the ground, he ran the ball 178 times for 802 yards and nine touchdowns. The only question remaining for Bulls' fans is how will he top this performance next year.
Honorable mention-Ean Randolph- Randolph may have developed a reputation because of his playmaking abilities on special teams, but he truly was a force at wide receiver. He quickly became a main target of Matt Grothe, and also a fan favorite. In his only season with the Bulls, he led all receivers in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. By the end of the year, he had caught 49 passes for 506 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 10.3 yards per catch.
Honorable mention- Benjamin Williams- Prior to the season opener, the USF coaching staff had a variety of players to choose from to replace Andre Hall and it seemed like they tried to use just about anyone they could get their hands on. After multiple injuries and a suspension to Ricky Ponton, the former walk-on went from being fifth on the depth chart to starting tailback. Williams was the only running back for USF to play in every game this season, and at times he struggled behind an inconsistent offensive line. By the end though, he helped establish himself by being second leading rusher on the team, behind only Grothe, with 122 carries for 481 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensive MVP- Stephen Nicholas- The senior linebacker haunted opposing quarterbacks in every game of the season. His storybook college career had a perfect ending in the final game of the season against East Carolina. In the Papajohns.com bowl, Nicholas registered two sacks which gave him 20 for his career and broke Terrance Royals' USF record of 19.5. For the season, Nicholas was the team leader in sacks with 7.5 and tackles for loss with 15 tackles for a combined loss of 75 yards. Also, Nicholas was second on the team with 102 tackles and registered two interceptions. The picks were the first for USF linebackers since 2003.
Defensive MVP- Trae Williams- In every game,
opposing quarterbacks were forced to deal with junior Trae Williams who seemed
to constantly stay in the hip pocket of the wide receivers he was covering.
Williams led the team with seven interceptions, which tied JR Reed's record
set in 2003. For the season, Williams also added on the season 49 tackles, one
blocked kick, and was second on team with nine pass breakups. If not for such
early success, Williams would have had more opportunities for turnovers, but
opposing quarterbacks started throwing away from his as soon as they recognized
Honorable mention- Ben Moffitt- During his junior season at USF, Moffitt was constantly one of the most impressive players on the field. He was one of the hardest working players on the team and showed a great awareness for the ball. He led the Bulls' defense with 112 tackles including 75 solo and 37 assisted. Also, Moffitt was third on the team with 11 tackles for a combined loss of 28 yards while registering four sacks on the season.
Special Teams Awards
Special Teams MVP- Ean Randolph- Every time Ean Randolph fielded a kick, Bulls' fans rose to their feet and opposing fans cringed knowing that at any time a return could be taken to the house. Nobody learned this faster then Florida International. In that game, Randolph returned the first punt by FIU 51 yards for a touchdown, but the play was nullified due to a block below the waist. Then Randolph had a 76-yard return for a score to give the Bulls' their first points on the day. On the ensuing punt, Randolph broke free again, this time for a 62-yard touchdown, but yet again the return was called back due to a USF penalty. For the season, Randolph ended with only one score thanks to crucial penalties called on USF. Randolph did finish the year with 25 punt returns for 350 yards with an average of 14.8 yards per return while fielding only four kickoffs for 75 yards and an 18.8 average.
Honorable mention- Delbert Alvarado- After having problems for most of the season on special teams, the Bulls called on backup freshman Delbert Alverado to be the solution. Against Syracuse, he made fans truly believe after nailing a 56-yard field goal prior to halftime. This kick broke the Big East record of 54 yards and was the second longest field goal in USF history. Alvarado's prior long came from 47 yards, which coincidently came earlier in the second quarter of the game. For the season, Alvarado was successful on 5-9 attempts and gave Bulls' fans finally a reason to be excited about the kicking game.
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