By Brad Meyer | Published 07/17/2020 | USF Football
Tampa, FL – Think back to the last time USF entered the season with a solid quarterback and no need for competition in the Spring or Fall sessions. Yep, Quinton Flowers – 2017. It has been that long.
Sure, some thought Blake Barnett would carry the mail, but it turned out he could not. Nor did he escape a season without some considering whether his backups could do better.
Last season, the Bulls lost a couple of roster staples in Brett Kean (Charlotte) and Chris Oladokun (Samford), leaving the backup work to freshman Jordan McCloud and then sophomore Kirk Rygol (transferred earlier this year to Montana).
2020 opens (hopefully) with McCloud returning in role with competition from two transfers. Cade Fortin joined the Bulls last season from North Carolina. Fortin sat out after the transfer. Joining the Bulls in April was graduate transfer Noah Johnson from Alcorn State. Johnson is immediately eligible. Fortin and McCloud are sophomores, so perhaps we will see annual duels for many seasons, but Johnson will have one go at it.
Johnson (6-0, 195), a product of Armwood High School, missed much of his senior year at Alcorn State due to injury. He was magnificent in his junior season, leading the Braves to the SWAC Championship Game while earning SWAC Championship Offensive MVP and SWAC Offensive Player of the Year. Johnson finished 2018 with 2,207 yards, 15 TDs while rushing for 1,080 yards and another 11 TDs.
Johnson’s quarterback coach at Alcorn State was current USF Running Backs coach, Pat White (former WVU quarterback).
His stats in high school were also impressive. He accounted for more than 70 touchdowns while quarterbacking Armwood to two straight state title appearances (2013-14).
Cade Fortin (6-3, 220), was a four-star prospect coming out of North Gwinnet High School. He suffered injuries as a high school senior, but in his junior year compiled 1,841 yards and 16 TDs while rushing for 512 yards and three TDs leading his teams to a state championship.
At North Carolina, Fortin saw limited time. He appeared in four games, including two starts as a true freshman. He totaled 388 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown.
McCloud (6-0, 190) returns in the starter role, but will face immediate pressure from Johnson as his experience outweighs McCloud’s time in program – especially with the change at Head Coach. McCloud stepped up last year in relief of Blake Barnett, starting ten games. McCloud completed 55.4% of his passes for 1,429 yards and 12 TDs. He also carried the ball 105 times for 283 yards and four TDs.
Johnson and McCloud are dual threats. Fortin is more of a pro-style back.
The Bulls were able to get on the field July 13. With limited on field coaching time, it remains to be seen who will earn the starting spot. My bet is Johnson will emerge as the starter.