Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'TampaBayTimes'.

More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


  • TheBullsPen.com Forums
    • USF South Florida Bulls Athletics
    • Our Alma Mater
    • Bull Backers Club
    • Prospects & Potential Recruits
    • American Athletic Conference
    • State of Florida College Athletics
    • Tampa Bay and General Sports
    • Merchandise & Memorabilia
    • The Trough
    • The Mad Cow Lounge
    • RSS News
    • Hall of Fame Posts
  • Sports Books's Topics
  • Fantasy Sports, Games & Contests's Topics
  • Game Day Grub's Topics
  • High School Sports's Topics
  • Golf's Topics
  • For Bourbon Folk's Bourbons and such
  • Brew Bulls's Topics
  • Tech Heads's Topics
  • TV/Movie club's Topics
  • Construct-a-Bulls's Topics
  • Away Game Travel's Topics


There are no results to display.

There are no results to display.


  • Bulls Events
  • Bulls Game Schedules
  • Golf's Events


  • 2002
    • at Oklahoma
  • 2003
  • 2004
    • at UAB
  • 2005
    • vs. Louisville
    • vs. North Carolina State
  • 2006
    • vs McNeese
    • vs FIU
    • vs UConn
    • at UNC
    • vs Pittsburgh
    • vs Syracuse
    • at West Virginia
    • vs East Carolina - Bowl Game
  • 2007
    • vs Elon
    • at Auburn
    • vs UNC
    • vs West Virginia
    • at FAU
    • vs UCF
    • at Rutgers
    • at UConn
    • at Syracuse
    • vs Louisville
    • at Pittsburgh
    • vs Oregon - Bowl Game
  • 2008
    • at UCF
    • vs Kansas
    • at West Virginia
  • 2009
    • vs Wofford
    • at Western Kentucky
    • at Florida State
    • at Syracuse
    • vs West Virginia
    • vs Louisville
    • at UConn
    • vs Northern Illinois
  • 2010
    • at Florida
    • vs Western Kentucky
    • at West Virginia
    • at Cincinnati
    • vs Rutgers
    • at Miami
    • vs Clemson
  • 2011
    • at Syracuse
  • 2012
    • vs Cincinnati
    • at Nevada
    • vs UConn
  • 2013
    • vs Miami
    • at Houston
  • 2014
    • at Wisconsin
  • 2015
    • at Florida State
    • at Maryland
    • vs Memphis
    • at UCF
    • vs Western Kentucky


  • Charlie Strong
  • Player to be named
  • Second Player to be named
  • Jim Leavitt


  • Wallpapers
    • Official Wallpapers
    • TBP Wallpapers
  • Media Guides and Materials
    • 2020
    • 2019
    • 2018
    • 2017
    • 2016
    • 2015
    • 2014
  • David Gold
    • High Res 4K Backgrounds
    • Phone Backgrounds


  • TBP Football Quizzes
  • Member Submitted Quizzes


  • Member Points Raffles
  • Ticket Raffle
  • Donor Giveaway
  • Member Giveaway
  • In Game Giveaway
  • Bulls Football Crowdfund Raffle

Find results in...

Find results that contain...

Date Created

  • Start


Last Updated

  • Start


Filter by number of...


  • Start





Website URL







Full Shipping Name

Street Address

City, State and Zip Code

Found 63 results

  1. By Joey Knight Published 2 hours ago Updated 2 hours ago USF athletics as you knew it before the coronavirus’ rampage remains intact. To this point, the Bulls haven’t been forced to lay off staffers, eliminate sports or even impose furloughs. Which isn’t to say they haven’t gone through this crisis unscathed. Athletic director Michael Kelly said Thursday that his department must trim 15 percent from its budget for the 2020-21 academic year. He has spent part of the self-isolation period collaborating with coaches and senior staffers on where the trims will occur. “It’s been a collaborative process,” Kelly said in a video conference with the Tampa Bay Times. “I certainly wanted coaches to be a part of (the discussions). It’s not easy for anybody, but I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to just cut without the knowledge about how to handle your department.” ... While Kelly didn’t specify where USF’s cuts would occur, he acknowledged some coaches volunteered to have their salaries reduced, a measure that has yet to be implemented. Whether more drastic measures are required hinges on how the pandemic affects fall revenues. Rest of article
  2. TBT had a fun article today on "A debate on Tampa Bay’s iconic sports numbers". Bulls were interspersed throughout with the winners being: No. 9 Quinton Flowers, USF quarterback (2014-17) Tyler Johnson, Lightning forward (2012-present) Flowers is arguably the most dynamic football player in USF’s 23-season history given his multi-dimensional ability, though he has been snake-bitten so far as a pro. Johnson is a speedy spark plug who has played a key role for most of seven-plus seasons, usually in a complementary role, though he stepped into the spotlight during the 2015 Stanley Cup finals with a team-high 23 points. Wore it best: Johnny be good, as the song says, but Flowers was better. No. 30 Ben Bishop, Lighting goalie (2012-17) Charlie Bradley, USF basketball forward/guard (1981-85) Bishop won two Game 7s, provided stability in the net during parts of five seasons and helped groom current starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. Bishop won two Game 7s, provided stability in the net during parts of five seasons and helped groom current starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. Bradley was, and still is, USF’s greatest men’s basketball player. He scored 2,319 points, averaging 19.7 per game, and as a sophomore led the country in scoring much of the season before finishing fifth. Plus he played most of his career before the 3-point shot was added. Wore it best: Bradley; greatest ever is good enough for us. No debate: No. 00 Sara Nevins, USF softball pitcher Double zeros are appropriate since Nevins threw eight solo no-hitters, including two perfect games.
  3. Joey makes a case for pretty much the unthinkable, a chance for USF MBB to go Dancing ....
  4. USF defensive coordinator: tackling greatly improved Brian-Jean Mary says his unit’s tackling is “probably the best thing we’ve done so far in camp.” By Joey Knight Published August 7 ... "I think our run defense is sounder than it was last year. Guys understand where they need to be and they’re straining to get there, and I think our tackling has been probably the best thing we’ve done so far in camp. “I know we struggled, we missed tackles last year, and we haven’t been in a scrimmage yet ... but I really believe we’re gonna tackle a lot better than we did last year.” ... But Jean-Mary indicated Wednesday that he believes his unit possesses more “quality depth” at every level. That includes linebacker, where safety Khalid McGee and defensive end Greg Reaves had to play out of necessity for all or parts of last season. More
  5. By Ryan Kolakowski Published Yesterday TAMPA ― Tailback Trevon Sands hasn’t had the straightforward career he once envisioned at USF. He never has reached the depth chart’s top rung, toiling behind 1,000-yard rushers Marlon Mack and Jordan Cronkrite, among others. He committed to USF under former coach Willie Taggart, and stuck with the Bulls when Taggart departed for Oregon after the 2016 season. He enters his final season with 180 yards on 45 attempts, and more offensive coordinators (three) than career starts (two). Despite the regular change, Sands remained in Tampa. “It’s my brothers,” Sands said. “I will never leave my team. They kept me here.” In the era of the transfer portal, it seems easier than ever for student-athletes to make the leap to a new campus. Look no further than the Bulls’ transfer-laden roster. Sands never considered leaving the Bulls. Instead, he turned his attention to his teammates and their work on the field. “I’m here because of them,” Sands said of his teammates. “I won’t regret anything.” The former three-star recruit, and once-quiet running back, is actively welcoming new teammates as he enters his senior season. He is more vocal in practice, working to encourage the young players who will see the field this season. “Leadership comes with time, it’s not something that’s given to you,” said quarterback Blake Barnett, himself a graduate transfer. “I think [Trevon’s] doing a great job. He’s a guy that’s been here for a good amount of time, and the team really respects him.” This year, USF’s running back room features Cronkrite, Sands, junior Odunayo Seriki Jr., sophomore Dave Small, freshman Josh Berry and sophomore Johnny Ford (when not aligned in the slot). Sands, who views himself as a power back, added 20 pounds with strength training and a new diet this offseason to become the heaviest tailback on the roster. “What’s special about this group is that, if you take one out, there’s no falloff,” said Sands, listed at 5-foot-11, 221 pounds. “Everyone’s ready to work.” His role as a vocal leader, vision for team unity and offseason preparation has him feeling excited for the upcoming season. Rest of article
  6. By Eduardo A. Encina Published 2 hours ago TAMPA — Statues honoring football heroes are usually erected outside stadiums — and certainly there’s no one more deserving to be bronzed in front of Raymond James Stadium than Lee Roy Selmon. That Selmon’s statue was unveiled Friday morning in downtown Tampa, far away from the Bucs stadium or USF, pays true homage to the man’s contributions beyond football. The 8-foot cast bronze statue, which is at the corner of Florida and Brorein in the shadow of the Selmon Expressway, says enough in its design. Selmon isn’t wearing a helmet or in full uniform. It’s not a glimpse in time depicting Selmon bearing down on an opposing quarterback. Selmon is wearing his retired No. 63 Bucs jersey, but it’s over a collared dress shirt. He’s wearing business slacks and dress shoes. He has his right hand on his hip, a mannerism familiar to those who were close to him. And Selmon’s left hand is giving the USF’s “Go Bulls” horn salute. It’s on purpose that Selmon isn’t holding a football. He has his watch on his left wrist and his wedding ring on, but most recognizable might be the smile. Rest of article
  7. The Bulls coach is nearing 1,000 wins, and perhaps an Olympic coaching gig. By Joey Knight Updated March 22 TAMPA — No nook or crevice is wasted in USF softball coach Ken Eriksen’s cozy second-floor office, where a hearty assortment of mementos, knickknacks and photos have come to roost. Hats and helmets abound, as do plaques and trophies and trinkets. Hanging stately on one wall is a framed USF jersey bearing Eriksen’s name and No. 732, presented after a 2013 triumph against Seton Hall, when he became the school’s winningest coach in any sport. Perched on a nearby brown shelf are a collection of yellow-green softballs commemorating career wins 500, 600, 700, 800 and 900. Tucked in the back of an armoire is a photo of the 1982 USF baseball team on which he played, the first in school history to reach the NCAA Tournament. Rest of story
  8. Coach Charlie Strong says fans will see a bigger, faster, stronger team in 2019. New offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell takes in his first USF spring practice.(OCTAVIO JONES | Times) By Joey Knight Published Yesterday TAMPA ― In the immediate wake of last season’s dreadful finish, marked by offensive stagnation, shoddy tackling and inner strife, USF coach Charlie Strong knew he had to make significant changes. Starting with Charlie Strong. “I start with myself, then go with the assistant coaches, and the players are always last,” said Strong, whose team dropped its last six games of 2018 after a 7-0 start. “And I had to get better because you know what happens is, you go along there and you’re winning and you let the little things slip. ... That’s what I allowed to (occur), and I can’t allow that to happen.” A winter overhaul ― in terms of staff, scheme and strength-and-conditioning approach ― ensued. Fresh off those pivotal three months, the 2019 Bulls convened Tuesday for their first of 15 spring workouts. Some players were noticeably bigger; all presumably were bent on proving the second half of 2018 was an aberration. Rest of article
  9. By Joey Knight Published Yesterday TAMPA ― Everything about the Pompano Beach point guard, from his surname to his stats to the state title he helped capture for Ely High, seemed conspicuous. Yet to major-college recruits, Laquincy Rideau may as well have been the name of a New Orleans gourmet. “He was overlooked,” said legendary Ely coach Melvin Randall, who has won six of his Florida-record eight state titles with the Tigers. “Plain overlooked.” No other rationale sufficiently explains how Rideau’s staggering debut as USF point guard was preceded by a two-year hitch in Division I obscurity, followed by a season on the sideline. As a teen, his sturdy frame and skill set were there all along, accompanied by nary a red flag. Rest of article
  10. By Joey Knight Published Yesterday At this rate, the American Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Week award might be re-named in Alexis Yetna's honor. The Bulls' 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman has won it for the fourth time, two days after recording his league-leading 10th double-double (career-best 28 points, 13 rebounds) in USF’s 77-57 victory Saturday at East Carolina. Yetna also earned the honor on Dec. 17, Dec. 24 and Jan. 14. Rest of article
  11. Even I don't remember Leon Smith .... By Joey Knight Published Yesterday Only 19 games into his USF career, redshirt junior Laquincy Rideau already has drawn comparisons to the best point guards in program history. Soon, he’ll have a statistical argument to bolster his fledgling case. Rideau enters Saturday’s game at East Carolina (4 p.m., ESPNU) with 62 steals. With seven more, he breaks the Bulls' 45-year-old single-season record held by Hillsborough High alumnus Leon Smith. Rest of story
  12. By Joey Knight Published Yesterday Updated Yesterday ST. PETERSBURG ― Suddenly, Bulls fans have a reason to tune in to Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game. Two of them, in fact. CB Mazzi Wilkins, who made 21 starts over the past two seasons, confirmed Wednesday he’s a late addition to the East roster. As a result, USF will have at least one representative in the contest for the 12th consecutive year. Until Wilkins' arrival, rangy former Bulls TE Kano Dillon was the contest’s only player with a USF connection. Dillon, on the West roster, played at Oregon as a graduate-transfer in 2018. Rest of article
  13. Published: October 19, 2018 Heralded Bulls 6-foot-8 sophomore Alexis Yetna, whose collegiate debut already has been delayed one year by the NCAA, potentially faces another brief postponement. Second-year men's coach Brian Gregory said Yetna, who played on France's under-20 national team two summers ago, is nursing a hyper-extended elbow suffered two weeks before preseason practice began. Thursday afternoon's practice was the first in which he was cleared to engage in contact. Additionally, 6-7 freshman Madut Akec of Bradenton's Victory Rock Prep is nursing a broken foot, Gregory added. "(Yetna) has been able to go through everything, just whenever we go live or any contact stuff, he has stayed out," Gregory said. "We're gonna take that slow with roughly three weeks before we open up. Should be plenty of time." .... Look for women's coach Jose Fernandez to use two freshman point guards — Elisa Pinzan and Sydni Harvey — to replace three-year starter Laia Flores. Pinzan, deemed a five-star recruit by Blue Star Europe, played for Italy in the under-18 European Championships and under-19 World Cup. Harvey twice was named a Division II Class AA Miss Basketball for Tennessee, leading Nashville's Brentwood Academy to four divisional state titles. "I think they bring a different pace," said Fernandez, whose team opens the season Nov. 6 at Ohio State. ... PROJECTED WOMEN'S STARTERS: PG Sydni Harvey (5-10)/Elisa Pinzan (5-8), G Kitija Laksa (6-0), G Laura Ferreira (5-11), F Alyssa Rader (6-1), C Beatriz Jordao (6-3) PROJECTED MEN'S STARTERS: PG Laquincy Rideau (6-1, 209), SG David Collins (6-3, 208), G T.J. Lang (6-7, 213), SF Alexis Yetna (6-8, 231), C Michael Durr (7-0, 245) Complete article
  14. Published: October 19, 2018 TAMPA — There's no skirting the laws of physics and gravity. All kickers, regardless of the amount of horsepower harnessed in their respective quads and calves, have a ceiling. For most, it's a sobering reality. For USF walk-on Coby Weiss, it was a jubilant one. He encountered it Friday night, after a 22-yard field goal he had made hundreds of times in his sleep. Weiss' head smacked it repeatedly as euphoric Bulls teammates hoisted his 160-pound body upward in the congested visitors locker room at Tulsa. Fortunately for him, it featured soft breakaway panels. Otherwise, his head might have throbbed as mightily as his right ring finger. "It was fun," he said with a chuckle. And so ended the most excruciating, exhilarating week of Weiss' brief collegiate career. Only six days before at UMass, the sophomore transfer had been leveled by Blake High alumnus Isaiah Rodgers on a first-half PAT. Rodgers was ejected. Weiss finished the game, albeit in agony. "Somewhere in the process of getting destroyed, my finger either got caught in his face mask or hit the ground, and I completely broke the top knuckle area of my finger," he said. Surgery followed, and Weiss missed the early days of what already would be a short practice week. "We didn't even know if he was gonna make the trip (to Tulsa), much less be the kicker," defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said. Rest of article
  15. full article Bulls redshirt junior RT Marcus Norman, who started all 12 games last season, has been named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which recognizes the nation's top interior lineman. Norman becomes the second USF player named to a national watch list this preseason, joining TE Mitch Wilcox (Mackey Award).
  16. We have had some threads discussing baseball this season but not much about softball. Seems like they are in a good position to take the conference and possibly host a regional, although their RPI sits at 40. Softball battles Witchita State this weekend with AAC top spot up for grabs. Baseball is idle this week. () May madness beckons for USF baseball, softball
  17. Turns out, USF's spring game may have answered the Bulls' most pressing question after all. One might even suggest Saturday's proceedings left no room for doubt. An on-campus stadium probably wouldn't nudge the needle in terms of attendance. And you thought we were talking about the quarterbacks. Nope, just the ones who choose — or don't choose — to come watch them. full article Does the lack of spring game attendance mean that an OCS would not help attendance?
  18. DT Deadrin Senat While the projections of where Senat gets drafted vary wildly, there's a consensus among the mock-ups that he'll be the first Bull taken. Senat was un-blockable down the stretch in 2017 (three sacks alone in the Birmingham Bowl), propelling him into the collective consciousness of scouts during the all-star and combine season, where his stock didn't appear to diminish. We're erring on the side of optimism and saying Senat will hear his name called shortly after noon Saturday. Projected round: 4 WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling We see Valdes-Scantling, who possesses the greatest physical upside of any Bulls prospect (6-foot-5, 208 pounds), to hear his name called on Day 3 of what should be another banner draft for Lakewood High. While knocked for his hands (or lack thereof) from time to time in college, Valdes-Scantling didn't have a drop at USF's pro day, and absolutely torched the 40 at the NFL combine (4.37 seconds). There's simply too much promise for Valdes-Scantling not to be drafted. Projected round: 6 Related: Draft prospect Marquez Valdes-Scantling puts hands, heart on display DE Mike Love Our draft-weekend surprise. When healthy at USF, Love was highly effective (5.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss in 2017) and appeared to have a really impressive pro day on campus last month. One assessment we read hails him for his "excellent motor and above-average skill set as a pass rusher relative to his overall production." Our hunch is, some team takes a chance on him late Saturday. Projected round: 7 DB Deatrick Nichols General assessment is, Nichols projects as a slot corner instead of an elite one in the NFL, though his blistering 40 time at USF's pro day (unofficially clocked between 4.32 and 4.36 seconds) may have changed some minds. One assessment we saw indicated several of his 11 career interceptions were the result of deflected or poorly thrown balls, but we have higher regard for his anticipation and play-making. Projected round: 7 Related: USF pro day: Deatrick Nichols makes fast work of 40 Free-agent signings We expect these guys' phones to ring moments after the draft concludes DT Bruce Hector: This Robinson High alumnus is simply too athletic not to get a shot at making a roster RB D'Ernest Johnson: Might actually have a better chance of making an NFL roster than Nichols or Love, just based on his versatility and special-teams prowess. QB Quinton Flowers: We see Flowers getting invited to a rookie mini-camp, and probably not as a QB S Devin Abraham: His college production (nine INTs) and high football IQ (befitting the son of a former NFL corner) will earn him a hard look in an NFL camp FULL ARTICLE:
  19. TAMPA — His collection of skills seems to ooze NFL draft jargon: hip swivel, burst, agility, leverage, active hands. Over the past three or four months, most — or all — of these attributes have been affixed to USF defensive lineman Bruce Hector. "Most people talk to me about my athleticism," the former Robinson High three-sport athlete said. "My hands, quick feet, good hips. My ability to get upfield — when they watch that on film they like that." To be sure, the Bulls' 2017 sacks leader (seven) is neither the fastest or even fiercest of his team's draft prospects. Most would agree those titles belong to wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling and fellow interior defensive lineman Deadrin Senat, respectively. But consider how Hector lined up at nose tackle and three-technique in the Bulls' four-man front. Ask his high school basketball coach about his gracefulness — girth aside — on the basketball court. Let his position coach — also Robinson's wrestling coach — tell you what a force of nature he could've been on the mat. One might come away convinced that pound for pound, Hector could be the best overall athlete of USF's 2018 prospects. Full Article, Tampa Bay Times Does Bruce go first for the Bulls?
  20. things we expect to see 1. A lot of throws to USF veteran Mitch Wilcox. The Bulls' only tight end with college game experience, Wilcox by many accounts has been USF's most prolific pass catcher this spring. In one recent practice, he had four touchdown receptions in 11-on-11 work, according to USF sports-information officials who were observing. things we won’t see 1. A starting quarterback named. Unless one guy absolutely goes off the chain, we just don't see this happening. And why should it? This is one highly controlled, compressed intrasquad practice. Ensuing summer workouts, and sweltering preseason camps, could be far greater determinants of who's most capable of leading these teams. 4. USF's starting kicker in '18? To this point, walk-ons Jake Vivonetto and Marco Salani, and new P Trent Schneider (who enrolled in January) have competed at kicker, albeit to mixed reviews. Wouldn't shock us if someone else is brought on board (perhaps through an open tryout) to intensify the battle. Springing forward (Players poised to break through) RB Elijah Mack, USF. After taking only three handoffs last season, this 6-foot, 220-pound redshirt sophomore (no relation to Marlon) has asserted himself as a serious threat to Florida transfer Jordan Cronkrite for the No. 1 job. On Wednesday, Bulls coach Charlie Strong told WDAE's morning hosts that Mack has "separated" himself. Full article:
  21. The Bucs held their annual local predraft workout, with 30 prospects who played at area colleges and high schools working out for the team, just two weeks before the NFL draft. While the Bucs don't likely need a quarterback with three under contract for 2018, there were four in attendance Thursday — USF's Quinton Flowers, Marshall's Chase Litton (Wharton), Florida's Malik Zaire and Florida International's Alex McGough (Gaither). Nearly half the contingent came from USF — Flowers, DE Mike Love, DTs Deadrin Senat and Bruce Hector (Robinson), RBs Darius Tice and D'Ernest Johnson, CBs Deatrick Nichols, Devin Abraham (East Lake) and Tajee Fullwood (Tampa Bay Tech), LB Auggie Sanchez, Gs Cameron Ruff (Jesuit) and Jeremy Hall and P Jonathan Hernandez. full article
  22. "Of all the state’s QB derbies, we expect this one — a two-player duel that could evolve into a three- or four-player race — to stretch the longest. While fourth-year junior Brett Kean and third-year sophomore Chris Oladokun have spent a year in coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's veer-and-shoot system, neither has spent much time on the field. They have Quinton Flowers — greatest player in program history — to thank for their limited live action."- Full article here: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/florida-gators/2018/03/29/ranking-floridas-most-interesting-college-quarterback-derbies/
  23. Joey KnightTimes staff writer Published: December 12, 2017 Updated: December 12, 2017 at 09:31 AM TAMPA — Having spent 11 games watching Tyre McCants in the flesh — all 236 pounds of it — USF coach Charlie Strong seems convinced his team’s leading receiver down the stretch could be someone’s leading rusher down the road. "I think he can do a whole lot (at the next level)," Strong said recently. "And he can play a lot of different positions, too. I think he’s a guy that can play running back." Niceville High coach John Hicks sure thought so, and his hunch helped the Eagles to a historic season in 2013. Needing a victory against Tate High in a one-quarter district shootout to earn a playoff berth, Hicks took his burly senior slot receiver and inserted him as a tailback in the I-formation. On the Eagles’ first scoring drive, McCants ran for 48 yards on four carries. Niceville won the shootout, 14-0, and ultimately advanced to the Class 7A state title game. "Ran power every play and they could do nothing about it," said Niceville running backs coach Adron Robinson, a close family friend whom McCants refers to as his uncle. "He told me in the locker room, ‘Feed me and we’ll get this win.’ After the first handoff, you could tell they were in trouble." Four autumns later, McCants was brandishing his dual threats — an ability to run downfield and downhill — to a national TV audience against UCF. On the third play from scrimmage, he took a screen pass from Quinton Flowers at midfield, broke a tackle and raced up the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown. The indelible image is McCants dragging 230-pound linebacker Chequan Burkett, who had a handful of McCants’ jersey, the last 15 yards. "When he gets the ball and it’s one-on-one," Strong said, "I’m gonna say he’s gonna win it most of the time." Meet the most physically distinctive offensive weapon you’re likely to see in the upcoming Birmingham Bowl. At 5-foot-11, 235 pounds, McCants — who will line up as a slot receiver — will be as big or bigger than three of the four linebackers on the two-deep Texas Tech depth chart. Yet Hicks confirms McCants ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds as a high school junior. "That’s where he gets you at, ’cause he’s got great speed," Bulls senior nickelback Deatrick Nichols said. He’s coming off the game of his life. In his nine-catch, 227-yard performance at UCF, McCants broke the Bulls’ single-game receiving yardage record in the first half (six receptions, 210 yards). Four of his catches went for 33 or more yards. And while he had established himself as a viable downfield threat long before that game, he was more noted for being arguably the best blocker on a receiving unit that takes immense pride in it. In the season opener at San Jose State, McCants had two critical blocks on the same D’Ernest Johnson 50-yard touchdown run. "A lot of times when you’re a little guy, you just run through ’em and you’re gonna knock them back," Strong said. "But he’s got a base where can sit down, he can put his hands on you. If he gets his hands on you then he can move you out of the way because of his size." The robust frame made McCants a fledgling force of nature in Niceville, where he was an only child raised by a single mom and grandmother. Robinson remembers seeing him at age 3 in his front yard playing football against himself. "I mean, he’s throwing balls, he’s running down and catching ’em, he’s juking his imaginary self," Robinson said. "And then he comes in crying and I said, ‘Tyre what’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘I lost.’ That’s when I knew I had something, if it mattered to him that much to where he wasn’t letting himself win." At Niceville High, Hicks employed him at running back, receiver, cornerback, safety, linebacker and kick returner. Though robust even then (200 pounds as a senior), he finished his prep career with more than 3,200 all-purpose yards and evolved into a three-star recruit. "USF actually did recruit me as a running back at first," said McCants, who had 818 receiving yards and 560 rushing yards as a senior. "And then when Marlon (Mack) and D’Ernest (signed), they said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna move you to receiver.’ " He really beefed up after tearing his left ACL in 2014, when he redshirted. He had only seven catches the following season, but three went for 34 or more yards. The breakthrough occurred in 2016, when he caught 25 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 15.4 yards per catch. It has been all downhill — in the dominant sense — ever since. McCants enters the Birmingham Bowl with 30 catches, 598 yards and a team best 19.9 yards per reception. "If you get him in the open field one-on-one, and you … get him on the safety, I’m gonna say he’s gonna win it 90 percent of the time," Strong said. "And it’s got to be one of those tackles where they’ve got to hit him before he gets started, because he can catch it and if he can get his pads squared up, he’s gonna win it and he’s gonna take the ball the distance."
  • Create New...