The Holtz Era has left most South Florida Bulls fans with a lingering, bitter taste following arguably the most disappointing campaign in the Bull’s short 14 year history (2011: 5-7, 1-6 Big East). Despite poor final results, the Holtz Era has managed to land a slew of highly touted transfers from major programs that could prove to be impact players in 2012.
Chris Dunkley (6’0, 180 pounds) transferred from Florida in 2011. After sitting out the 2011 campaign (NCAA transfer rules), Dunkley is primed to hit the field in 2012. Dunkley was the Class of 2010’s #7 WR, ESPN 150 #37 & an ESPN Four-Star prospect. Dunkley was a standout WR for Pahokee High School, named the Sun-Sentinel’s ‘Offensive Player of the Year’ & participated in 2010 Under Armour All-American Game. Despite Dunkley being listed as the 3rd WR on the 2012 Depth Chart, there are high hopes Dunkley’s blazing 4.4 40 speed will translate into big plays for the Bull’s 2012 Offense. Additionally, Coach Hargreaves noted that Dunkley has been getting a lot of reps as a kick returner on special teams. Keep an eye out for #1.
Mike McFarland (6’5, 245 pounds) transferred from Florida after redshirting the 2010 season. A successful NCAA Hardship Waiver allowed him to play the 2011 Season but McFarland only recorded one catch for 8 yards at TE, which could be attributed to the presence of Senior Evan Landi. Though, McFarland did appear in 12 games as a member of the Special Teams unit. McFarland is listed as the number 1 TE to pair up with Landi in the two TE set formation on the 2012 Depth Chart. McFarland was a QB for Blake High School (Tampa, FL). Coach Holtz has been praising #80 McFarland’s work in Vero Beach calling him “promising” & stating “I’m excited with how McFarland is coming along”. Todd Fitch elaborated further by saying “If you had a draft pick on this team today based on potential, Mike McFarland is the No. 1 draft pick. They don’t come like that.”
Aaron Lynch (6’6, 260 pounds) transferred from Notre Dame following the 2011 season. The Bull’s are currently awaiting the NCAA’s ruling on his Hardship Waiver to play the 2012 season. The true Sophomore earned Freshman All-American honors as a DE for the Irish. Lynch was the Class of 2011’s #3 DE, ESPN 150 #15, ESPN Four-Star prospect & participated in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Lynch was a standout DE for Island Coast High School (Cape Coral, FL). A successful waiver ruling would stack the Bull’s D-Line, which is already carrying highly touted DE Ryne Giddins & DT Cory Grissom. Number #19 would have arguably the biggest impact on the defense since current New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul.
The 2012 season, much like the 2011, begins with robust expectations from analysts & fans alike. The Bulls reported to fall camp last Sunday (August 5th) & spent Wednesday through Sunday (August 8th-18th) in Vero Beach for the annual preseason camp workouts which culminated in the Sunday, August 19th Fan Fest at Raymond James. The question still remains: Will this be the year the Bulls avoid the ’Mid-Season Meltdown’? And will the transfers & new recruits prove to be the fabric that allows the Bulls to successfully weave through their in conference schedule, finally capturing the allusive Big East Title? With the leadership of 20+ returning Seniors, many including me, believe this will be the year the Bulls take home the Big East Crown.