Welcome to the latest installment of our new series, “Welcome New Bulls!”. This series is devoted to discussing each position group in the USF recruiting class of 2019 and my expectations for each player as they prepare for their first collegiate season adorning green and gold for our beloved Bulls. While it’s difficult to predict exactly how much each true freshmen will contribute on the field in year one at the collegiate level, I’ll take a stab at it based on the most current USF roster available. Without further ado, let’s get the show on the road!
As the season inches closer and closer to the Wisconsin game on August 30th, let’s take a closer look at the class of 2019 DL room consisting Tyrik Jones (rikthefreak_), Thomas Nance (BeGreatNance), and Jason Vaughn (Jasonvaughn25). In the following paragraphs, I’ll do a brief breakdown on each player along with my expectation on what 2019 (and beyond) holds for each lineman.
Let’s start with 6-2, 235 LB DE Tyrik Jones out of Plantation High School in Plantation, FL. Jones last played for Arizona Western College before committing to the Bulls in December 2018. According to 247, Jones was rated as a three-star recruit out of JUCO, receiving offers from USF and Hawaii.
As we step into the film room, let’s take a second and acknowledge the effort that Jones gives on every play. I know that I’ve highlighted that trait many times in this series, but if you don’t see a high effort/high motor guy on tape, you don’t recruit them, end of story. In the tape, Jones goes sideline to sideline with ease which is always a good thing to see from a defensive end. Jones shows very good play recognition at the position which is highlighted throughout the film on plays where he stays home when asked to contain off the edge and on screen plays where he doesn’t over-commit when the offensive line releases up field. The thing that I enjoyed the most from his film was his ability to make plays no matter who had the ball in their hands. With weak-side defensive ends, this is something that you love to see as it essentially adds another linebacker on the field to make a play on the ball. This isn’t to limit Jones as just a LB on the line as he had success with his hand in the dirt as well, utilizing a quick first step and speed/athleticism to beat the man in front of him.
As for the 2019 season, I expect Jones to be a contributor at the Fox/Reaves position which fits the style of play that Jones brings from the JUCO level. As we await for the week 1 depth chart to drop, it will be hard to predict what type of playing time that Jones may receive early on. As with every depth chart in America, guys will move up and down on the list weekly, so keep your eyes peeled on who you see out there every week.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where the DE position loses two great Bulls in Kirk Livingstone and Greg Reaves. As I mentioned before, I see Jones at the Fox position more where his athleticism is best utilized at that spot on the field. Look for Jones and several other Bulls to compete for the spot with the entire DE position going through some “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” next season. (Thanks David Bowie).
Next on the list we have 6-3, 252 LB DE Thomas Nance out of Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, FL. According to 247, Nance was rated as a three-star recruit out of high school, receiving offers from schools such as Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, and Toledo to name a few.
As we step into the film room, the first thing that jumps out from Nance’s film is his athletic ability no matter what his position was on the field. These positions include RB, DE, TE, and few opportunities to sling the ball at QB as well. The scary thing about that is Nance was effective no matter where you put him as he was recruited for both DE and TE out of high school. When he was not toting the rock or making catches over defenders, Nance did a fantastic job of running down the ball carrier on defense with any runs to the outside. By using his speed and quickness at the position, the ball carrier was often stopped right before/right at the line of scrimmage. Nance also showed the capability to be effective as either a stand-up end/OLB or in a three-point stance in the same position. With a great first step and his speed/quickness that I mentioned before, Nance has the opportunity to be a terror on the Bulls defensive line for years to come. As a do-it-all player throughout his high school career, don’t think for a second that Nance will have to learn the DE position as a Bull. Based on the film, it seems like he has a good grasp of the position already with the transition from HS to college being the next big hurdle for Nance to accomplish over the next year.
As for the 2019 season, I expect Nance to redshirt until further notice. Now who fills in behind the starters (Reaves and Livingstone) is anyone’s guess at this point as the staff could rotate guys like Nance, Vaughn, and Jones at the position as the year goes on. Look for the Wisconsin game to eye out who those backups are, but don’t be surprised if guys like Nance see playing time as the season goes on with the two-deep being in flux at the moment.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where the position opens up (Like I mentioned previously with Tyrik Jones). It’s difficult to predict who has an upper hand at the starting jobs next season, but leave it to this season to find out who comes into spring camp next year as two presumed favorites to run away with the job for the 2020 season.
Last, but not least, we have 6-5, 233 LB DE Jason Vaughn out of Advance Prep Academy in Auburndale, FL. According to 247, Vaughn was rated as a three-star recruit out of prep school, receiving offers from USF, TCU, Albany, Tennessee Tech, and Youngstown State. Before early signing day, Vaughn was committed to TCU before flipping to USF.
As we step into the film room, the first thing that you notice from Vaughn’s film is his speed and quickness at the position. If you’re looking for a speed rusher at DE, look no further than Jason Vaughn who feasted on offensive tackles with his speed around the outside. It starts with a fantastic first step off the snap and follows with elite speed to turn the corner on the tackle. When choosing to speed rush, Vaughn did a good job of getting low enough and fighting off blocks to win against the man in front of him, something you hope to see from an end that knows that just running past the offensive tackle won’t win every time. I also thought that Vaughn was successful in using his hands when engaged with the offensive line, whether he attacked the outside of the line or went face up with the man in front of him. The one thing that you want to see from players that rely on speed at the end position is whether or not they can slow down and read the play when they need to. Vaughn showed the ability to do so when going 110 MPH wasn’t appropriate in making the play against the offense.
As for the 2019 season, Vaughn could very well see himself playing in more than 4 games (redshirt rule) where he would an active member of the DE rotation to keep Reaves and Livingstone fresh. As an early enrollee back in January, Vaughn had the opportunity to learn the defense before the rest of his peers (Jones and Nance) along with being productive throughout the entirety of spring camp. With that being said though, who will be the guys behind the starters is still an unknown at this point in time.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where you would believe that Vaughn (if he carries the momentum that he built in the spring to the fall season) would be one of the favorites to take over at the Fox position in 2020. The problem with saying that is the position has guys that could very well be a factor in the competition as well which is why listing any favorites before this season is over is a tad futile at this point. All I’m saying is get your popcorn out for the position battles that will ensue in 2020 as this will be a good position to follow when it’s all said and done.
Leave your thoughts and comments below and be sure to tune in next week when I breakdown the Class of 2019 LB/DB rooms!