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 DB room consisting of McArthur Burnett (Pahokee_Beast), Jayden Curry (jayyupnext27), Daquan Evans (@DaquanEvans24), and Leonard Parker (@leopar3235). 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 defensive back.
First things first, let’s start with 5-9, 193 LB DB McArthur Burnett out of Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL. Before committing to the Bulls last year, Burnett was a JUCO transfer from Coffeyville Community College, previously playing ball at the University of Florida from 2016 to 2017. According to 247, Burnett was rated as a three-star recruit out of JUCO, receiving offers from USF, Toledo, Hawaii, South Alabama, and Chattanooga. Burnett arrives at USF as a redshirt junior, having two years of eligibility left with the Bulls.
As we step into the film room, the first thing that jumps out to me about Burnett’s film was his knack for being in the right place at the right time. When this happened, Burnett was either able to deflect the ball in the air or snag a pick from the QB. I thought that Burnett did a good job in man coverage situations, often winning the 1 v. 1 battles against the receiver on deep passes down the field. In zone coverage looks, Burnett did a fine job of working his way back to the receiver, showing the ability to plant his foot in ground and make a break to the ball. The last thing that I’ll highlight from his film is Burnett’s effectiveness in run support, something you don’t see often from the cornerback position at any level. Not only was he effective as a tackler, but he also showed the willingness to stop the run both inside and outside of the hash marks.
As for the 2019 season, Burnett is currently behind guys like Eugene Bowman and Daquan Evans on the depth chart. Keep in mind that this is the week 1 depth chart where things could change weekly at the position. Don’t be surprised to see Burnett contribute in the secondary this season along with him being a factor on special teams as well.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where Mike Hampton and KJ Sails will still have another year left at USF before graduating. For guys like Burnett that will be seniors in 2020, this will be their last opportunity to fight for playing time as the #2 guy behind both players. With enough collegiate experience at the position to make an impact in the secondary, expect Burnett to be a steady contributor at the position over the next two years until further notice.
Next up we have 5-11, 194 LB DB Jayden Curry out of IMG Academy from Virginia Beach, VA. Curry was USF’s first recruit out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Originally committed to North Carolina back in 2017, Curry decommitted from UNC back in April 2018 before committing to the Bulls last December. According to 247, Curry was rated as a three-star recruit, receiving offers from schools such as North Carolina, Maryland, N.C. State, Syracuse, and Texas A&M to name a few.
As we step into the film room, the first thing that should be mentioned about Curry is his versatility to play either at corner or at safety, either as a single-high free safety or up in the box as a strong safety. In the film, you will see Curry play at multiple spots in the secondary, something that he seemed comfortable doing during his time at IMG. I liked his read and react ability on film, especially at the safety position when you are the eyes for the entire defense. Whether at CB or FS, Curry is a willing hitter who will make a play on the ball at all spots on the field as shown on multiple plays throughout the tape. The last thing that I’ll mention about Curry is his length at the position, something that coaches prioritize in recruiting when looking for guys in the secondary. This will only help him at the next level where being a long, rangy CB or SS/FS might be the difference between making a play on the ball or not.
As for the 2019 season, I expect Curry to redshirt at this time. Similar to Burnett, Curry could work his way into the depth chart where he becomes a contributor at the CB position behind Hampton and Sails. (Who is still awaiting approval from the NCAA to play this season). This will be a week-by-week basis to see who goes up and who goes down on the depth chart, especially in the 2-deep spots where guys move around frequently depending on game/practice performance, injuries, etc.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where the CB position should still have its returning starters back with Hampton and Sails. What will be interesting to see is how the staff plans on using Curry down the road, especially with the secondary in flux with key departures across the board after the 2020 season. As someone that could play both corner or safety, look for the coaching staff to play Curry where he is needed the most in the coming years. Stay tuned!
Two down, two to go. Next on the list we have 5-11, 178 LB DB Daquan Evans out of Jones High School in Orlando, FL. According to 247, Evans was rated as a three-star recruit coming out of high school, receiving offers from schools such as Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, and Mississippi State to name a few.
As we step into the film room, the first thing that you will notice from the film is Daquan’s ability to fly around to the ball. As a safety throughout the course of the film, Evans did a good job of being in the right place at the right time (similar to Burnett) and when he wasn’t, he got to the ball in a hurry. The strong safety inside of him came out several times on film as he absolutely laid into a couple of guys on the field, showing the ability to cover the field like a free safety, but come up in run support like a strong safety. As a current CB for the Bulls, it’s good to know that Evans shares the same position versatility as Curry where both guys could/would be effective as safeties if they were ever moved to the back end of the defense. Evans is also another prime example of willing hitters in this class, a common theme in this article so far with Burnett and Curry being mentioned before.
As for the 2019 season, Evans is currently listed as the 3rd CB behind Bentlee Sanders and KJ Sails. If Sails can play this season and Sanders becomes the de facto starter at the nickle position, expect Evans to contribute this season as a backup to KJ. Depending on how much the position will rotate in and out, Evans has the potential to be a steady contributor for the Bulls on both defense and special teams as well.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where things won’t change much in the position group until the end of 2020 when Hampton and Sails bid farewell to the Bulls. Regardless, expect Evans to continue the momentum that he built up from the spring to be a steady contributor for the Bulls until his time (along with the other corners on the team) to shine arrives in 2021 when the starting CB positions are up for grabs.
Last, but not least, we have 5-11, 209 LB DB Leonard Parker out of Plant High School in Tampa, FL. According to 247, Parker was rated a three-star recruit out of high school, receiving offers from schools such as Indiana, Colorado State, Toledo, Middle Tennessee State, and Western Michigan to name a few.
As we step into the film room, it’s important to note that Parker was a do-it-all athlete for Plant High School during his time there, lining up at WR, DB, and RB. Not only was he a factor on both sides of the ball, but he also was a threat in the return game where he scored a few times as a returner as well. Mind you, this is at a Plant program that continuously turns out D1 football players every year along with being a consistent threat in the playoffs every season. With the majority of his film spent on the other side of the ball, the handful of plays that I saw on defense showed me a willing tackler who has a nose for the football. I know that this has been a continuous theme throughout the article, but Parker shows the ability to be a in-the-box strong safety that could walk up to the front seven and help out in run support when the defense calls for it. Parker is a strong kid as demonstrated throughout the film on offense, something that will carry over well for him on the other side of the ball at the next level.
As for the 2019 season, I expect Parker to redshirt with the safety position being in good shape at this time. Parker could be a contributor on special teams this season, depending on the coaching staff choosing to redshirt Parker or not. Nevertheless, this will be a good year for him to really learn the safety position as a full-time member in the secondary instead of being a part-time member like he was in high school.
Looking past 2019 brings us to 2020 where the back end of the secondary won’t change a whole lot with Nick Roberts and Vincent Davis holding down the safety spots for the next few years. Devin Studstill will be moving on to greener pastures after this season, opening up the spot behind Roberts at SS next year. This opens the door for guys like Parker to insert themselves into the conversation as possible contributors at the strong safety position next season. As for now, enjoy the safety position for what it is and look out for the future Bulls who will roam the back end of the defense for years to come.
Leave your thoughts and comments below and thank you for tuning in to the “Welcome New Bulls!” series!