Welcome to the latest installment of “Welcome New Bulls!” where we discuss each position group in the USF 2020 recruiting class along with 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 Texas game on September 5th, let’s take a closer look at the class of 2020 QB + RB room consisting of Katravis Marsh, Jordan Smith, and Brian Battie. In the following paragraphs, I’ll do a brief breakdown on each player along with my expectation on what 2020 (and beyond) holds for each QB and RB.
Katravis Marsh, Hialeah, FL (Miami Central HS)
As a recruit, Marsh was the 42nd ranked Pro-Style QB coming out of high school, receiving offers from Utah, Tennessee, UCF, Tulane, and FAU to name a few. The one-time Utah Ute commit signed with the Bulls on National Signing Day as the Bulls’ second-highest ranked recruit in the 2020 class.
As we step into the film room, I’d like to note that Marsh is a pass-first QB that has the athletic ability to beat defenses with his legs. If you turn on the tape, you’ll see Marsh continuously pick up yards on the ground, but the pro-style label placed on the QB is what truly bests describes Marsh at the position. Shows good zip on the ball with deceptive arm strength to throw receivers open on deep passes down the field. Willingness to hang in the pocket and take a hit before delivering the ball. Great ball placement across the board, whether on short, intermediate, or deep routes down the field. Low-risk, high-reward type QB that will take what the defense gives him, but has the arm strength to uncork it and take chances down the field.
Player Comparison: I normally do a former/current USF player comparison, but with Marsh, current FSU QB James Blackman would be a more appropriate comp for the former Miami Central QB. Similar build as Blackman standing at 6-5, both show the ability to tuck the ball and run (when the play isn’t there) along with underrated arm strength to rip the ball downfield on intermediate and deep passing routes.
Jordan Smith, Lake City, FL (Columbia HS)
Next up we have Jordan Smith out of Lake City, FL (Columbia HS). Smith was ranked as the 26th Dual-Threat QB in the country, holding offers from schools such as Ole Miss, Illinois, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, and Central Michigan to name a few. Smith was teammates with Bulls LB Le’Vontae Camiel at Columbia HS.
As we step into the film room, the biggest thing that stands out about Smith’s game is his ability to improvise and make plays. The true definition of a dual-threat QB, Smith consistently shows the ability to beat a defense on both the ground and through the air. As a runner, defenses will be forced to spy him due to his ability to not just pick up yards on the ground, but break off chunk plays that could devastate a defense if not contained properly. Comfortable throwing from the pocket along with delivering accurate passes on the move. Underrated throwing ability that gets overlooked due to his threat as a runner.
Player Comparison: I really think that former USF QB BJ Daniels is a solid comparison to Jordan Smith. Both flashed the dual-threat ability to tear up defenses on the ground along with being more than capable passers to shred secondaries when asked to.
Player Projections for Marsh and Smith: I decided to put the two QBs together here due to the current situation at the QB position. With Jordan McCloud, Cade Fortin, and Noah Johnson being the projected top three QBs on the roster in 2020 (in no order), it would make all the sense in the world to redshirt Marsh and Smith barring that either freshman leapfrogs any of the veterans on the depth chart before Week 1 at Texas. I do believe that the sky’s the limit for both QBs and I’ll be really interested to see how both develop in the coming years.
Brian Battie, Sarasota, FL (Sarasota HS)
Being the only true freshman RB to join the Bulls in the 2020 class, Brian Battie hails from Sarasota, FL (Sarasota HS). Battie was ranked as the 102nd RB in the country, picking up offers from schools such as Kentucky, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee State, and Northern Illinois to name a few.
As we step into the film room, Battie’s verified 4.49 40 immediately jumps off the screen as you see him consistently pull away from defenders at the second level. Shifty RB that can juke defenders out of a phone booth. Ability to change direction will devastate defenses in the open field, whether on big runs or passes out of the backfield. Underrated strength as a smaller RB (5’8″, 170 LBS), showing the ability to break tackles on inside running plays. Displays solid patience and vision as a runner when the play hasn’t developed yet. A true “makes something out of nothing” RB that will create his own yards no matter the situation on the field.
Player Comparison: Before Kelley Joiner hit the scene for USF, my initial comparison for Battie was Johnny Ford. All three RBs are the perfect example of what you look for in a change-of-pace back: Quick and elusive RBs that are absolute THREATS to a defense once you get them out in space.
Player Projection for Battie: News dropped over the week that junior RB Darrian Felix will be eligible for the 2020 season via Twitter. Along with that, Derek Kopp from ABC7/NBC2 did a segment with Felix and freshman RB Yasias Young (who will be joining the Bulls as a preferred walk-on) as the two former Ft. Myers HS players join forces at USF this upcoming season. (Video segment can be found here.) Needless to say, this is a CROWDED backfield heading into the season and it’ll be really interesting to see how new RBs coach Pat White utilizes the backfield throughout the year. Battie has the talent to play right away, but with guys like Joiner and Ford being the vets on the roster, this could end of being a redshirt year for the RB as he gets acclimated to the college game. Similar to the QB position, this isn’t a talent issue with Battie at all. It’s just a loaded position from top to bottom where carries can be handed out to several backs on the roster.
Leave your thoughts and comments below and stay tuned for our next installment of “Welcome New Bulls!” later this month!