In a football season where COVID-19 is controlling the reigns, it is hard to predict the obstacles that will cross your team’s path. Whether a team’s players are infected by COVID-19, being quarantined due to contact tracing, or unavailable because of an injury, it is crucial to have players who can fill the shoes of those who cannot play.
For the South Florida Bulls’ football team, especially under first year Head Coach Jeff Scott, the “next man up” mentality has become an increasingly key factor of late.
Defensive Back and true freshman Chris Townsel (Deerfield Beach High School) unexpectedly found himself in the starting spot, just days ahead of what would go down as his debut in the defensive starting lineup.
For more insight into his first career start in green and gold, just his third collegiate contest mind you, we hopped on the phone with the 954 native. We picked his mind about several intriguing topics, including how it felt to be trusted as a starter in the Bulls’ lineup.
When asked about the days leading up to the Cincinnati game Townsel earnestly responded, “I found out that I was going to be starting on Tuesday, after the Monday [COVID-19] test. It was overwhelming because I didn’t know I’d get the chance to start this early [into the season].”
Townsel is a perfect example of being ready when your number is called. When asked what ran through his mind pre-game Townsel responded, “I made sure not to overthink anything while on the field during the game.” After earning Jeff Scott’s trust, Townsel did not disappoint. The Deerfield Beach native embraced the moment and grabbed his first career interception.
What an interception by Chris Townsel!!! Great play by the young Bull from the 561!! #BeatCinci @christownsel_ pic.twitter.com/uxq78K0JcZ
— 𝗦𝗼𝗙𝗹𝗼𝗕𝘂𝗹𝗹𝘀 (@SoFloBulls_) October 3, 2020
“We were coming off of an interception that the offense threw, and I knew that Cincinnati’s quarterback was going to test me because I am a freshman with no experience. We ran this certain type of play in practice, so I just had to make sure my technique translated from the practice field to the game”, Townsel explained. Talk about a debut.
Townsel’s interception came on Desmond Ridder’s pass to the back-left corner of the endzone. After ripping the ball out of the hands of Cincinnati wide receiver Jayshon Jackson, Townsel put on display the mental maturity that led to Jeff Scott giving him the nod. “I knew I had to step up for my team and make that play in the endzone,” Townsel added.
Interception by USF. #Bearcats give one away in the redzone. Ridder was trying to hit Jayshon Jackson in the back corner of the endzone. Great play and coverage from USF's Chris Townsel to wrestle the ball away from Jackson and come down with it.
— Justin Williams (@Williams_Justin) October 3, 2020
When asked about Head Coach Jeff Scott’s expectations, Townsel said, “If Coach [Jeff Scott] thinks you can play, he’s going to put you in. If he sees that you’re well on the practice field, he’s going to put his trust in you on game day.”
Townsel, who was making big plays in the game, has clearly earned the trust of his Head Coach. Moving into the future, the South Florida defense is going to look at Townsel to make big, game-changing, plays.
Next up for the Bulls is the Memphis Tigers as they head to Tennessee on Nov. 7 to continue conference play.
—— #US2F ——
Recruiting Analysis: CB Christopher Townsel (Deerfield Beach HS)
Next up is Christopher Townsel (@christownsel_) who has been committed to the Bulls since September 25th. Earlier in his recruitment, the 6-2, 176 LB cornerback included the Bulls in his top 4 along with Rutgers, Nebraska, and Iowa State via Twitter. Ranked as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, the senior out of Deerfield Beach HS racked up 45 total tackles along with 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended according to MaxPreps.
For his size, does a good job of flipping his hips and getting in and out of breaks. Willing tackler that will step up against the run. Shows the ability to be effective in both man and zone calls. Attacks the ball in the air and will be a mismatch against smaller receivers due to his height + long arms. Great press corner that will give receivers fits. With his size and length, has the versatility to move to free safety as well.
Similar makeup to former Bull Jaymon Thomas who played free safety and cornerback for the Bulls from 2015-2018, Townsel joins the 2-deep youth movement in the secondary that will look to make an impact for the Bulls in the near future.
A few words from Chris himself…