There is a good amount of youth on USF’s roster and it’s going to be crucial for them to play a role in the 2012 football season.
Yes, arguably at the most important position, quarterback, there is a senior in B.J. Daniels. Oh, and arguably he is the one with the biggest target on his back to perform at his best this season after the Bulls went 5-7 last season and missed a bowl game.
But, the young kids need to play a part in this upcoming season as well if the team expects to make a bowl game. And USF has some freshman that can do that.
The most notable freshman who can make an immediate impact (and already is) is punter Matias Ciabatti. Ciabatti, who redshirted in the 2011 season, could take incumbent senior Justin-Brockhaus-Kann’s job as the Bulls starting punter.
Ciabatti, a Hillsborough High graduate, took a preferred walk-on role at USF, choosing over a scholarship at UF. Ciabatti is an academic athlete though, his high school G.P.A was a staggering 6.2.
While at Hillsborough High, he led the county in his senior season with over 39 yards per attempt, including his career long 65 yard bomb against Gaither. He even had 12 kicks inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Not only did Ciabatti punt for Hillsborough High, he was also their starting kicker.
That means Ciabatti will be backing up redshirt senior Maikon Bonani, and maybe push Bonani to perform at a higher level.
Because of Ciabatti’s versatility, he is already making some noise at USF, before he even steps on the field.
The 5’10, 170 is already causing a competition at the punting position this season at USF. The freshman was listed as the No. 1 punter ahead of Brockhaus-Kann on the depth chart in the spring. Redshirt sophomore Chris Veron will also compete for the job.
Of course, just because he is listed as the starter in spring doesn’t mean he will be the starting punter when the season begins, but it does look promising for Ciabatti.
Brockhaus-Kann has been under intense scrutiny since last season, and it was never a surprise whether or not he could lose his starting role as a punter for the Bulls. He averaged a dismal 36.3 yards per kick. In 2010, his performance wasn’t much better as he averaged 37.6 yard per kick.
Ciabatti isn’t the only freshman who can possibly make a significant contribution to the Bulls this season. Watch for freshman defensive back, Chris Bivins Jr. to contribute as well.
Bivins Jr. was ranked as the No. 16 corner back in the nation by ESPN. In his senior season at Gainesville High, he tallied 60 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles that helped Gainesville reach the regional finals last season.
Sidelined with an ACL injury in the spring season, Bivins Jr. will join the team in the fall.
Also worth noting is redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Floyd. The Bulls have been wanting to find a solid backup behind Daniels, and Floyd just might be the answer this season. With streaky performances from junior Bobby Eveld, watch for Floyd to possibly take that role.
Floyd redshirted for the 2011 season, but he has participated in two spring seasons for USF. He has familiarized himself with the Bulls’ offensive system and could be a better fit than Floyd to backup Daniels this season. But, USF could be in the mix for ex-Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien, so Floyd and Eveld could both be pushed into third string positions.