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Five players to watch for South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl vs. South Carolina

Spoiler alert: Quinton Flowers made the list. But here’s who else to keep an eye on.

Central Florida v South Florida Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images
  1. Quinton Flowers. That Watson kid in the Upstate is pretty good, but if Flowers was putting up the numbers he put up this year (1,425 yards and fifteen TDs on the ground; 2,546 yards and 22 TDs through the air) at a Power Five school, he’d be a Heisman candidate. In fact, now former coach Willie Taggart was a little puzzled why his star junior wasn’t getting more consideration for the award. We hear you, Willie. Could Flowers make the decision to pursue pro ball after Thursday’s game? Time will tell, but I wouldn’t blame him for doing so.
  2. Marlon Mack. The kid can run it: 1137 yards on 161 carries (7.1 yards a pop) and fifteen touchdowns. As of this writing, the junior from Sarasota hasn’t declared for the NFL Draft, but he’s being projected as a third or fourth round pick if he does decide to forgo his final year at USF.
  3. Rodney Adams. I could highlight the fact that Adams is Flowers’ favorite target (60 catches, 755 yards and five TDs - one score shy of tying a school record), but he’s one of the more electrifying return men in the country, averaging 24.3 yards with a long of 52. This could potentially be a long day for the kick coverage team if they don’t keep Adams bottled up.
  4. Auggie Sanchez. The MIKE LB has six sacks and 8.5 TFLs, so the offensive line will need to keep a close eye on him throughout the afternoon. He also leads the team with 111 tackles, meaning that he’ll need six to move into second for most tackles in a season by a Bulls player. The redshirt junior isn’t showing up on many draft boards (due in part to USF’s record in recent years) and could stick around, but a repeat performance in 2017 will move him up into mid-round territory.
  5. Nigel Harris. The senior from Tampa and Sanchez’ partner behind the line leads the team with a serviceable 9.5 TFLs this year and is second on the team with 74 tackles. Although he’s not showing up on many boards himself, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get a few free agency looks in the spring for a team in need.

Honorable Mention
Kofi Amichia. He has great strength and awareness, giving him the ability to neutralize his man and give Flowers and Mack the opportunity to make plays at the level they are right now.

Deatrick Nichols. Four picks and seven pass deflections. He’ll be assigned to Bryan Edwards or Deebo Samuel on the outside.

D’Ernest Johnson. A punt return to his name this year. Coverage team will have a challenge ahead of them on Thursday having to deal with him and Adams.