USF Bulls QB Quinton Flowers, a not-so dark horse Heisman candidate

Photo via The Associated Press

College football season is approaching fast and many analysts are starting to put their minds towards projecting potential Heisman Trophy winners.

Looking over the published lists so far, there are several recurrent names, such as Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, J.T. Barrett, and Deondre Francois.

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Flowers led the Bulls to their first 10+ win season in program history. Photo via Andy Jones/TBO Staff

One name that has largely flown under the radar, is USF quarterback Quinton Flowers. If he is mentioned, it is as a longshot candidate. Last year, Flowers led the Bulls to an 11-2 season and posted outstanding stats.

The Bulls only posted losses to the highly ranked Florida State Seminoles and in-conference opponent Temple. In the Birmingham Bowl, they were able to topple the South Carolina Gamecocks in overtime.

Flowers is entering his senior year at USF after passing for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns, which alone is impressive—but he also chalked up 1,530 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He completed 62.5% of his passes and only threw seven interceptions. With stats like these, Flowers should be getting more national attention—so what’s holding him back?

The answer, quite simply, is his team. The Bulls are often overlooked by being in the AAC. Just last year USF started gaining more attention and all signs point to the USF Bulls having a breakout season. The Bulls are a shoe-in for a top-25 ranking and some projections indicated that they might soon crack the top 10.

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New head coach Charlie Strong has raised hopes of a record season in Tampa. Photo via USF Athletics

With a plethora of returning players and a postseason ranking of No. 19, incoming head coach Charlie Strong has a whole range of talented players at his disposal.

The Bulls do not play FSU this time around, which means that they have a good chance of having an undefeated season. Their only challenges seem to be against Houston, Temple, and perhaps Tulsa.

An undefeated season could mean a New Years Six bowl game, as well as ending the season ranked in the top 10.

Even after such a successful season, Flowers is not generating much press. He barely made it into the Sporting News “Top 40 College Football Players for 2017” at No. 39, and he is listed at No. 53 on the Sports Illustrated “College football’s top 100 players of 2017” list. Both of these rankings do a disservice to Flowers’ prowess on the field.

Quinton Flowers will surprise college football by performing even better than last year and putting up Heisman-level numbers. He will lead his team to either a 12-1 or undefeated season which will make it impossible for anyone to ignore the Bulls.

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Charlie Strong needs to gain control of USF Bulls

Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Taking over a new football program is always difficult. University of South Florida coach Charlie Strong could easily attest.

There have been two instances of violent felonies caused by USF football players in the last few months.

The first incident came when defensive back Hassan Childs was dismissed from the school after a road-rage incident in late March. He was shot after he pointed a gun at a car.

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DB Hassan Childs was shot while pointing a gun at a car driving in front of him. Photo via Nick Lisi/AP

Childs was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one charge of marijuana possession.

The latest scandal involved defensive end LaDarrius Jackson, who has two rape charges pending against him.

Last week, Jackson was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in her dormitory. He was suspended from team activities pending an investigation.

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Jackson’s mug shot after his second rape case of the month. Photo via Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office/AP

On May 10th, Jackson was arrested on the same charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment for a different incident that allegedly took place on March 27.

Judge Margaret Taylor, who is presiding over Jackson’s case, removed herself from the case after making comments to Strong about his management of the team.

“Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies,” Judge Taylor told the court. “This court, and I’m sure I’m not alone, questions whether you have control over your players… It’s fairly clear you do not have control of them off the field, and I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.”

Although Strong defended himself by praising the majority of the USF program, it is clear that there is a problem with how the team is being managed.

Judge Taylor, a USF graduate, said that she “was never ashamed of being an alum until now.”

While USF should have a good football team next season, these crimes cast a shadow on Strong’s program and will be a tough distraction to shake.

Although he did not sign either of the players, he became responsible for them the second he walked onto campus.

If he cannot control his players, Strong will not be the head coach for very long.