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January 22, 2013

Part 1 - the returning DL strengths

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Defensive line play from USF has always been a strength. This year's recruiting class is very deep at defensive line and getting deeper. Controlling the line of scrimmage is a must for the Bulls defense, and new defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan as well as defensive line coach Eric Mathies have a nucleus to built upon.

The Bulls return some key elements of the defensive line and if they can stay healthy, it will be a strength of the defense. Let's take a look at what the Bulls' options are at defensive line for 2013.

This is the first of a two-part series examining the Bulls up front on the defensive side. This afternoon, we'll look at the committed prospects and the targets.

To find out more information on each player, just click on the player's name for a complete Rivals.com profile.

Julius Forte
6-foot-2 | 260 | R-Jr. | Boca Ciega (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
The Buzz:The 2012 season was a disappointment for Forte. The St. Petersburg native entered the year on the two-deep with high expectations and an opportunity to play his way into the starting lineups. Just like the 2012 year for USF, Forte's season fell flat. The Boca Ciega High School product finished the year with 14 total tackles, 1.5 for a loss, half a sack, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. The 2013 season will be another with high expectations for Forte, especially since he will be relied upon to fill some of the void left by fifth-year senior Cory Grissom.

Ryne Giddins

6-foot-3 | 266| RJr.| Armwood (Seffner, Fla.)
The Buzz:2012 was not quite like 2011 for Ryne Giddins statistically. Like Forte, Giddins entered 2012 with high expectations and a starting defensive end on the depth chart. Giddins scuffled in 2012, eventually saw his playing time reduced and fell out of the starting lineup for four of the final five games. After registering 44 total tackles, 11 for loss and five and a half sacks in 2011, Giddins struggled to just 25 tackles, four for a loss and three and half sacks in 2012. The Armwood High School product will be another player expected to fill the void of Cory Grissom and will see expectations rise once again. If he can have an effective year, and the Bulls can once again get to opposing quarterbacks, it will go a long way to helping USF reshape a defense that struggled greatly last year.

James Hamilton

6-foot-2 | 324 | Fr.| Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
The Buzz:Hamilton saw a great deal of playing time in his first year with the Bulls. The Olympia High School product missed the opening game of 2012, but played in the final 11 contests. Hamilton registered 12 total tackles, one for a loss and recovered a fumble in his first season with USF. Going into next year, Hamilton should have an opportunity for more playing time and perhaps a starting role in new defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan's defense.

Eric Lee

6-foot-3 | 241 | Fr.| Daphne (Daphne, Ala.)
The Buzz:Lee saw his playing time increase as the Bulls got deeper and deeper into 2012. The Alabama native saw minimal action in the first three games of the season, but worked his way into the starting lineup for the final five games of the year. In 2012, Lee registered 17 total tackles, one and a half for a loss and half a sack. Going into his sophomore year, Lee could be a favorite to work his way into Cory Grissom's vacated starting role.

Tevin Mims

6-foot-3 | 245 | Jr.| Navarro CC (Round Rock, Texas)
The Buzz: Mims was a pleasant surprise for the Bulls in 2012. The junior college transfer was an immediate contributor, starting the first 11 games of the season before missing the season finale against Pittsburgh due to injury. Mims was the second leading tackler on the defensive line in 2012, registering 35 total tackles, three and a half for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Expect for Mims to lineup as a starter for the Bulls at defensive end in 2013. The Texas native has the tools to put up big sack numbers, especially if the Bulls' defense can do a better job of putting opponents in obvious passing situations.

Elkino Watson

6-foot-2 | 293 | So.| Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.)
The Buzz: Watson didn't meet his tackle numbers from his freshman year in 2012. The Miami native, who registered 33 tackles in 2011, had 22 in 2012. The Booker T. Washington High School product did show a nose for getting into the backfield, leading the Bulls with seven tackles for loss and two sacks. Watson also proved to be in the right place at the right time, pulling in one of the two interceptions the Bulls had all season in the Connecticut game. Expectations will be high for Watson in his junior year in 2013. Not only do the Bulls think that he can be one of the best defensive players, many think that Watson could play at the NFL level one day, if he can continue to improve.

Todd Chandler

6-foot-0 | 312 | R-so. | Northwestern (Miami, Fla.)
The Buzz: Chandler, like Mims, was a pleasant surprise for the Bulls in 2012. Working his way into the two-deep, Chandler registered 19 total tackles, five for a loss and two sacks in 12 games. The Miami native could work his way into the starting lineup for 2013, but a reserve role is probably where he will end up.

Luke Sager

6-foot-3 | 297 | R-jr. | Niceville (Niceville, Fla.)
The Buzz: Sager was one of the cornerstones of the defensive line in 2012. The redshirt junior played and started in all twelve games last season, registering 26 total tackles, three tackles for loss and broke up two passes. Sager will supply a nice veteran presence on the defensive line for the Bulls in 2013. The Niceville native will be expected to be in his usual starting spot on the defensive line for the 2013 year.
Aaron Lynch

6-foot-6 | 262 | So. | Island Coast *(Notre Dame) (Cape Coral, Fla.)
The Buzz: Lynch sat out last year after a freshman season at Notre Dame. The Cape Coral, Fla. native recorded 33 tackles, including 5.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss while playing his freshman season for the Irish. He sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. He could make an immediate impact on the starting front. Lynch was a four-star DE out of high school and rated the third-best defensive end in the country.

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