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Keep your enemies close: USF Bulls

The first in our series analyzing the best players on each team the Badgers play this fall.

South Florida v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Who are the best players on the team Wisconsin is playing in any given week? We aim to find out and give you mini scouting reports on them so you can sound smart talking to your friends by saying “well, actually...” and then whatever smart thing we tell you. You’re welcome in advance for being the go-to friend in your group for Central Michigan football knowledge.

The USF Bulls were a weird team last year. They started off the season 7-0 and were ranked No. 21. Then they lost their last six games and changed a bunch of people on their coaching staff.

Which team will the Badgers see in the season opener? Well, it’s hard to say. But we are pretty sure we know what we’ll get from star running back Jordan Cronkrite and star defensive end Greg Reaves.

Best Offensive Player: RB Jordan Cronkrite, senior, No. 2

The former 247Sports Composite 4-star tailback started his career with the Florida Gators but transferred to USF after the 2016 season. He sat out 2017, but ended the 2018 season as the 37th leading rusher in the country. He ran for 1,121 yards (6.1 ypc) and scored nine times for the Bulls, leading the team in both categories. At the end of the year he was named a third-team All-AAC performer by Phil Steele.

Steele has him as a preseason first-team player heading into 2019 and Athlon Sports slots him in on their second team. He and quarterback Blake Barnett could form a pretty lethal combo in the backfield to help challenge rival UCF for the AAC East title this year. Cronkrite will look to build off of his successful junior campaign by carrying a heavier workload this season because backup Johnny Ford was moved to slot receiver in the spring, according to former SB Nation employee Bill C.

Cronkrite set USF and AAC records by rushing for 302 yards (13.1 ypc) against UMass and scored two touchdowns of over 75 yards, and three total, versus the hapless Minutemen defense.

Best Player Defense: DE Greg Reaves, senior, No. 4

Following a season ending injury to their MLB, Reaves moved from DE (where he started the first six games of the season) and assumed the MLB position for the final seven games of the year. That is impressive versatility and will serve him well moving into the 2019 season. The Bradenton, Florida native has made the AAC’s all-academic team three times in his career and he earned a scholarship in 2017 after originally joining the team as a walk-on.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 20 UConn at USF Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Reaves was second on the team with 89 tackles and had seven tackles for loss and a fumble recovery on the year. In USF’s bowl game against Marshall, Reaves was all over the field and recorded a career-high 14 stops. Returning to his natural position for 2019 should pay major dividends for the Bulls d-line. Both Athlon and Phil Steele have him pegged as a second-team all-conference player this year.