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October 26, 2007Making his first start against Connecticut as a replacement for USF's top receiver doesn't worry true freshman Dontavia Bogan.
The 6-foot-1, 185 pounder knows he has some big shoes to fill replacing Taurus Johnson, who has been the Bulls most reliable receiver and big play guy.
Bogan got his most extended playing time last week against Rutgers when Johnson had to leave the game in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. He didn't let the Rutgers Stadium record crowd of 44,000 plus to get him. In fact, he says he enjoyed the atmosphere.
"When Taurus got hurt, I knew it was my turn to step my game up and I was able to do it," Bogan says. "I feel good about moving into the starting lineup. I just prepare myself day by day to get ready. I loved playing in front of that crowd at Rutgers and the whole atmosphere. It was fun."
The Thomasville, Ga., native had his most productive day against Rutgers, catching three passes for 52 yards, with a long of 26. He only caught two passes for four yards coming into the game.
Bogan didn't surprise anyone who has watched the 19-year-old since he arrived on campus. From almost the first day of workouts, he has shown an uncanny ability to get open and catch the ball.
"The Rutgers game taught me a lot about college football. The speed is so much quicker than anything I had seen in high school. Everyone on this level is fast," Bogan said.
Bogan was a touted receiver and free safety at Central County High, But his passion is for the offensive side of the ball, and when USF was only one of two I-A schools to offer him an opportunity to play receiver, he jumped at the chance. He had some contacts here and liked the area.
Before the season started, Bogan had no idea whether he was going to redshirt or play. He was as shocked as anyone when he found out he would be suiting up.
"I was in the weight room and coach (Jim) Leavitt came in and told all the redshirts he wanted them to lift weights that day instead of going to workouts. He started picking out the guys to stay and he never picked me. That's how I found out," Bogan said.
He showed his versatility in high school. During his senior year, he played quarterback, receiver and defensive back. Despite playing in an option offense, he caught 28 passes for 451 yards and three TDs. Helping out at quarterback, he averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per carry as he rushed for 295 yards and five TDS on only 17 carries.
The Bulls have spread the ball around to the receiving corps, though Johnson was clearly the playmaker and guy who seemed to be at this best in clutch situations. Still, the Bulls have five receivers with 12 or more catches and four with two or more TD receptions.
Amarri Jackson is second with 21 receptions (247 yards) and Jessie Hester has 16 catches (206 yards) and a team-leading three TD catches.
"I think Dontavia can do a good job. He is a young talent who can step up since TJ is out," Hester says. "We have a lot of good receivers. As a receiving corps, since one of our brothers is down, we got to pick it up and try to keep things going and stay on the same beat."
Hester says he and Bogan and the rest of the receivers will have to be at their best Saturday because Connecticut plays good fundamental defense and doesn't make mistakes.
"They are never out of place, don't have any mixup on coverages and are always where they are supposed to be so I think that is going to be a big challenge for our wide receivers," Hester says.
Hester doesn't like to look back, but he wants to make sure he doesn't repeat what happened in the Rutgers game when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after catching a touchdown pass. He put his finger to his lips, telling the crowd to be quiet and was penalized.
"I knew I was going to be on the doghouse for the rest of the game and apologized to coach Leavitt for the bone headed play I made," Hester says. "It could've really costs us, but they didn't score on that drive. I won't do it again, but I really didn't think they would call a penalty."