Greg Reaves was playing out of position, but you wouldn’t have known it judging by his performance in the Gasparilla Bowl.
The former three-sport standout at Manatee High was all over the field for the University of South Florida, setting a program postseason record with a career-high 14 tackles in a 38-20 loss to Marshall on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
A natural defensive end shifted to linebacker midway through the season because of injuries, the 6-foot-2, 248-pound Reaves had 13 solo stops as he matched the Gasparilla Bowl mark for tackles in a game.
A former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship before the start of the 2017 season, Reaves finished the season with 89 tackles, second only to linebacker Khalid McGee’s 111.
Reaves’ defensive heroics aside, the Bulls ended the season with a whimper, losing for the sixth straight time after bolting to a 7-0 start. Worse, USF became the first team in major college history to finish 7-6 after starting 7-0, according to the Associated Press.
Marshall (9-4) gouged USF for 503 yards, including 282 on the ground. It marked the ninth time in 13 games the season that USF’s opponent topped 200 rushing yards.
“We know this, there’s work that needs to be done in the program, and we’ve got to go get it done,” Bulls coach Charlie Strong told reporters after the game.
Still without a conference title in program history, USF closed the season with six straight double-digits losses, falling to Houston, Tulane, Cincinnati, Temple, UCF and Marshall by an average margin of 19.2 points.
The Bulls’ last win came exactly two months before the bowl game, a 38-30 victory over a UConn team that finished 1-11.