College: USF forward Dwyer in Hermann Trophy contention

South Florida forward Dom Dwyer took an unconventional road to Division I soccer but the Englishman’s fine form this season now has him in the conversation to be crowned the nation’s best player.

Dwyer originally came to the US to play at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, in 2009 thanks to some connections he had in England. After a standout second season, scoring 37 goals, he transferred to USF.

Success continued to follow him to Tampa, and the junior’s 16 goals have helped push the Bulls into the top 5 in most nationwide rankings, and even into the national title picture. The adjustment to a new level has been a learning experience – albeit a successful one – for the London native.

“I feel like over the last two, three months I’ve learned so much and developed a lot as a player,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “You can do things in junior college that you can’t do here. You’re playing with better players, it’s a high level so it’s really enjoyable. If you’re playing with better players you’re going to get better yourself.”

Leading the line for South Florida, Dwyer is a forward with good speed and decent size (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) who just can't stop scoring.

Those predatory instincts, and his ability to stretch defenses at the back with his pace, has allowed both goals and accolades to pile up. Three times in the past four weeks he’s received the Big East Offensive Player of the Week award. By the season’s end, Dwyer could be in the conversation for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the nation’s top player.

And while a lot of the reason for South Florida’s success falls on his ability to put the ball in the back of the net, he credits a tight group in the locker room.

“There’s a lot of team togetherness,” he said. “There’s no problems in the [group], everyone gets along, we work for each other, we train hard.”

The close-knit group has led the Bulls to compile a record of 12-2-3 overall, including an undefeated mark of 7-0-2 in the Big East. With the unblemished record, USF have earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament that starts Thursday night on campuses across the country.

With Red Bull Arena hosting the semifinals and final next weekend, the Bulls aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves.

“We just want to take it one game at a time,” Dwyer said. “Obviously the overall goal is to keep winning games. We have a game Sunday against either Villanova or Notre Dame, so we’re just focusing on that. We want to win there and then once we win that, get to the Big East final and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

Ultimately, Dwyer hopes that his roundabout path one day leads to being a professional soccer player – whether that’s here in the US or back in England.

“It all depends. Of course I’d love to play professionally,” he said. “I have contacts in England, people I’ve spoke to and people I know. I’m sure there will be opportunities there, but if a better opportunity comes off here, MLS-wise or something like that, I’d have something to think about. I think keeping all your options open are beneficial for you.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.