Football report: Bulls not sweating jersey issue

While USF's fan base seemed divided -- based on social media reaction -- on the Bulls' nixed attempt to stitch "THE TEAM" on the back of each jersey, the Bulls' veterans said they warmed up to the idea long ago.

C Austin Reiter and DT Todd Chandler, both fifth-year seniors, said coaches brought up the idea during the spring. It was quashed by an NCAA rule limiting the contents of jerseys to player names, numbers, authorized logos, etc.

Instead, the Bulls will wear nameless jerseys.

"As far as the aspect of having no names on the jerseys, I think it's a great idea because all we want to do right now is win games and we don't want to draw any distractions to any individual," Reiter said.

"Not that there would be, but I think that's a great idea that Coach (Willie Taggart) brought up and that's kind of a shame that we won't be able to have 'The Team' on there."

Taggart said he wasn't disappointed with the plan's failure. "It's the rules," he said. "Our goal this whole offseason was to come together as a team and we're still gonna have the team mindset by not having any names on the back of the jerseys." …

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A TEAM loss: Bulls settle for blank jerseys (UPDATED)

Bulls head coach Willie Taggart proposed this for the backs of USF's football jerseys this season.

University of South Florida

Bulls head coach Willie Taggart proposed this for the backs of USF's football jerseys this season.

After consultation with the NCAA -- and serious social media backlash -- USF has announced it has ditched the idea of replacing last names with THE TEAM on the back of jerseys this season.

With the exception of the numbers, they'll simply remain blank, team spokesman Brian Siegrist said Tuesday.

Responding to a circulating rumor, Coach Willie Taggart confirmed Monday evening the Bulls were planning to go with THE TEAM moniker for all jerseys, a violation of NCAA Rule 1-4-5 governing the design of football jerseys.

Siegrist said at that point, the idea still was being vetted with the NCAA, and nothing had yet been sewn on the Bulls' official game jerseys, though a mock-up had been circulated to local media.

On Tuesday, Siegrist said: "We're just gonna go ahead and leave the jerseys blank this year. That's where it ends up at."

Rule 1-4-5 indicates that other than the player's number, the jersey may only contain the player's name, school name, NCAA logo, sleeve stripes, the American and/or state flag and a logo for the school, conference, mascot, postseason game, memorial or the military. …

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Football report: Bulls to go nameless

The back of USF's jerseys will look like this in 2014.

Photo provided by USF

The back of USF's jerseys will look like this in 2014.

TAMPA -- In an otherwise innocent effort to create unity, Coach Willie Taggart also may have created a firestorm among his fan base with his confirmation Monday the Bulls will not have names on the back of their jerseys this season.

Instead, two words -- THE TEAM -- will be listed above the numbers.

"We're going to represent the Bulls," Taggart said before Monday evening's workout. "That's not to say that (the names) won't come back some time, but our football team is focusing on the team. That's where it needs to be."

The announcement triggered social media hubbub, with Twitter reaction ranging from hearty approval to astonishment to embarrassment. Taggart said the move was necessitated by last year's 2-10 effort.

"That was one of the things we thought as a coaching staff that we could do better, is becoming a team," Taggart said. "If we became a football team that was all about USF and not individuals, good things can happen for us. And we've seen that throughout the offseason and I feel like it'll translate into the season as we get going."

WHITE NO LONGER GREEN: A day after being named starter for the Aug. 30 season opener, sophomore QB Mike White said he matured greatly during his competition with junior Steven Bench, walk-on Evan Wilson and freshman Quinton Flowers.

White was informed during a position meeting Sunday night, and was immediately congratulated by Bench, whom he called "a class act."

"I feel really confident, I feel like I'm seeing the field well," said White, an 18-year-old with no college spring practices when he became the starter for the last five games of 2013. …

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Men's soccer: Bulls picked second in AAC

USF's men's soccer team, seeking its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, is second in the American Athletic Conference's preseason coaches poll released Monday.

The Bulls, 8-4-9 last season, received one the league's eight first-place votes and 48 points overall. Connecticut, which lost to the Bulls (via penalty kicks) in last year's conference tournament final, got the other seven first-place nods and 56 points.

Bulls sophomore midfielder Lindo Mfeka and senior forward Edwin Moalosi, each of whom collected five goals and four assists in 2013, earned spots on the preseason all-conference team.

USF hosts two 7:30 p.m. exhibition matches this week, Tuesday against Saint Leo and Saturday against the University of Tampa. It opens the regular season Aug. 29 at Florida Gulf Coast.

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Mike White wins Bulls QB job

Sophomore Mike White was named the Bulls' starting quarterback Sunday evening.


Sophomore Mike White was named the Bulls' starting quarterback Sunday evening.

TAMPA -- USF sophomore quarterback Mike White, who started the final five games of 2013, will retain his job for now.

The program announced on its official Twitter feed Sunday night that White will start the Bulls' Aug. 30 season opener against Western Carolina at Raymond James Stadium. The youngest QB in camp, White, 19, was informed at a Sunday evening team meeting.

The announcement follows a two-week competition that also featured junior Steven Bench, Sarasota walk-on Evan Wilson and oncoming freshman Quinton Flowers. On Saturday, following the Bulls' second live scrimmage of August, Coach Willie Taggart said a decision was forthcoming.

"We want to go into next week being pretty sure on who we're gonna work with and who we'll continue to bring along with us," he said.

The first commitment of the Taggart era, White was a 186-pound rookie with two college pass attempts when he became USF's fourth starting quarterback of 2013 in an Oct. 31 game at Houston. Statistically he delivered his best performance (26-for-41, 311 yards, two TDs, one INT) in that 35-23 defeat.

In the ensuing four games -- all losses -- he threw eight picks and one TD. Now 25 pounds heavier, White -- and Bench, for that matter -- have been lauded by Taggart for their overall accuracy and command of the offense.

"After the Houston game, I felt the need to kind of make more plays," White said last Monday. "And being a quarterback, you've got to realize that not every play is gonna be a 15-yard completion. There's gonna be some times you need to throw it away and live to see another down.

"And I think I kind of got away from that toward the end of the year. And that's one thing I've been working on (in camp). ... I think that was the biggest thing, I tried to push too much instead of just letting the playmakers make the plays."  

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Fan Fest: Storms arrive, QB announcement doesn't

A conclusion to USF's quarterback derby appears to be forthcoming.

Coach Willie Taggart said final decisions on many positions -- including QB -- could be made as soon as Sunday after he meets with assistants and reviews film from Saturday's second live scrimmage of the preseason.

"We want to go into next week being pretty sure on who we're gonna work with and who we're gonna continue to bring along with us," Taggart said.

From most indications, choosing between incumbent Mike White and junior Steven Bench will be an arduous task. Throughout the first two weeks of practice, the two traded snaps with the first-team offense and Taggart continually praised their competitiveness.

He reiterated that message after Saturday's session, which was closed to the public.

"I think all of our quarterbacks (played well)," Taggart said. "Mike looked good. Steven looked good throwing the ball."

FLOWERS BLOSSOMS: Freshman QB Quinton Flowers drew high praise from Taggart and teammates for his performance in the scrimmage. The four-star recruit from Miami threw three TDs while working with first-, second- and third-stringers, Taggart said.

"He ran the ball real well and he took control of the offense well too," senior WR Andre Davis said.

Taggart said Flowers' progression over the last few days has been fun to watch.

"Early on, there was a lot going in on him and he struggled a little bit," Taggart said. "But he kept his poise, he kept working and he's starting to make some plays for us."

NO DAMPENED SPIRITS: Inclement weather forced USF to move its annual Fan Fest from Corbett Stadium to the Sun Dome, but the day's festivities were hardly a wash.

A video of the event can be seen here. About 1,800 fans attended, mingling for autograph and photo opportunities with athletes and coaches from all fall sports, and shopping for discounted USF jerseys, helmets, shirts and shoes.

"It was fun. It was good to have our fans stick around to be a part of this," Taggart said. "We even had fans that were standing out in the rain to stay here just to meet the coaches and the players. I was taking pictures with guys (who were) soaking wet. It just goes to show their appreciation and their passion for USF."

ODDS AND ENDS: Sophomore DB Lamar Robbins had an interception in the scrimmage. ... What is Taggart's most pleasant surprise from training camp? The freshmen. "It's not often you get freshmen coming in here and being really physical," he said. ... Former QB Matt Grothe was at Fan Fest and signed autographs. ... Taggart said defensive line coach Eric Mathies has lost 90 pounds and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is down about 50 pounds from last season.

AUDIBLE: "We don't talk about redshirting around here. Other than that (red no-contact) jersey he has on in practice, we don't talk about that. ... We just let them compete and let them decide that." -- Taggart on whether he will redshirt Flowers.

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Practice report: On-campus Fan Fest set for Saturday

Rain or shine, USF's annual Fan Fest will be held Saturday from noon to 3 p.m at Corbett Stadium, home to USF's soccer teams.

The free event will feature interactive games for kids, autograph and photo opportunities with players and coaches from all fall sports, and an expansive sale of Bulls merchandise and old-school apparel.

Prior to the event, the Bulls will stage their second live scrimmage -- closed to the public -- of the preseason.

FROM 'BIG RED' TO BIG TIME: For USF sophomore LB Nigel Harris, the fall of 2013 was nothing short of a whirlwind.

The former Hillsborough High standout -- then around 190 pounds -- was thrust into the starting lineup in Week 3 against Florida Atlantic in place of injured veteran Reshard Cliett. After collecting a team-high 12 tackles, he earned six more starts, finishing with 35 total tackles and one forced fumble in 12 games.

Now 30 pounds heavier, Harris (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) has emerged as a centerpiece in the Bulls' new 3-4 defensive scheme. "The year before last year, I was just playing at high school 15 minutes up the road. There wasn't that many eyes watching me," Harris said. "But now ... with more people watching me, I just have to step my game up."

Linebackers coach Raymond Woodie complimented Harris' work ethic and predicted a bright future if he continues. "He has a huge upside," Woodie said. "If he just keeps improving, he has a chance to be an all-conference player in my opinion."

ODDS AND ENDS: Early-afternoon showers forced the Bulls to postpone Friday's workout until the early evening. ... Cliett praised transfer LB LeGrande Harley for his performance (two picks, scoop-and-score) in the team's first scrimmage on Wednesday. "Since I've been at USF, I ain't never seen a guy that fast and that passionate with a football," Cliett said. ... Former Bulls DE Tevin Mims, an undrafted Dolphins free agent, visited his old team Friday. "It's weird that I'm  not in a jersey," he said.

AUDIBLE: "It meant everything, man. Just having a second chance to play ball. This is where I ended up last. This is where I ended up making a name for myself. I was just blessed to have an opportunity to play here." -- Mims, who played at the University of Texas and Navarro (Texas) Junior College before transferring to USF in 2012.

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Full disclosure: My initial AP ballot

For the second consecutive year, the Associated Press has afforded me the privilege of being derided, disparaged and decried by many of you on a weekly basis.

Small price to pay for being among the 60 or so voters in the AP football poll. The preseason top 25 is set to be released Saturday. Not sure how closely it will resemble my ballot listed below but I'm eager to find out.

A few points (or disclaimers) about my top 25: First, I don't subscribe to the philosophy (shared by more than you might think) that the reigning national champ remains No. 1 until someone knocks it off. Every team is different.

But FSU isn't that much different. …

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Practice report: Taggart pleased with scrimmage

A day after the Bulls' first live scrimmage of the preseason, Coach Willie Taggart said he saw a number of things during the closed session that were missing most of last season.

Namely touchdowns, offensive self-assuredness and a heightened sense of urgency.

"We had guys catching touchdowns, we had guys getting interceptions, guys picking up fumbled snaps for touchdowns. Some big hits on both sides of the ball from a lot of guys," said Taggart, who holds another closed scrimmage Saturday morning, prior to the Bulls' annual Fan Fest.

Taggart singled out senior WR Andre Davis, sophomore transfer WR Rodney Adams, sophomore RB Darius Tice (who had a 10-yard TD run) and junior transfer LB LeGrande Harley. Compressing a year's worth of stats into one situational scrimmage, Harley had two interceptions including a pick-six, and picked up a fumble for a scoop-and-score

"It's just different guys making plays for us at different times," Taggart said. "You just see when it goes smooth and guys do what they're supposed to, they understand what they're doing now. And now they're scoring touchdowns and getting excited about it and want to do it a lot more often now."

Taggart said Saturday's scrimmage will more closely resemble a real game. Don't be shocked if he names a starting quarterback afterward.

BULLS LAND OL: Several recruiting services reported late Thursday afternoon the Bulls have received a non-binding "commitment" from Island Coast three-star DL Marlon Gonzalez. Ranked the state's 87th-best prospect by 247Sports, Gonzalez (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) already has de-committed once, from FSU.

He becomes the second three-star prospect to give a non-binding verbal pledge to USF in as many days. Miami Northwestern S Khalid McGee reportedly did the same Tuesday night.

LESS IS MORE: The sleeker, slimmed-down version of junior TE Sean Price, first spotted in the spring, continues to elicit raves in August.

Currently 243 pounds (17 less than what he topped out at last fall), Price enjoyed a breakthrough March after coming on toward the end of 2013 (11 catches in his last three games). He said he has kept the weight off primarily by eating healthier. His favorite healthy indulgence: a baked potato with a dab of sour cream or Ranch dressing.

"Definitely there were times when I was on the field (last year) when I felt like I couldn't get out of my break, couldn't get out of my stance," said Price, an Under Armour All-American with 22 career TD catches at North Marion High. "I felt like I was trying too hard to come out. I wasn't quick and explosive like I wanted to be."

Through 11 days of preseason camp, Taggart said Price has shown better movement, has become a mentor to the younger tight ends and, perhaps most importantly, has made a succession of clutch catches on third down.

"He's starting to figure it out, and watching him in the spring, he looked so much faster," Taggart said. "He lost weight ...and his routes were sharper. And now it's like he's doing it without thinking. And again, that's what I know the quarterbacks are excited about. He's gonna be where he needs to be and he's going to make a play for you."

ODDS AND ENDS: Speaking of tight ends, senior Mike McFarland continues to be slowed by a huge brace on his left knee. When asked if he'll be ready for the Aug. 30 season opener, Taggart said, "Mike better be ready for the first game. We heal differently around here." ... Taggart said after a slow start, junior college transfer TE Marlon Pope has come on lately, and not a moment too soon for a team that needs all the pass blockers it can muster: "I'm mostly a blocking tight end," said Pope, who played at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. "But I can catch a few balls."

AUDIBLE: "They call him 'Freakshow' for a reason. I mean, he's making catches out here that are just different. We're loving it; he's going up and making some big-time catches for us." -- Taggart on Davis' play this preseason

AUDIBLE, PART II: "A successful day is for...everybody that loves the Bulls to come out and be a part of our Fan Fest and get to know our players, get to know our coaches, get to know me. I think a successful day is if I can get around to meet everybody that comes out. That would be a great day for us." -- Taggart, who will be available (with his team) for pictures and autographs Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Corbett Stadium

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Women's hoops: Non-conference slate released

USF women's coach Jose Fernandez must prepare his team for a series of formidable non-conference foes in November and December.


USF women's coach Jose Fernandez must prepare his team for a series of formidable non-conference foes in November and December.

If it hopes to again become an NCAA Tournament team, USF's women will have to play like one right out of the gate this fall.

A rugged early slate, a partial reason for their banishment to the Women's NIT last season, highlights the Bulls' 2014-15 schedule. Many of the matchups were previously reported, but the school confirmed the entire non-conference schedule a couple of weeks ago. …

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Practice report: Harley shines in scrimmage

Based on information provided by USF, transfer LB LeGrande Harley had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the Bulls' inaugural live scrimmage of the 2014 preseason Wednesday at the Morsani Practice Complex.

The scrimmage was closed to the public, but the school provided a smattering of updates on its official football Twitter feed. Harley, who played the last two seasons at Georgia Military College, is among a gluttony of linebackers vying for playing time in the Bulls' new 3-4 scheme.

Other highlights included an 80-yard scoring drive engineered by sophomore QB Mike White and capped by sophomore RB Darius Tice's 10-yard TD run on a cutback. Freshman WR Tyre McCants made a diving TD catch in the corner of the end zone on a pass thrown by classmate Quinton Flowers.

The Bulls are expected to scrimmage again -- in a closed setting -- Saturday.

10-4 ON THE 3-4: Based on the initial eye test and various player sound bites, the Bulls have transitioned solidly to a 3-4 defensive look, but coordinator Chuck Bresnahan noted a more definite conclusion would be drawn after the first two live scrimmages.

The switch from a four-man front maximizes the Bulls' gluttony of outside linebackers and speed rushers while employing the athleticism of their down linemen. Senior Elkino Watson, who began his career as a three-technique, is capable of lining up anywhere along the front. 

"What I like most about the 3-4 is how every other play we're stunting around and moving, so nobody's really standing still," Watson said. "It makes it hard for linemen to block you when you're moving across their face a lot."

ODDS AND ENDS: No update on the condition of TE Mike McFarland (knee), who continued to wear a brace and stretch with the other injured players at the start of Wednesday's practice. ... LT Darrell Williams, sidelined by some unspecified soreness last week, appears fine now. ... Bresnahan continued praising the transition of former Northeast High star Auggie Sanchez from fullback (last fall) to inside linebacker. "He's really going about it as a professional and it shows on the field," Bresnahan said. ... Bresnahan also lauded the transition of former WR Chris Dunkley to cornerback. "He has a ton of confidence but he backs it up with his play," the coach said.

AUDIBLE: "Devin is a chip off the old man's block...and Devin's a smart football player. He grew up in a football family and some of the things he does right now at the safety and nickel positions, just intelligence-wise, is way ahead of the game. So we're trying to take advantage of his knowledge and his instincts." -- Bresnahan on freshman S (and East Lake High alum) Devin Abraham, son of former Buccaneers CB Donnie Abraham

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Football practice report: RB derby continues

While USF's quarterback competition has drawn plenty of attention, the battle for running back is heating up as well.

Though questions remain, running backs coach Telly Lockette is confident the derby -- which includes sophomore Darius Tice, redshirt freshman Sta'fon McCray and four-star freshmen D'Ernest Johnson and Marlon Mack -- will bring forth an answer.

If no one stands out, Lockette said he's not afraid of going with a committee approach to start the season.

"We don't have a kid in our backfield that carried the ball more than 5 percent last year," said Lockette, though Tice had 35 of the Bulls' 359 carries (9.7 percent) in 2013.

"My whole room right now is young guys. ... They really haven't played. ... We'll just try to get some production out of those guys and go from there."

Tice, who ran for 141 yards in eight games last fall, acknowledged the competition is still a toss-up. With Michael Pierre (neck/spinal cord injury) being forced to give up the game in the offseason, Tice is the Bulls' lone tailback with collegiate experience.

"I feel like we'll emerge throughout the games and throughout the season," Tice said. "You're going to separate yourself based off the carries and how well you're doing blocking. I feel like I can emerge. I feel like a couple other guys can emerge as well."

ODDS AND ENDS: Senior TE Mike McFarland (left knee) dressed in full pads with a protective brace, but was limited in practice for the second consecutive day. ... QB Steven Bench took reps with starting C Austin Reiter in early drills, which were open to the media. ... Former Bulls WR Ruben Gonzalez's transfer to Jacksonville State, as reported by the Times earlier this month, apparently is official. Gonzalez is listed on the Gamecocks' roster.

AUDIBLE: "We came a long way from last year as far as blocking and picking up blitzes. This year, even the freshmen that just came in, everybody's picking it up. ... We are a whole lot farther from last year to where we are now." - McCray when asked if the running backs have progressed from a season ago.

AUDIBLE, PART II: "I feel good, I feel I can move with my weight and I've been really comfortable. ... I feel a little bigger, I feel I've got a little more cushion in me. But I feel good. Like I said, I'm mobile; I think that's the biggest thing." -- QB Mike White, who weighed in at 213 pounds Monday. White was listed at 186 as a freshman …

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Football practice report: Shoulder surgery for Holman

TAMPA -- Freshman LB Nick Holman has become the first serious casualty of USF's preseason camp, suffering a torn labrum Saturday that will require surgery.

Coach Willie Taggart said Holman, injured while making a tackle during live work Saturday afternoon, "possibly" could miss the season but stopped short of putting him on the shelf for 2014.

A three-star prospect from Madison, Ala., Holman (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) had 104 tackles and three sacks as a senior at Bob Jones High, and played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

"We heal differently around here," Taggart said before Monday afternoon's closed practice. "Some of our guys get back quicker than the doctors tell them they do sometimes, so you never know with our guys."

Elsewhere, WR Rodney Adams, recently diagnosed with a flat right foot, returned to practice Monday with some arch supports and no protective boot. TE Mike McFarland wore a protective brace on his left knee and was limited in Monday's shorts-and-helmets workout, but the injury isn't believed to be serious.

QB DECISION SOON? Taggart, who said before camp he hoped to settle on a starting quarterback after the preseason's first two weeks, suggested Monday he's sticking to that timetable. Taggart offered no definitive day on when he'll choose from sophomore Mike White and junior Steven Bench, but said it will be "sooner rather than later."

He also noted the camp performance of walk-on Evan Wilson, a redshirt freshman from Sarasota's Out-of-Door Academy. Wilson appears a lock to be the No. 3 quarterback if -- a big if -- the Bulls decide to redshirt freshman Quinton Flowers.

"All (Wilson) does is make plays constantly, play after play," Taggart said. "I think today we'll probably give him a couple of reps with the (first team)."

ODDS AND ENDS: A reminder that the annual Bulls Fan Fest, previously held at Raymond James Stadium, will be staged Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Corbett Stadium (USF's soccer complex). The event, featuring autograph opportunities with all of the Bulls' fall sports teams as well as interactive games, is free and open to the public. ... Here's your quirky factoid of the day -- White, the starter for the final five games of 2013, remains the Bulls' youngest quarterback. White turns 20 in March, roughly three months after Flowers hits the big 2-0.

AUDIBLE: "The sky's the limit for him. He can run obviously, we know that; we saw him in high school. ... But he's got a cannon on him too. I think that's one thing people don't realize; he can spin it. He's making freshman mistakes that obviously I made (last season), but I can kind of help him through that and guide him. He's made some real big-time throws in practice. He's showing us what we have to look forward to and it's gonna be exciting." -- White on Flowers

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Day 6 report: No 'I' in Bulls

Sophomore RB Darius Tice and the rest of the Bulls completed their second day of full-padded work Saturday.


Sophomore RB Darius Tice and the rest of the Bulls completed their second day of full-padded work Saturday.

TAMPA -- Coach Willie Taggart has a message to any player that makes a big play or scores a touchdown this season: Celebrate with your teammates, not as an individual.

During an 11-on-11 period Saturday, RB Darius Tice broke a tackle and danced into the end zone. Taggart noticed the antic, blew his whistle and penalized the sophomore for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"When we do it in practice, I'm going to make it a big deal, because the officials are going to make a big deal about it this season," Taggart said. "They're putting a big emphasis on celebrating and we can't do that."

First-year receivers coach Ron Dugans said he also has emphasized a team-first mentality to his group. "It's not about you, it's about the team," he said.

MORE PRAISE FOR NEWBIES: The play of freshmen has impressed Taggart throughout the first week of practice, and the Bulls' second day of full pads was no different.

Most notably, DB Tajee Fullwood (Tampa Bay Tech) intercepted a pass from classmate Quinton Flowers in a 7-on-7 period and returned it 70 yards for a TD.

"It was good to see a lot of those guys make some plays," Taggart said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Taggart said senior TE Mike McFarland injured his knee earlier in the week and is rehabbing. Freshman LB Nick Holman left the field with his left arm in a sling at the end of practice. Taggart said his shoulder was "banged up" in the scrimmage and did not have further update.

Additionally, WR Rodney Adams (left foot) dressed for practice wearing a walking boot, but did not participate in any on-field drills. He is listed as day-to-day.

ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart said he "loved" the fan turnout during the first week of practices, which were open to the public. On Saturday, the large group of spectators in attendance for the final public session were treated to free watermelon ... Quarterbacks Mike White and Steven Bench took turns with the first-and second-team offense in drills. ... Lightning forced a 30-minute delay at the beginning of practice, but Taggart said the Bulls were still able to get everything in. ... The Bulls start two-a-days Sunday.

AUDIBLE: "That's not going to happen today, that's not going to happen tomorrow. It's not even going to happen on Monday, not even Tuesday." -- Taggart on when he would decided on a starting quarterback.

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Day 5 report: Freshman RBs step up

TAMPA -- While the Bulls engaged in no live hitting during their first full-padded workout Friday afternoon, Coach Willie Taggart saw enough contact from his freshman tailbacks to be encouraged.

Four-star recruits Marlon Mack and D'Ernest Johnson are almost certain to log a degree of duty this fall after attrition cost USF three of the top four rushers from 2013. On Friday, both took handoffs -- and took on rushers -- during 11-on-11 periods.

"They were very impressive today, and not just running the football but pass blocking," Taggart said.

"Usually you get a freshman in here, he doesn't want any of that action, but we tell our guys you'll find it hard to play running back in our system if you can't pass block. And those guys are pretty physical. I mean, I was really excited to see those guys come in and get physical with our defense and pick up protection."

LANARIS DISMISSED: A day after his arrest on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge in northwest Tampa, Bulls graduate-assistant Michael Lanaris was dismissed from the program, the school announced. Lanaris was arrested Thursday at 2:40 a.m. at a Gunn Highway shopping plaza, less than six hours before the Bulls staged their first full-squad workout of the preseason.

ADAMS SIDELINED: WR Rodney Adams, whose first four days of practice were arguably as solid as any receiver in camp, suited up Friday but wore a protective boot on his right foot and didn't engage in contact.

"He's got a funny little deal," Taggart said. "Rodney came out and had a heck of a practice yesterday and went to class, and came back and said his foot started hurting. For some reason you touch it and it hurts. We got him with the doctors and it didn't show any broken bones or anything, so we're just gonna monitor him."

FLASHES OF THE FUTURE? Freshman QB Quinton Flowers provided one of the highlights of Friday's workout when he tucked the ball on an apparent zone-read play and darted and diced his way for a TD of roughly 30 yards.

The next play, his pass to the right sideline -- intended for classmate Stanley Clerveaux -- was picked by Jalen Spencer.

"He's coming along. Again, this offense is not easy to learn," Taggart said.

"We tell Quinton to just play football. Don't over-think things, don't try to do like those (older) guys, go do what you do. And I think that's what you saw on that run; he didn't think, he just reacted. And on the pick, I think he telegraphed that. He was locked into throwing to one guy."

PETTUS PROGRESSING: Though sidelined the last couple of days with a right quad contusion, former East Bay High standout Kieran Pettus appears a solid candidate for a spot in the edge-rushing rotation and/or special teams.

A third-year sophomore walk-on, Pettus slid from defensive end to outside linebacker after transforming his body -- from 265 to 225 pounds -- in the offseason.

"I guess my work ethic picked up," said Pettus, who didn't appear in a game last season. "After seeing some of the guys and how hard they worked, like Ryne Giddins and DeDe Lattimore, I followed after them guys a little bit and my work ethic picked up. And once my work ethic picked up, my weight just started falling. I got stronger, faster and I felt better at the weight."

AUDIBLE: "Our kicker and our punter, I'll put them up against anybody in the country." -- Taggart on PK Marvin Kloss (a 2013 Groza Award finalist) and P Mattias Ciabatti

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