Bulls WRs relish chance to work with draft's top QBs
The stars of ESPN's "Gruden QB Camp," which airs at 7 p.m. Thursday night, are former Bucs coach Jon Gruden and five of the NFL Draft's top quarterbacks, but if you look closely, you'll see cameos by USF receivers, who worked out with the passers on the Bulls' new practice fields.
"The experience was great," said junior Evan Landi, part of a group of receivers that also included A.J. Love, Terrence Mitchell, Victor Marc, Derrick Hopkins, Stephen Bravo-Brown, Faron Hornes and Isaac Virgin. "The guys we were able to catch passes from are going to be first-rounders or early second-rounders. It's good experience to see guys of that caliber and to be able to work on what Coach Gruden's trying to do."
Gruden (above at USF, with Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, in photo from ESPN), speaking on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, said he was impressed both by USF's new practice facility and the young receivers who ran routes for his quarterbacks.
"It opened my eyes. We have great facilities here at USF -- brand-new practice setting," said Gruden, who spoke last month at Skip Holtz's annual coaches clinic and regularly attends USF basketball games with his sons. "It's exciting for the USF Bulls, and we've got some good receivers. I think they benefited. I think it motivated those guys. They got excited to see Cam Newton one day, Blaine Gabbert the next, Andy Dalton down the road, etc., to Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker. It did give us some consistency as we worked the quarterbacks out with really good receivers who were able to run the patterns at full speed to give us a relative look that we need to see to make the evaluation."
Drew Gallagher, who produced the show for ESPN, said the convenience of working out the quarterbacks so close to Gruden's home was a major plus, but said USF gave them more than expected, with staff and players eager to help and both grass and turf fields available -- SEC quarterbacks Newton and Mallett chose the grass, for instance, while Locker opted for the turf.
Half-hour shows with each quarterback have been running on ESPNU and have been well-received by draft fans, and Gallagher said he hopes to be able to work at USF next year as well.
"Every time we came out there, they had receivers ready, staff to help, a bag of NFL balls," Gallagher said. "Even on short notice, from the get-go, they welcomed us with open arms."