DT Harris now working as starter at end
Senior Aaron Harris has started 23 games in the past two seasons at defensive tackle, but after a strong showing in Saturday's spring game, he was lined up Wednesday as a starting defensive end.
Defensive line should be a strength of the Bulls this fall, and moving Harris outside could be an indication that USF has high hopes for junior college Leslie Stirrups, who should compete for time at defensive tackle. With Harris at end, the Bulls had sophomore Cory Grissom working as a starting tackle, next to junior Terrell McClain. Harris had three sacks in Saturday's game, all while lining up at end.
USF coach Jim Leavitt said Harris is 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds -- he was listed at 6-4 and 270 at the start of last season, and as long as the Bulls like his quickness coming off the edge, he's similar in size to junior end Craig Marshall (6-5, 260), who stepped back to the second team with Harris starting. Remember USF has plenty of talent coming at end this fall in junior college transfer Jason Pierre-Paul and freshmen Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte. Other interesting notes:
-- Leavitt said there are four linebackers that he's treating as starters after spring drills -- senior Kion Wilson and junior Sabbath Joseph, who would start in both the base and nickel defenses, and seniors Chris Robinson and Donte Spires. Spires has played well after being away from the team for a year, and he's ahead of redshirt freshmen Mike Lanaris and Armando Sanchez entering the fall.
-- USF gave starting cornerback Jerome Murphy a look at safety during the spring game Saturday and Leavitt liked what he saw. He'll give true freshman Kayvon Webster a long look at cornerback this fall, but Webster and Quenton Washington would have to be very strong for Leavitt to consider moving Murphy to safety -- most likely at strong, where sophomore Jerrell Young would be a first-year starter. It could wind up just being a wrinkle that allows USF to move Murphy around in different coverages.
-- Running back Jamar Taylor, who has not been practicing all spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery, made his spring debut Wednesday, working out with the running backs to get a taste of practice. Carl Franks joked that he just needed to see if Taylor was out of shape, but he was pleased with what he saw. USF will take it easy with Taylor until the fall to make sure his shoulder has time to fully recover. Receiver A.J. Love, who has been limited in practice recovering from knee surgery, got a little work in pads Wednesday as well.
-- The Bulls continue to search for depth at center, and had five linemen -- Jake Sims, Sampson Genus, Kevin McCaskill, Mike McGowan and Josh Garvin -- all taking snaps at the start of practice. Leavitt reiterates that offensive line will be wide-open in August, with Sims as perhaps the only lineman entrenched as a starter, and even then the Bulls aren't sure where. Zach Hermann is a safe bet to start, but he's missed much of the spring after suffering concussion. Leavitt said redshirt freshman Jatavious Jackson is still probably a year away from being ready, and said sophomore Danous Estenor didn't have a particularly good spring and needs a strong summer to get back in position to compete for a starting job.
-- Some of you asked for the actual attendance at Saturday's game, which USF had estimated at "nearly 6,000" fans at Raymond James Stadium. The turnstile count from the Tampa Sports Authority is 5,555, confirming it's easily the largest spring crowd in USF history. Last year's was announced as 4,607, so it's an increase of more than 20 percent, despite being on Easter weekend ...
Lots more to come, including Mike Canales talking about the trick plays submitted by one lucky Bulls fan and used during the spring game ...