First practice: All the players are here
Just back from the opening half-hour of USF's first practice of the season, and the first news is that all the healthy players are in attendance. Defensive end David Bedford and cornerback Theo Wilson, who have had busy summers finishing their academic requirements, were lined up in shoulder pads and shorts with the rest of the Bulls, having been cleared to practice.
Freshman linebacker Quavon Taylor, who returned to the team Sunday after a brief absence to deal with personal matters in Miami, was out at practice as well, wearing his No. 44 jersey. The only thing missing is first-year defensive line coach John Hendrick, who suffered a heart attack early last month and has not been cleared to be out on the field for practice. First-year defensive ends coach Kevin Patrick ran the entire d-line in practice. Lots of observations ...
-- Sure looks like the coaches are trying to send Chris Robinson a message. Once touted as a projected starter at strongside linebacker, Robinson was running with the third team at the start of practice Monday. Sophomore Sabbath Joseph was running with the first team, with sophomore Alonzo McQueen working at strongside on the second unit.
-- Four guys were lined up deep fielding punts as USF ran through punt-team drills at the start of practice: senior Marcus Edwards, the primary return man last season, as well as redshirt freshman Patrick Richardson and two newcomers: cornerbacks George Baker and Theo Wilson. Wilson looks thicker than I'd expected, and both could make their first impacts on special teams.
-- The team doesn't have a proven backup center to senior Jake Griffin right now, so if something were to happen to Griffin, the Bulls would slide over a current starter to center and put a sub in his old position. Toward that end, three other starting linemen -- Jake Sims, Marc Dile and Ryan Schmidt -- were all taking snaps with quarterbacks at the start of drills, just for practice.
-- When the players are split into position drills, they tend to run through them in descending depth chart order, so you can read something into the parade of players into a drill. For instance, here were the pairs of defensive backs running through backpedaling drills. Read into this what you will: Safeties Nate Allen and Carlton Williams, then cornerbacks Jerome Murphy and Tyller Roberts; then safeties Danny Verpaele and Louis Gachette, then cornerbacks Quenton Washington and Tyson Butler. Those are your top eight.
-- Bedford's presence is encouraging, and he should push Jarriett Buie for a starting role opposite George Selvie, but for now, he's a new guy who has to work his way up the depth chart. As such, he was working with the third foursome of defensive linemen going through drills, as was another promising sophomore transfer, Craig Marshall. Here were the lines, in order: Ends Selvie and Buie and tackles Aaron Harris and Sampson Genus; then ends Quincy Okolie and Patrick Hampton and tackles Terrell McClain and Keith McCaskill; then ends Bedford and Marshall and tackles David Fonua and Darren Powe.
-- Updates on players recovering from injury: I did not see running back Aston Samuels at all, one day after USF reported he wouldn't be taking part in preseason drills and is "questionable" for the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Tackle Danny Tolley, recovering from a torn ACL in April, watched the offensive line from the sidelines. Receiver Colby Erskin, wearing a brace on his reconstructed right knee, went through individual workouts with a trainer. He looked patient, which is a good thing to see.
-- Just a full disclosure thing: If you have USF's 2008 football media guide, you'll see I'm credited as one of 11 copy editors. I want to make it clear I wasn't compensated in any way for proofing pages for the guide. Just wanted to help -- if I can catch a few things in July, it's less likely that I or anyone else will pass along something incorrect from the guide to the blog or the paper during the season. I don't have a problem with that from an ethics standpoint, nor do my editors. I welcome your e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org ...
-- USF has changed its policy for newcomers, making them off limits for interviews until they've played in a game. So we won't be talking to Bedford or quarterback B.J. Daniels for a few weeks. On the whole, it's not often we need to talk to people during a redshirt season, so it's a minor setback in the access department.
-- One new walk-on I don't know about, a skinny defensive back with dreadlocks who's wearing No. 16. All I've gotten so far is a first name (Raymond). Should have more in a bit ...Reminders: I'm chatting at thebullspen.com at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and invite you to sign up for the blog's counterpart at Twitter.com -- up to 40 people following now ...