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First practice: Early notes and observations ...



Lots to tell you from the opening half-hour of USF's first practice of the fall -- we'll be able to firm up answers more when we get coach Jim Leavitt around 6 p.m., but lots to share already ...

-- Got a text in the middle of practice from agent Jonathan Kline, telling me that former USF running back Andre Hall has signed a contract with the Houston Texans. Houston doesn't have a lot of backs in camp, so Hall has a chance in the next month to earn his way onto an NFL roster ...

-- Lots of newcomers missing, though this week that could be as simple as a class conflict in the final week of summer classes, or incoming players who have yet to be cleared by the NCAA. Defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups was in streetclothes, and five other newcomers expected to be with the team were not in attendance: cornerback Kayvon Webster, defensive ends Ryne Giddins and Jason Pierre-Paul, quarterback Isaac Virgin and linebacker Jacquian Williams. Some of the biggest names in USF's recruiting class are there, but again, this could be a procedural delay where players are out in a matter of days. (UPDATE: Check the new post, but most of the absences are just conflicts with classes -- Williams and Webster joined practice late, and Giddins and Virgin had classes. Stirrups is done with classes but hasn't been formally accepted; Pierre-Paul should be done with classes next week.)

-- We've mentioned the possibility of senior Jerome Murphy moving from cornerback into a nickel safety position, given that USF's base defense is likely to be a nickel package this fall. The first practice seems to point to that, as the first four defensive backs running through drills were Nate Allen and Murphy at safety, with sophomores Quenton Washington and Tyson Butler lined up as cornerbacks. You can presume that the fifth defensive back in the nickel would be Jerrell Young, who would take Murphy's spot as Murphy moves to the nickel.

-- I counted two returning players missing from practice, though again it could just be conflicts with exams: offensive lineman Jatavious Jackson and safety Charlton Sinclair. I'm told Jackson might have joined practice late, so I'll get confirmation on that after practice ...

-- First-team offensive line in the opening drill? Exactly what we've been hearing: from left to right, Jamar Bass, Sampson Genus, Jake Sims, Zach Hermann and Mark Popek. Ed Alcin was lined up as part of the first offense, but that could just be a function of A.J. Love and Jessie Hester returning from injuries. Love sprinted onto the field before practice, wearing a brace on his left knee; Hester wasn't running full speed but jogged without a limp, with his left foot taped.

-- With the exception of Murphy at safety, the first-team defense looked as expected -- George Selvie and Aaron Harris at ends, Terrell McClain and Cory Grissom at tackle, Kion Wilson, Chris Robinson and Sabbath Joseph at linebacker.

-- Walk-on linebacker LaDre Watkins, who was lost for the season with a knee injury in last year's opener, was running full speed and looked to be working as a second-team linebacker alongside Donte Spires.

-- One more former USF football player to add to the coaching staff: former Bulls nose tackle Ron Johnson, an Armwood graduate, has joined the team as the defensive program assistant, serving in much the same role Marquel Blackwell will on offense.

-- Little things worth noting: Kickers and snappers were out a half-hour early, and the first non-specialist onto the practice field was receiver Carlton Mitchell, with quarterback Evan Landi right behind him. Linebacker Kion Wilson was the first defensive player out. ... It looked like freshman Luke Sager, who has been listed as a defensive end, was lined up with the defensive tackles. ... As we've reported, freshman Victor Marc, thought to be a quarterback or receiver, is initially working as a safety.

-- Oh, and random congratulations to former USF standout Kevin Verpaele, who has the honor of posting the 35,000th comment on this blog. The blog turned four years old on Tuesday, by the way, so thanks again to everyone who stops by and makes it worthwhile ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:54pm]


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