Leavitt expects Amarri back today
Junior receiver Amarri Jackson, the star of last year's stunning upset of then-No. 9 Louisville, is expected to rejoin the team for Thursday's afternoon walkthrough, coach Jim Leavitt said Wednesday night.
Jackson was dismissed from practice a few minutes early Tuesday when he continued to jaw with coaches during the post-practice conditioning runs. Leavitt had been disappointed with several players' attitude during practice, but had singled out Jackson in sending him to the locker room early. Jackson missed both of Wednesday's practices as well, prompting concern that the problems had heightened, but Leavitt said his absence had to do with "family difficulties" back home in Sarasota and that Jackson would be back with the team after this morning's practice.
That said, another receiver has clearly stepped to the forefront in the first 10 days of practice: freshman Carlton Mitchell from Gaither. Asked to name the fastest player on the field Wednesday, Leavitt first answered with cornerback Mike Jenkins, joking that cornerback Ryan Gilliam and receivers Taurus Johnson and Ean Randolph might argue with that. Then he stopped and said he'd bet Mitchell is faster than all of them, even with a 6-foot-4 frame that makes him one of USF's biggest targets. Asked if he could move into USF's top eight -- a good measuring stick for justifying him playing this year and not redshirting -- Leavitt said he's already in that group. Receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey and quarterback Pat Julmiste, in separate interviews, both mentioned Mitchell's emergence as a playmaker with surprising speed.
One of the comments from a few days ago asked what the first-team offensive line is right now, and the honest answer is about eight guys. Line coach Greg Frey has joked that he's trying to throw the media off, trotting out a different starting five during the opening minutes of practice when reporters can watch. The constant has been center Nick Capogna -- almost every time I've seen a group that looks like a starting line, he's in the middle of it. At guard, sophomores Matt Huners and Jake Griffin are both regulars, but Leavitt also said this week that Walter Walker has had the best camp he's had since coming to USF. Tackle is also up for grabs -- redshirt freshman Danny Tolley has been held out of some drills with a pelvic injury, and that's left sophomore Marc Dile -- who Leavitt has said will be a starter -- starting on the left side, with junior Jared Carnes on the right side.
It's just a single snapshot of things, hardly a depth chart, but here's how the lineman were lined up at the start of practice Wednesday. Again, don't take this as where everybody is, just where they were when I took down numbers:
Front line (L-R): Dile, Griffin, Capogna, Huners, Carnes
Second (L-R): Thed Watson, Larry Lindsey, Ryan Schmidt, Walker, Jacob Sims
Third (L-R): Jeffrey Ide, Morgan Mathis, Jason Fox, Zach Hermann, Joe Herzhauser
With Tolley, those are the 16 offensive linemen. Warren Garrison, who'd joined the roster late last week, was gone just as quickly, with coaches unsure if he had remaining eligibility.
Questions? Send 'em my way. The season opener is just 16 days away ...