Leavitt on TE Virgin: 'He's moving fast'
USF coach Jim Leavitt had been adamant that freshman Isaac Virgin would stick at quarterback, even if he was behind three other passers and unlikely to get significant reps in practice, let alone a chance to play in games.
But after just one practice at quarterback, Leavitt said the Fort Pierce Westwood standout came to him Saturday and asked to be moved to tight end, which gave him a greater chance to play this season.
Virgin has a cannon of an arm -- he claims he can throw a football 55 yards while on his knees -- but he also has an athleticism and size that could work well at tight end. How big is Virgin? The roster lists him at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds; he told us in June he was 6-5, 245, and Leavitt on Sunday night said he is 6-4, 255. And after one practice with Virgin at tight end, Leavitt isn't regretting the decision.
"He's moving fast," Leavitt said Sunday. "He can run, he's strong, he can catch. He's a tremendous athlete. We're going to look at him a lot."
USF doesn't have a lot of established tight ends -- senior Ben Busbee has 11 career catches in three seasons, and junior Andrew Ketchel has limited playing time behind him. After that, it's walk-on Kenneth Luberice and redshirt freshmen Jeff Hawkins and Andreas Shields, who seem more likely to contribute on special teams this season than in the tight-end rotation.
In the first week of practice, Leavitt has shifted two athletes away from quarterback -- backup Evan Landi took nearly all his reps at receiver Sunday, Leavitt said, and he's battling for one of four starting positions on the receiving depth chart. With Landi primarily at receiver and Virgin at tight end, USF will split its reps between starter Matt Grothe and backup B.J. Daniels, who's being groomed to take over in 2010.
Leavitt continues to talk about newcomers making an impact this fall -- cornerback Kayvon Webster, running back Lindsey Lamar and linebackers Jacquian Williams and Sam Barrington have gotten most of the attention this first week, but defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups and defensive ends Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte are already working with the second-team defense as well, and Jamar Bass is battling for the starting left tackle position ...