Neck injury ends guard Hermann's career early
Lots of news from Wednesday's practice, starting with Skip Holtz announcing that senior guard Zach Hermann, USF's most experienced offensive lineman with 26 career starts, has decided to end his playing career due to a lingering neck injury.
"He's come to the conclusion with everything he's been through and the severity of the injury that he's not going to continue playing," Holtz said. "It's a hard time for him, in a game he's played his whole life and been really good at it. ... Making that decision and the reality of it and being out here with the guys, I know he's going through a lot right now and I feel for him."
Hermann, who missed the final five games of last season with a bulging disc in his neck, had returned to practice Monday, but the lingering effects of the injury forced him to make a difficult decision after consulting with his family and USF's trainers.
The East Lake graduate is the fourth USF offensive lineman to have his playing career ended early by injury in the past two seasons, joining Danny Tolley, Mike McGowan and walk-on Joe Herzhauser.
Holtz also addressed the dismissal of senior defensive tackle Leslie Stirrups for an unspecified violation of team rules. His comments were similar to what was said after senior running back Mike Ford was dismissed in February.
"He will not be with the team in the fall," Holtz said. "I absolutely hate having to turn and go through these situations. He's a great young man, and I hate it for him. These aren't decisions I have to make, they're decisions I have to enforce. Every decision somebody makes outside here, going to class, what they do academically, what they do socially, we're all held accountable for our actions. He made a mistake. I wish him nothing but the best and I'll do anything we can to give him the opportunity to go someplace and play his senior year, but it won't be here. That's unfortunate, because he was really coming along and doing some really great things for us."
To clarify, this has been interpreted by some as a new coach imposing greater discipline, but Holtz said Ford and Stirrups were dismissed for violating rules that were already in place before he became head coach.
More notes to come later tonight ...