One week out, more football notes
Spring football's now a week away, so I'm taking another break from coaching-search madness to offer up some football tidbits -- some interesting things that should be popping up during the next month of practice ...
-- Not entirely surprising, but twin sophomore cornerbacks Antonio and Antwane Cox will be transferring to Bethune-Cookman this summer. The Cox twins played only sparingly last fall -- I don't know that Antwane played at all, Antonio only on special teams -- and still had a ton of returning players ahead of them, so this is a chance for them to see some playing time on a smaller level. More than losing two players, the news here is two scholarships coming open for next year's recruiting class ...
-- We'd told you last week about walk-on Colby Erskin posting the fastest 40 time this spring with a 4.26 (and yes, across the board, it's definitely a faster stopwatch than the pros are using in Indy, don't question that for a second). A few more impressive numbers from Jim Leavitt's spreadsheet of spring measurables: Who has the team's highest vertical leap? It's freshman running back Aston Samuels, who joins Mike Ford as the new challengers to Ben Williams and Ricky Ponton in the backfield. Perhaps the most impressive number yet is the number of times defensive lineman Richard Clebert was able to bench-press 225 pounds: it's 37, says Leavitt, and only one d-lineman at this year's NFL combine posted a number that strong -- N.C. State's Tank Tyler with 42.
-- Freshman Jeremiah Warren, a late qualifier who enrolled in January, checked in at 6-foot-2, 334 pounds, which is 45 pounds more than he was listed at when he signed with the Bulls in February 2006. Warren, once thought to be a challenger to Nick Capogna at center, will work at guard or tackle.
-- Some intriguing possibilities for position changes the Bulls may experiment with this spring. Transfer Tyrone McKenzie could be used much like Stephen Nicholas was, working primarily at strongside linebacker but switching as the weakside linebacker in USF's nickel package. Depending on McKenzie's progress in picking up the defense, you could see Chris Robinson as a strongside linebacker who switches to defensive end in the nickel, but Robinson too has much to learn at the new position this spring. The Bulls see George Selvie, Jarriett Buie and Robinson as their top three ends, but need at least one more player -- perhaps Josh Smiley or Brandon Peguese -- to step into the rotation at end.
-- Two potential moves in the defensive secondary, where the only loss is strong safety Jeremy Burnett. The current plan is to try junior Danny Verpaele at strong safety (where he played as a freshman), a move that would give sophomore Nate Allen a shot at free safety. The Bulls also have experienced veterans in Carlton Williams and Louis Gachette, but Williams (6-4, 205) may get a look at strongside linebacker. Tyller Roberts, who has worked both at safety and corner in his two seasons with the Bulls, will work exclusively at cornerback this spring. Brouce Mompremier gets the first shot at Patrick St. Louis' weakside linebacker job, with senior Sam Miller and redshirt freshman Alonzo McQueen next in line. (and remember, Pearl River's Donte Spires should join the fray this fall).
-- Jackie Chambers, dismissed from the Bulls in November, has landed at I-AA Morgan State, where he'll be a senior this fall. He rejoins former Miami Edison and USF teammate Chad Simpson, who fared well at running back last fall after transferring from the Bulls. And congratulations to Edison coach Corey Bell, who has taken a position at Miami as assistant director of football operations. And former USF center Alex Herron, a three-year starter from 2002-04, has joined West Virginia's coaching staff as an offensive graduate assistant, working under former USF coach Greg Frey.
-- Oh, and redshirt freshman walk-on Quincy Okolie, who came to USF as a tight end but was moved to defensive end, is back at tight end. Okolie missed all of last season with a broken leg, but is expected to be back healthy and competing at a position where the Bulls have only three scholarship players.