Practice notes: WR Griffin showing promise
Lots of injury notes from Thursday's practice and coach Jim Leavitt's first comments in two days. We'll start with freshman receiver Sterling Griffin, who had been slowed by a hamstring the first week of practice but impressed Leavitt in Thursday's two practices.
"He looked very impressive today," Leavitt said. "Sterling's going to move. It's wild, because there's a number of freshmen that are pushing older guys, and if we're even talking about it right now, you've got to look at those young guys quite a bit. There's a lot of talent in this freshman class."
Among the freshmen drawing the most praise are cornerback Kayvon Webster ("outstanding"), linebacker Sam Barrington ("doing pretty good"), defensive ends Julius Forte ("has really done well") and Ryne Giddins ("very impressive") and running back Lindsey Lamar ("probably more than I could have asked for, so focused and works really hard").
Leavitt said freshman defensive end Luke Sager won't play this season and will require surgery after tearing a tendon in his finger. He said two other freshmen recovering from surgery -- cornerback Ricardo Dixon (shoulder) and safety JaQuez Jenkins (knee) also are headed for redshirts this fall.
-- One position in particular disarray looks to be tight end, where USF has six players but no clear starter, Leavitt said. Walk-on Kenneth Luberice was working as a starter -- ahead of senior Ben Busbee -- but Luberice has been slowed by a groin injury.
"Nobody's taken it over," Leavitt said. "We don't really have a starting tight end right now. We've got six tight ends but no starter yet. They're all good guys, all want to play, but nobody's made it clear they're the guy."
Leavitt said true freshman Isaac Virgin "has kind of slowed down" since a strong start. Redshirt freshman tight end Jeff Hawkins said he's been slowed by a hamstring injury but hopes to be back in time for Saturday's scrimmage.
-- Leavitt said it meant a lot for injured kicker Maikon Bonani to stop by practice Wednesday. Bonani will be in a back brace for three months and is expected to redshirt this season as he recovers from a cracked vertebra suffered in a 35-foot fall while working at Busch Gardens.
"I couldn't hug him because I didnt' want to hurt his brace," Leavitt said. "He's as good as it comes. The guy is just unbelievable. I just admire him. I think he's a special guy."
-- Leavitt said he hopes junior defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul can join the team late next week after finishing online classes for his AA degree. "Will he be in shape? No, we know that. Will he be ready to go in the first game? That's pretty hard to do that, but hopefully he'll get ready sometime during the year, hopefully as fast as he can. He's got a lot of talent, but you have to get here, and it's a different world here. It takes an adjustment."
-- How intricate are USF's special-teams preparations? "We got most of all the aspects of kicking in, except for punting after a safety and backed up on the 1-yard line," Leavitt said.
-- Positions Leavitt is hoping to find answers from in Saturday's scrimmage. Offensive line is obvious, but he also mentioned linebacker, where senior Kion Wilson is a given but the other jobs remain largely unclaimed. "We've got talent there, but we don't have guys stepping up yet," Leavitt said.
-- Painful injury of the day? Linebacker Jacquian Williams has drawn early praise, but Leavitt said he's limited by foot blisters. "His feet are bleeding from blisters. Probably shouldn't have practiced him today," he said. "But it's hard to hold him out. We're going to have to, because we're going to lose him for more days. He just has a lot of blisters."
-- Watch List Watch List! USF's George Selvie is on the 55-man list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive player.
-- NFL roster update: One less USF alum fighting for an NFL job, as the Jets cut receiver Huey Whittaker loose on Thursday. Still 10 Bulls in NFL camps ...