USF notes: Webster working as starting nickel
Lots of small notes from Friday's morning practice, and we'll start with more news on freshman defensive back Kayvon Webster, who is now working as the starting nickel defensive back, coach Jim Leavitt said.
Earlier in the week, we'd reported that redshirt freshman Jon Lejiste and sophomore Tyson Butler were battling for the nickel spot, but Lejiste has been slowed by a groin injury, and Webster has apparently moved ahead of Butler, who opened fall practice as a starting cornerback.
-- Leavitt was clearly unhappy with the effort -- he'd said last night he wanted to see how the players would handle a quick turnaround from a night practice to an early-morning practice. After the players were gone, Leavitt took a walk to the far corner of the practice field, as if consciously cooling himself down before addressing the media.
"Half of them really did a great job," Leavitt said. "I was really proud of half of the football team. Half the guys were ready to go today, half the guys, we got beat bad today, which is a concern. I was disappointed today. You've got to be able to push through it when you're tired."
-- Leavitt reiterated that his three primary running backs to open the season will be Mo Plancher, Aston Samuels and Lindsey Lamar. Jamar Taylor is out 8-10 weeks with a knee injury and Mike Ford has been suspended from the first two games.
Samuels, originally a running back, had worked at receiver after a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the 2008 season, and he only returned to running back in the final days of spring practice.
"Samuels has had by far (his) most impressive fall camp I've ever seen," Leavitt said. "Not even close. He's been extraordinary, doing a great job."
-- Injuries are piling up at tight end, where would-be starter Andreas Shields has a boot on his injured right ankle, senior walk-on Kenneth Luberice is just now returning from a hip injury and junior Andrew Ketchel has been limited by a shoulder injury. Freshman Isaac Virgin is "out a few weeks" with a knee injury, and redshirt freshman Jeff Hawkins continues to be held out with a hamstring.
"Hawkins hasn't practiced at all in about a year," Leavitt said. "He's been hurt all spring, all two-a-days. You really can't count on Hawkins this year right now. (Ben) Busbee has been working through it pretty good. He's been really trying."
Leavitt said fullback Richard Kelly will be used in a number of positions: "He can run the ball. He's a big power back now with Ford out. He can block, if we go 20-personnel, 21-personnel, 22-personnel. He can really block. He can play tight end, H-back, U-back, all of it. A lot of combinations." Can't say I know what a U-back is ...