Day 4 report: Abraham keeps drawing raves
Four days and one partially padded workout into USF's preseason, only a handful of conclusions have been drawn. Among them: The morning sun is searing, and East Lake High alumnus Devin Abraham is making a splash in the secondary.
Though the Bulls don't slip into full pads until Friday at 3 p.m., Abraham, a January enrollee who missed spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery, has logged steady first-team work at safety to this point.
The raves are nearly as plenteous as the reps.
"Devin's doing a hell of a job," sophomore S Nate Godwin said.
"I tell you, that kid is a smart football player," Coach Willie Taggart added. "He didn't practice in the spring, but he's coming out here and he's on top of everything. It's hard to sneak one past the kid. He's so smart as a football player and always puts himself in the best position to make plays."
A Class 7A first-team all-state pick last season, Abraham, son of former Buccaneers CB Donnie Abraham, is carrying 187 pounds on a sturdy 5-foot-9 frame. A cornerback (with 19 career picks) at East Lake, he knocked 6-5, 239-pound Kano Dillon off his feet Thursday after the freshman tight end caught a short pass in situational scrimmaging.
"Even tackling drills today, I forgot he even had a shoulder (injury)," secondary coach Ron Cooper said.
TAKE A LAP: In an effort to relinquish the title of American Athletic Conference's most-penalized team, the Bulls are taking a proactive approach to pre-snap infractions. Every player guilty of an offside or false start must do a lap around the Morsani Practice Complex.
"They get a lap and they get punishment afterwards too," said Taggart, whose team committed 102 penalties -- tied for sixth-most nationally -- in 2013. "We're trying to make a sense of urgency, and guys have got to stay focused throughout, even when they're tired."
BULL(ARD) SESSION: WWE star Titus O'Neil, University of Florida DE Thad Bullard in a previous life, attended Thursday's three-plus-hour practice and delivered a lengthy address to the Bulls afterward. Taggart, who met O'Neil about a year ago, said the wrestler asked last week if he could come out and speak to the team.
"It's amazing," Taggart said. "I have to blow a whistle to get attention, but a big guy like that, everybody's locked in."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls stage their first full-pad practice Friday at 3 p.m. It's open to the public. ... LT Darrell Williams (general soreness) and OLB Kieran Pettus (upper right leg) remained limited Thursday. ... Late in Thursday's practice, several offensive linemen were treated to a visit to the Polar Pod, a mobile cooling station (think frigid food truck). ... Before switching to cornerback at the start of camp, fifth-year senior Chris Dunkley, a converted receiver, said he hadn't played in the secondary since his senior year at Pahokee High (and that was at safety). ... Unofficially, QB Mike White was 7-for-11 in a two-minute drill that began at the offense's 25-yard line. The unit didn't score, but White had a nice downfield throw to Rodney Adams in heavy coverage. "(The QB job) is still an open competition," Taggart said. ... Freshman QB Quinton Flowers, making his practice debut with the full squad, scrambled for an apparent first down late in 11-on-11 work.
AUDIBLE: "I think the guys got a sluggish with the heat out there today. We had spurts at times where we went like I wanted us to go, but I think our guys got a little sluggish with the heat. ... We tried to keep Freddie Soft from out of these fences and somehow he snuck in here today
and kept our guys from playing like we're capable." -- Taggart